Dan Devine (December 22, 1924 - May 9, 2002) was a football coach who served as head coach at three colleges and also served for four years as head coach of the Green Bay Packers from 1971 to 1974. During his final coaching stint, he led the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to the 1977 national championship.
Devine graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth in 1948 with a bachelor's degree in history, serving as team captain of both the baseball and football squads and playing as a 170-pound quarterback in the latter sport. His time at the school had begun in 1942, but was interrupted after his enlistment in the Army Air Corps during World War II. During this time, he became a flight officer working on B-29 planes.
On February 5, 1955, he accepted the head coaching position at Arizona State University, and joining him soon after was fellow Spartan assistant Frank Kush, who would have even greater success at the school after Devine's departure. During his three years with the Sun Devils, Devine compiled a record of 27-3-1, including a spotless 10-0 mark during his final campaign. In that last season, Devine's team led the nation in total offense and scoring, averaging just under 40 points per game in the latter category.
However, over the next 13 years, Devine would turn the once-dormant program into a consistently competitive school that finished with a Top 20 ranking nine times. His record of 92-38-7 during this span included four bowl game victories, with his winning percentage passing that of Don Faurot, the legendary coach who had preceded him.
After finishing 5-4-1 in his first year, Devine (with two years left on his contract) gained even more job security when a Missouri alumni group funded a $150,000 life insurance policy that covered him as long as he remained as head coach of the Tigers. The investment paid off as Missouri never lost more than three games over the next decade.
In 1960, the Tigers began the year unranked, but after shutting out Southern Methodist University, 20-0, in the season opener, moved up to 16th and continued to head upward in the weekly rankings. Following that win with eight straight victories, Missouri became the top-ranked team in the country following a 41-19 victory over the University of Oklahoma.
Needing only a victory over the University of Kansas to clinch a national championship, the Tigers (favored by a touchdown) instead were stunned in a 23-7 upset loss--later reversed after an investigation revealed that KU's Bert Coan had received illegal benefits and was thus ineligible. After an Orange Bowl victory over Navy on January 1, 1961, Missouri finished the year ranked fifth in a season which saw upwards of four teams claim a share of the national title.
While never again reaching that level, Missouri maintained its strength throughout the 1960s, with Devine taking on the added duties of athletic director in 1967. During his three years in the latter role, he made a key hiring when he selected Norm Stewart to head the fortunes of the school's men's basketball squad.
After finishing 9-1 in 1969, Missouri faced Penn State University in the 1970 Orange Bowl. The Nittany Lions entered the game with a 28-game winning streak, and extended the string by intercepting seven Tiger passes in a 10-3 defensive battle.
Devine's four-year tenure in Green Bay got off to a painful start when he suffered a broken leg following a sideline collision in the season-opening 42-40 defeat to the New York Giants. After finishing 4-8-2 that season, Devine headed a brief resurgence that "The Pack is Back" by dethroning the four-time division champion Minnesota Vikings to reach the NFL playoffs for the first time in five years. The Packers lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Washington Redskins, 16-3 on Christmas Eve. It would be the last time the Packers would reach the post-season until the strike-shortened season of 1982; Green Bay would not return to the playoffs in a full season until 1993.
However, the next two consecutive losing seasons (5-7-2 in 1973 and 6-8 in 1974) were disappointing. Prior to his last season as Packers head coach in 1974, Devine also orchestrated a trade widely considered to be one of the worst in NFL history. He traded two 1st round picks, two 2nd round picks, and a 3rd round pick for 34-year old quarterback John Hadl from the Los Angeles Rams. To make matters worse, Devine's wife developed multiple sclerosis. All these factors resulted in Devine leaving the Packers on December 16, 1974 to become the head coach at the University of Notre Dame.
Because he had the unenviable task of following a legend, Devine was subjected to much scrutiny while at Notre Dame and it was felt that he was never fully embraced by the Notre Dame community despite winning a national championship. After a 5-2 start in his first season, rumors of incompetence were circulated and that Devine would be dismissed and replaced by Don Shula or even Ara Parseghian (who went so far as to say he would not return to Notre Dame under any circumstances). Even on the day of the 1977 USC game, "Dump Devine" bumper stickers were being sold outside Notre Dame Stadium. He also had the notoriety of losing to his old program, a shocking 3-0 loss to the Tigers at South Bend in 1978.
It wasn't until after Devine had left Notre Dame and the program had fallen on hard times under his successor, Gerry Faust, that the Irish faithful began to appreciate him.
Like Joe Kuharich before him, Devine was involved in a game while at Notre Dame whose ending resulted in a rule change still in effect today. On September 15, 1979, the Irish faced the Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor in their season opener. With six seconds remaining, Michigan lined up for a game-winning field goal attempt. Notre Dame linebacker Bob Crable climbed up onto the back opposing center George Lilja and was able to block the kick, preserving a 12-10 Irish victory. A new rule was implemented the following season that prohibited this tactic.
DAN DEVINE: 1924-2002 COACH LEAVES LASTING MEMORIES FROM THE JOHN HADL TRADE TO HIS DOG, THE FORMER PACKERS COACH WAS A TOPIC OF DISCUSSION.(SPORTS)
May 10, 2002; Byline: Jason Wilde Wisconsin State Journal It was June 1971, and Bob Harlan was a 34-year-old public relations director for the...