(Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire)
By: Phil Houk of Fighting Irish Preview
The final home game, Senior Day at Notre Dame, legacy and legends come to mind.
One last time to run out the tunnel into the house that Rockne built, and where the ghost of George Gipp resides. On to the acre of field that has seen the likes of Lujack, Hornung, Page, Browner, Rocket, Tim Brown, Lattner, Chris Zorich, and the Bus…. the list could go on for an hour, really.
Because if Notre Dame Stadium had a “ring of honor”, it wouldn’t fit.
This year several more greats will make that trek one last time. Eligibility rules being what they are in the year of COVID, just who is playing their last home game is a bit murky but here are some of the names to think about on this day of tribute. And one name in particular will always have a special place in my personal ND ring of honor.
Daelin Hayes, Liam Eichenberg, Ade Ogundeji, Shaun Crawford, Robert Hainsey, Jeremiah Owusu Koramoah and……… Ian Book.
Ian Book is 29-3 as a starter. From the most impactful position on the field Ian Book has orchestrated a historic run of winning for Notre Dame and in Notre Dame Stadium.
Ian Book, is undefeated as a starter at home and in fact is the winningest quarterback in ND history.
Ian Book, out of high school was a 3-star recruit from El Dorado Hills, California, and was rated as the 20th best pro style quarterback in the nation. When he flipped his commitment from Washington State in August of 2015, I took a look. Admittedly, I was underwhelmed.
Shows how wrong first impressions can be.
Book redshirted and then in the Spring of 2017 he battled Brandon Wimbush for the starting position, Wimbush won the job, but I thought Book out played Wimbush in the Spring game, and I wrote that.
He had his first coming out party in the Citrus Bowl game that season against LSU. After replacing an ineffective Wimbush, it was Book to Boykin from 55 yards out for the comeback win. Ian Book’s first ND moment, one which I viewed from just a few yards away on the Notre Dame sideline.
Coming out party number two occurred in the 4th game of 2018 against Wake Forest, again taking over from an ineffective Wimbush, Book got the start and after 325 yards through the air, 2 touchdown passes, 3 more running, and a 56-27 win, the job was his, and rightfully stayed his.
Since then Book has led the Irish to wins, lots of them.
An undefeated regular season in 2018 in route to the College Football Playoff. 2019, an 11-2 final tally and another Bowl triumph. A double overtime win over #1 Clemson a few weeks ago, and at 9-0 in 2020, all things remain possible for Ian Book’s last Notre Dame team.
Sure, sometimes he scares the heck out of you with his improvised efforts to make plays, and there has been that maddening at times trait of inconsistency, but really only one thing matters: winning, and Ian Book is a winner.
Rice, Huarte, Theismann, Clements, Quinn, Montana, and more are among the immortals who have quarterbacked in that stadium, but as Ian Book enters the field known for its legends one last time, think about this: Ian Book has won more often than any of them.
So, add another name to that big list, and give it a special place.