Notre Dame Football: A History of Senior QBs
For the first time since 2006, Notre Dame will have a senior quarterback under center when it opens the 2013 season against Temple on August 31. Tommy Rees has assumed the starting role after Everett Golson's dismissal in May, and Rees will make his 19th career start against the Owls.
Notre Dame has had seven senior starting quarterbacks since Lou Holtz's arrival in 1986, with a mixed bag in terms of results. Three times, Notre Dame registered double-digit wins, but on two occasions, the Irish finished with a losing record.
While the former certainly seems more likely than the latter for the 2013 Fighting Irish, history shows that a veteran quarterback doesn't always translate into on-field success.
Let's take a look back at those seven Notre Dame seasons since the start of the Holtz era with a senior quarterback.
Brady Quinn, 2006
Expectations were sky-high for the 2006 Irish, as they began the season ranked No. 2 in the nation. Title hopes were quickly squelched with a humbling 47-21 home loss to Michigan in Week 3.
Quinn led Notre Dame to eight straight wins after the loss to the Wolverines, including a last-minute comeback to defeat UCLA. The season ended on a down note, however, as the Irish were embarrassed by both USC in Los Angeles and LSU in the Sugar Bowl.
The 46-game starter rewrote the Notre Dame record book, setting nearly every major Fighting Irish passing record.
Record: 10-3 (lost to LSU in Sugar Bowl)
Quinn's Statistics: 289-of-467, 3,426 yards, 37 TDs
Jarious Jackson, 1999
For an eight-year period spanning the late '90s and early 2000s, the Irish outperformed preseason expectations in even-numbered years, while succumbing to summer hype in odd-numbered years.
1999 was one of those seasons where the Irish never recovered from early-season losses, including a four-point loss to Michigan that was aided by a questionable unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after the Irish had taken the lead. A week later, Notre Dame was inside the Purdue 10-yard line late, but poor clock management prevented a chance at a game-winning touchdown.
Jackson would rally the Irish to four straight wins after a 1-3 start, but a blowout loss at Tennessee led to a November swoon that culminated in a 5-7 finish.
Jackson's Statistics: 184-of-316, 2,753 yards, 17 TDs, 464 rushing yards, 7 rushing TDs
Ron Powlus, 1997
Notre Dame opened an expanded Notre Dame Stadium in 1997 with a narrow victory over Georgia Tech in Bob Davie's first game as head coach. A month later, the Irish still had just one win and were staring down the barrel of their first losing season since 1986.
Powlus never lived up to the hype with which he arrived as a high school All-American, proving to be a poor fit for Holtz and Davie's option-heavy offense.
Notre Dame did salvage its season in November, which included a major upset of No. 15 LSU in Baton Rouge. The Irish were forced into a rematch with the annoyed Tigers in the Independence Bowl, where their season and Powlus' disappointing Irish career ended with a 27-9 loss.
Record: 7-6 (lost to LSU in Independence Bowl)
Powlus' Statistics: 182-of-298, 2,078 yards, 9 TDs
Kevin McDougal, 1993
1993 was a special year for Notre Dame, despite it seeming like a lost cause after Powlus broke his collarbone and had to take a medical redshirt. In stepped McDougal, who had sat behind Rick Mirer waiting his turn.
He finally got his chance, and McDougal led the Irish to 10 straight wins, including the "Game of the Century," when the No. 2-ranked Irish upset No. 1 Florida State.
While national title hopes were dashed the following week with a loss to Boston College, 1993 is still remembered as one of the most magical seasons in Notre Dame history. Part of that magic was the stunning play of McDougal, who secured his place in the lengthy history of Fighting Irish football.
Record: 11-1 (defeated Texas A&M in Cotton Bowl)
McDougal's Statistics: 96-of-159, 1,541 yards, 7 TDs
Rick Mirer, 1992
The "Golden Boy" was entering his third year under center for the Irish in 1992, hoping to lead Notre Dame to its second national title in five years.
A surprising loss to Stanford took the Irish out of title contention, but the 1992 season featured one of the most memorable victories in Notre Dame history: the 17-16 "Snow Bowl" over Penn State in the series' final game before the Nittany Lions joined the Big Ten.
Mirer closed his highly successful career with wins over rival USC and previously undefeated Texas A&M.
Record: 10-1-1 (defeated Texas A&M in Cotton Bowl)
Mirer's Statistics: 120-of-234, 1,876 yards, 15 TDs
Tony Rice, 1989
It had been more than 40 years since Notre Dame had won consecutive national titles, but the 1989 Irish, led by Rice, seemed poised to end that drought. They began the season where they ended the 1988 season—ranked No. 1.
Rice had a pair of dynamic sophomore weapons in tailback Ricky Watters and wide receiver Raghib "Rocket" Ismail, and the Irish rolled to 11 straight wins to open the season. A loss to Miami, whom Notre Dame had defeated by a single point in 1988, helped ultimately vault the Hurricanes back to the spot they vacated after losing in South Bend the previous year.
To many, Rice is the greatest college quarterback ever to play for Notre Dame. After winning 24 of his final 25 games, there's not much of an argument against that.
Record: 12-1 (defeated Colorado in Orange Bowl)
Rice's Statistics: 68-of-137, 1,122 yards, 2 TDs, 884 rushing yards, 7 rushing TDs
Steve Beuerlein, 1986
One of the most difficult aspects of a coaching change is sometimes having to fit square pegs into round holes. That's exactly what Holtz faced when he inherited Beuerlein as his starting quarterback despite wanting to implement the veer offense.
Notre Dame struggled for much of the 1986 season, struggling to grasp the new concepts while at the same time facing a significant talent deficit as a result of the failed Gerry Faust tenure. Beuerlein rarely complained and made the most of a difficult situation.
A losing season at Notre Dame never sits well with the fanbase, but Beuerlein did close his career with a late-comeback road victory to defeat USC, 38-37, and provide a bit of a silver lining.
Beuerlein's Statistics: 151-of-259, 2,211 yards, 3 TDs