For many Irish fans, heading to the national championship game this season feels like a date with destiny. Head coach Brian Kelly is in his third season with the Fighting Irish.
That might not sound like much. But he is now the now the fifth ND coach to go to the big game in his third year at the university.
The legend started with Frank Leahy in 1943, in his third year as head coach.
Then in 1966, Ara Parseghian led the Irish to a 9-0-1 season, including the controversial 10-10 tie game against Michigan State. He secured the eighth National Championship Title for the Irish after defeating USC 51-0. That was his third year as coach and by then, a pattern was starting to develop.
It continued in 1977, when Dan Devine coached the Fighting Irish to an 11-1 season. Notre dame, with quarterback Joe Montana at the helm, beat Texas 38-10 in the Cotton Bowl to claim the National Championship. That was the 10th national title for the Irish and, sure enough, that was Devine's third year as head coach.
The magic continued in 1988. Coached by Lou Holtz, the Irish went undefeated in the regular season including the memorable 31-30 upset of number-one-ranked Miami. Notre Dame topped West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl, winning 34-21 and bringing home the 11th national title for the Irish. It was Lou Holtz's third year as head coach.