Former Irish Head Coach and Star Player Passes Away

Terry Brennan an explosive halfback and five year head coach at ND during the 40s and 50s, has passed away. He was 93.

Brennan accepted the ND position at the tender age of 25. When hired he was asked if he thought he was too young for the job. His reply, “Oh, I don’t know. I’ll be 26 in a few months.” He succeeded the legendary Frank Leahy, whose shadow loomed large. In five seasons at ND he compiled a record of 32-18. 

Brennan also had a successful career at ND as a running back from 1945-1948, scoring an impressive 21 touchdowns. And playing on two National Champion teams. 

After graduation he passed on pro football and moved to Chicago where he became a high school football coach. He also attended DePaul University where he earned a law degree. As a high school coach he won three straight city championships. In 1953 Leahy offered him the job as head coach of his freshman team, after one season, Brennan’s meteoric rise continued. Leahy retired, and ND President Theodore Hesburgh offered the top job to Brennan. 

Brennan’s tenure in South Bend was, except for one season, very good. 9-1 in 1954 and 8-2 in 1955 culminated in top 5 rankings. But the wheels fell off with a 2-8 record in 1956, a season which was somewhat more palatable because Paul Hornung managed to win the Heisman Trophy.

In 1957 Brennan masterminded a 7-0 win at Oklahoma that ended the Sooners all time record 47-game winning streak and that team finished with a 7-3 record. But Brennan never quite recovered from the 1956 season. A 6-4 finish in 1958 sealed his fate.

Brennan was preceded in death by his wife Kel (Mary Louise Kelley) and is survived by Terry Brennan (Gilmore), Denise “Dinny” Dwyer (John),  Jane Lipton (Richard), Chris Brennan (Dianne), Joe Brennan, Matt Brennan (Marilyn) along with 25 grandchildren and 32 great grandchildren. 

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