If you’ve seen Rudy, then you know that former Notre Dame head football coach Ara Parseghian had an enormous influence on Rudy Ruettiger, and it all began with an office visit in South Bend in the mid-1970s.
“It was a do-or-die moment walking into the coaching office of Ara Parseghian and kind of letting him know what my dream was – and instead of shattering that dream, he embraced it,” Reuttiger said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “He just saw something that he embraced: a passion and a belief and a commitment and a heart. He recognized that and instead of destroying it, he allowed it to take its own course, which I think is very important. That’s why he was very successful with the team, with the coaching staff, and how he coached at Notre Dame.”
Rudy, of course, expressed his desire to walk on to the Notre Dame football team. He was successful in that endeavor, and thus, will always be grateful to Parseghian, who passed away Wednesday at the age of 94.
Parseghian coached at Notre Dame for 11 seasons, leading the Irish to national championships in 1966 and 1973. He had a senior of humor, Reuttiger said, but he also had presence.
“When Ara walked in that locker room, he didn’t have to say anything,” Reuttiger said. “You knew his presence. If you were messing around, you shut up. He earned the respect of each player. He was a serious coach but a fun coach at the same time and very flexible with people. He gave people more than one shot.”