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Ara Raoul Parseghian (May 21, 1923 – August 2, 2017) was an American football player and coach who guided the University of Notre Dame to national championships in 1966 and 1973. He is noted for bringing Notre Dame's Fighting Irish football program from years of futility back into a national contender in 1964 and is widely regarded alongside Knute Rockne and Frank Leahy as a part of the "Holy Trinity" of Notre Dame head coaches.
Parseghian grew up in Akron, Ohio, and played football beginning in his junior year of high school. He enrolled at the University of Akron, but soon quit to join the U.S. Navy for two years during World War II. After the war, he finished his college career at Miami University in Ohio, and went on to play halfback for the Cleveland Browns of the All-America Football Conference in 1948 and 1949. Cleveland won the league championship both of those years.
Parseghian's playing career was cut short by a hip injury. He left the Browns and took a job as an assistant coach at Miami of Ohio. When head coach Woody Hayes left in 1951 to coach at Ohio State University, Parseghian took over his job. He stayed in that position until 1956, when he was hired as head coach at Northwestern University in Illinois. In eight seasons there, he amassed a win-loss-tie record of 36–35–1 and helped turn a perennial loser into a consistent contender in the national polls. Parseghian's success attracted the interest of Notre Dame, which had not posted a winning record in five straight seasons. He was hired as coach in 1964 and quickly turned the program around, coming close to capturing a national championship in his first year. He proceeded to win two national titles in 11 seasons as coach of the Fighting Irish, a period often referred to as "the Era of Ara". He never had a losing season at Notre Dame and posted an overall record of 95–17–4, giving him the third-most wins of any coach in school history after Rockne and Lou Holtz.
Parseghian retired from coaching in 1974 and began a broadcasting career calling college football games for ABC and CBS. He also dedicated himself to medical causes later in life after his daughter was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and three of his grandchildren died of a rare genetic disease. Parseghian was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1980. His career coaching record is 170–58–6.
December 15th, 2017
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