Terence Patrick Brennan (June 11, 1928 – September 7, 2021) was an American college football player and coach. He served as the head football coach at the University of Notre Dame from 1954 to 1958, compiling a record of 32–18.
|Born||June 11, 1928|
|Died||September 7, 2021 (aged 93)|
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|1949–1952||Chicago Mount Carmel HS (IL)|
|1953||Notre Dame (freshmen)|
|Head coaching record|
Early life and playing careerEdit
A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and a standout multi-sport athlete at Marquette University High School, Brennan played halfback at Notre Dame from 1945 to 1948, graduating in 1949. In 1951, he married Mary Louise "Kel" Kelley. Kel Brennan died in 2001.
After graduating from Notre Dame, Brennan coached at Mount Carmel High School in Chicago and won three successive city championships. Brennan returned to Notre Dame in 1953 as freshman football coach and succeeded Frank Leahy as head coach the following year.
In 1954, Notre Dame had a 9–1 record, with players recruited by Leahy. In 1955, the Irish were 8–2. In 1956, Brennan had mostly sophomore starters, due to numerous injuries; the result was a 2–8 record, and the first losing season for Notre Dame since 1933 and the worst in school history. However, running back Paul Hornung won the Heisman Trophy that year.
Brennan's 1957 squad earned the nickname, "Comeback Comets" after finishing 7–3. Among their victories was a 23–21 comeback over Army and a 7–0 shutout of Oklahoma, snapping the Sooners' NCAA record 47-game winning streak.
After a 6–4 record in 1958, the movement to dismiss Brennan gained momentum, and the coach was fired along with his entire staff in mid-December; Hugh Devore was eventually retained. Notre Dame's administration was heavily criticized for the firing, considering Brennan's overall 32–18 record against the caliber of their opponents. He was succeeded as Notre Dame's head coach by Joe Kuharich.
Though the Odds Be Great or Small is the full self-telling of Coach Brennan’s personal story as he pulled the Notre Dame football program back from the brink of disaster and provided the game plan for one of the vaunted program’s greatest all-time wins and one of the biggest upsets in football history. Completing the book just months prior to his passing, it serves as living legacy and capstone for a life lived well – heavy on virtues and full of purpose as Brennan was a touchstone for countless people looking to be their best self.
Co-author, William J. Meiners is a writer, an editor, and the founder of Sport Literate, which celebrated its 25th anniversary issue in 2020 as a preeminent journal for all things sports.
Terry Brennan, Jr. served as a collaborator for the book, celebrating his dad’s remarkable journey as father and son compiling amazing memories and lessons learned.
Though the Odds Be Great or Small is available on the online Loyola Press store, Amazon, and bookstores everywhere.
Later life and honorsEdit
Brennan served as player conditioning coach for baseball's Cincinnati Reds during spring training in 1959 and eventually joined a Chicago investment banking firm.
He died on September 7, 2021, at the age of 93. He is survived by his wife, six children, 25 grandchildren, and 32 great-grandchildren.
Head coaching recordEdit
|Notre Dame Fighting Irish (NCAA University Division independent) (1954–1958)|
- Bromberg, Nick (8 September 2021). "Former Notre Dame running back and head coach Terry Brennan dies". Yahoo Sports. Retrieved 8 September 2021.