Former ND defensive tackle and All-American Mike Fanning died last Sunday (October 30) at the age of 69. Born in Mount Clemons, Michigan, he started at defensive tackle in 1973 and 1974. 6-6, 255 he was huge by 1970s standards and presented a very intimidating appearance.
Fanning was a key component on the 1973 National Championship team defensive line that included among others, Ross Browner and Steve Niehaus. The Irish defense that year held opposing teams to just 6.6 points per game, the best mark at ND in the last 60 years. Fanning contributed 61 total tackles to that effort and in the season’s first game, a 44-0 drubbing of Northwestern, he accounted for 3 sacks.
Also, an outstanding heavyweight wrestler, Fanning posted an 18-0 record on the mat, in the months after ND‘s win in the 1973 Sugar Bowl.
In 1974 he again terrorized offenses racking up 85 tackles including 12 tackles for loss. The ‘74 defense allowed a paltry 195.2 yards of offense per game, the best number in the nation. After the season Fanning was named a Walter Camp first team All-American.
Fanning was drafted in the first round (9th overall) of the NFL draft by the Los Angelas Rams. He had a successful ten-year pro career that include an eight-sack season in 1979 for the NFC Champion Rams.
Mke Fanning, ND 1971-1974, another Fighting Irish Preview, All-Time Irish Hero.