At 89, Parseghian Still Boosting His School

At 89, Parseghian Still Boosting His School

Ara Parseghian still sounds like he could lead a pep rally. He’s 89 years old, with a clear, booming voice that on certain Saturdays shakes the room like a foghorn.

His anecdotes drip with tradition and nostalgia, and he doesn’t mind when strangers stop him near his winter home in Florida and start yakking about Notre Dame as if it were a subject as universal as the weather. He’ll politely listen to their ruminations about Rudy, about how he twice beat Bear Bryant’s Alabama teams, about Brian Kelly’s wizardry … about anything remotely related to South Bend, really, from myths to miracle workers and modern-day renaissances.

“Not a day goes by,” says the man who coached the Irish for one glorious decade, “that it doesn’t all come rushing back.”

Before this season restored the glamour to Notre Dame football, before the Irish began to cycle through coaches and flirt with irrelevance, there was the grand Era of Ara, a period in which the Irish twice won national championships. Nudge the ghosts and you might hear the students at Parseghian’s last home game as coach, serenading him with chats of “Ara, Stop the Snow!”

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