September 19, 1942 - The T Formation is unveiled at home

The contest was the annual game between the Notre Dame varsity and the 'green-clad' Notre Dame freshmen squad. This game was held one week before the season opener on the road vs Wisconsin (coached by former ND QB Harry Stuhldreyer of Four Horsemen fame).

From the ND Scholastic Magazine:

"...1942 will go down in the annals of Notre Dame as the year in which Coach Frank Leahy introduced the T-Formation, a radical departure from the familiar Rockne shift. And from the famed Chicago Bears, chief exponents of the T, comes Bob Snyder to assist Coach Leahy in impressing the intricacies of this formation on the squad of Freshman hopefuls."

The starting 'T' Formation QB for the varsity that afternoon was Angelo Bertelli - the starting LHB the previous season for the Irish eleven. The starting 'T' formation QB for the Frosh team was Johnny Lujack - a single wing LHB in HS from Connellsville, Pa.

The game itself did not receive rave reviews (again from the ND Scholastic):

"...Frank Leahy...watched..shoddy display by the crippled varsity against the not-too-potent Frosh squad....Although the varsity triumphed by a substantial margin Coach Leahy still had need to worry. The Freshmen had been drilling only a little more than a week."

The Scholastic pointed out that the varsity had played against the Frosh without injured starting HBs Creighton Miller and Fred 'Dippy' Evans - who 'were lined up at the field's edge (during the game) craving action.' The Scholastic also bemoaned that 'it seems that the same eleven which played such ragged ball against the Frosh in the stadium...will have to face the Badgers at Camp Randall..." Neither starting Irish HB was able to play against a Wisconsin team that featured a newcomer named Elroy 'Crazylegs' Hirsch. The Irish escaped Camp Randall with a disappointing 7-7 tie.

The next week in the home opener, Notre Dame was upset by Georgia Tech (13-6).

Leahy had scrapped the famed Rockne shift for the newfangled 'T' formation and was now 0-1-1 for the 1942 season! The Coach received a great deal of criticism for his bold move (especially after the poor start to the season). But Leahy stuck with the new offense. The Irish finished the season ranked #6 with a final record of 7-2-2. The next season, 1943, ND would win the National Championship. T Formation QB Angelo Bertelli would win the Heisman Trophy. When Bertelli left for the Marine Corps at mid season, his backup - sophomore Johnny Lujack led the Irish the rest of the season.

Lujack would play on 3 ND varsity teams (interrupted by war service)-'43,'46 and '47. All 3 teams would win the National Championship. Lujack would win his own Heisman Trophy in 1947.

The starting lineups for that first ever 'T' formation game at ND stadium were as follows:

  • ND Varsity
    • QB Bertelli Springfield, Ma
    • FB Jim Mello W. Warwick RI
    • HB Bill Earley Parkersburg, WV
    • HB Bob Livingstone Hammond, Ind
    • E Bob Dove Youngstown, OH
    • E George Murphy (Capt) South Bend
    • T Lou Rymkus Chicago
    • T Bob Neff Buckhannon, WV
    • G Bob McBride Lancaster, OH
    • G Harry Wright Hempstead, NY
    • C Tom Brock Columbus, Neb
  • ND Frosh
    • QB John Lujack Connellville, PA
    • FB Ray Iannuccillo Providence, RI
    • HB Emil Sitko Ft Wayne, IN
    • HB George Birmingham Sioux City, IA
    • E Jerry Ford St. Louis, MO
    • E Jim Flanigan W. Roxbury, MA
    • T Jim 'Tiny' Tharp New Orleans, LA
    • T John 'Peewee' Pehar Los Angeles, CA
    • G Joe Signaigo Memphis, TN
    • G Jim Vugrin Lansford, PA
    • C Art Statuto Saugus, MA


Most of the players from the respective ND varsity and frosh teams of 1942 
went into service at some point during WWII 

Four members of the 1942 varsity were killed in action in WWII: 

George Murphy (Capt) 
Tom Creevey reserve QB 
John McGinnis reserve end 
Frank Cusick 2nd team end 

One other member of the varsity was a POW during the war: 
Bob McBride 

One member of the '42 frosh was killed in action in WWII: 

George Birmingham 

Another member of the '42 frosh was a POW: 

Virgil 'Dugie' Turner HB 

A 3rd frosh Ray Iannuccillo FB was one of a number a teammates wounded in 
the war. Ray returned to ND but never played again.

Keywords: football, wisconsin, harry stuhldreyer, four horsemen, frank leahy, knute rockne, t formation, chicago bears, angelo bertelli, johnny lujack, creighton miller, fred evans, georgia tech, heisman, jim mello, bill earley, bob linvingstone, bob dove, george murphy, lou rymkus, bob neff, bob mcbride, harry wright, tom brock, ray iannuccillo, emil sitko, george birmingham, jerry ford, jim flanigan, jim tharp, john pehar, joe signaigo, jim vugrin, art statuto, world war ii, tom creevey, john mcginnis, frank cusick, virgil turner

Posted On: 2014-01-28 00:15:03 by IrishTrpt07


      Were you there? Have more to add? Leave a comment and let us know!

   Posted By: olson at 2014-02-18 09:42:07[#1]
A correction on the above article

Art Statuto was not the ND frosh team center
Art did not arrive at ND until Feb. '43(Spring semester)
The 1st team frosh center was:
Frank Sullivan from Belle Harbor, NY
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