The Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team is the intercollegiate football team representing the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Indiana. The team is currently coached by Brian Kelly and plays its home games at the campus’s Notre Dame Stadium, which has a capacity of 77,622. Notre Dame is one of six schools that competes as an Independent at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Football Bowl Subdivision level; however, they play five games a year against opponents from the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), which Notre Dame is a member of in all other sports except ice hockey.
The school claims 11 national championships, but the NCAA recognizes the school with 13. Moreover, Notre Dame has 21 national championships recognized by all major selectors; this is tied with Alabama for the most in the FBS. Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Ohio State share the record of seven Heisman Trophy winners. Notre Dame has produced 101 consensus All-Americans, 34 unanimous All-Americans, 52 members of the College Football Hall of Fame, and 13 members of the NFL Hall of Fame, all NCAA records. Notre Dame has had 495 players selected in the NFL Draft, second only to USC.
All Notre Dame home games have been televised by NBC since 1991, and Notre Dame is the only school to have such a contract.It was the only independent program to be part of the Bowl Championship Series coalition and its guaranteed payout, and it has one of the largest, most widespread fan bases in college football. These factors help make Notre Dame one of the most financially valuable football programs in the country, which allows the school to remain an independent.
Football did not have an auspicious beginning at the University of Notre Dame. In their inaugural game on November 23, 1887, the Irish lost to Michigan by a score of 8–0. Their first win came in the final game of the 1888 season when the Irish defeated Harvard Prep School of Chicago by a score of 20–0. At the end of the 1888 season they had a record of 1–3 with all three losses being at the hands of Michigan by a combined score of 43–9. Between 1887 and 1899 Notre Dame compiled a record of 31 wins, 15 losses, and four ties against a diverse variety of opponents ranging from local high school teams to other universities.
In 1894, James L. Morison was hired as Notre Dame’s first head football coach. Notre Dame took a significant step toward respectability, prominence, and stability when they hired Morison. He wrote an acquaintance after his first day on the job: “I arrived here [Notre Dame] this morning and found about as green a set of football players that ever donned a uniform… They want to smoke, and when I told them that they would have to run and get up some wind, they thought I was rubbing it in on them. “One big, strong cuss remarked that it was too much like work. Well, maybe you think I didn’t give him hell! I bet you a hundred no one ever makes a remark like that again.” Morrison had been hired for $40 plus expenses for two weeks.
In 1908, the win over Franklin saw end Fay Wood catch the first touchdown pass in Notre Dame history. Notre Dame continued its success near the turn of the century and achieved their first victory over Michigan in 1909 by the score of 11–3 after which Michigan refused to play Notre Dame again for 33 years. By the end of the 1912 season they had amassed a record of 108 wins, 31 losses, and 13 ties.