The Archivist’s Nook: A Knute Rockne Protégé at CUA

Left to right, CUA Football Coach Arthur J. “Dutch” Bergman, NFL Hall of Famer and Redskins great Sammy Baugh, and assistant coaches Wayne Millner and Forrest Cotton, 1939
Left to right, CUA Football Coach Arthur J. “Dutch” Bergman, NFL Hall of Famer and Redskins great Sammy Baugh, and assistant coaches Wayne Millner and Forrest Cotton, 1939

As I mentioned in a previous post in June, I am currently attempting to make heads or tails of the university’s athletic collection (not an easy task, when you have material related to basketball mixed in with field hockey). During a recent adventure in the collection’s voluminous news clippings, I stumbled upon a connection between the CUA football program and legendary Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne. A brief clipping taken from the San Francisco Examiner c.1935 described the November 28, 1935, contest between CUA and North Carolina State. This game would feature CUA head coach Arthur J. “Dutch” Bergman and NC State coach Heartley “Hunk” Anderson (I think Coach Bergman won the better nickname category).

Ronald Reagan as George "The Gipper" Gipp in Knute Rockne, All American (Warner Bros., 1940)
Ronald Reagan as George “The Gipper” Gipp in Knute Rockne, All American (Warner Bros., 1940)

What does this have to do with Rockne? The article notes, and Internet research confirms, that both coaches played together on the same Notre Dame team led by Rockne in 1919 (click here for more on that team), when Bergman was a senior halfback and Anderson a sophomore guard. Even more amazing, an article written by former CUA sports information director Chris McManes notes that during Bergman’s senior year at Notre Dame, he was the roommate of none other than George Gipp (the real guy, not Ronald Reagan), of “win one for the Gipper” fame (which leads one to wonder if during their time together Gipp ever asked Bergman to wash the dishes just once for the Gipper).

Knute Rockne, All American movie poster (Warner Bros., 1940)
Knute Rockne, All American movie poster (Warner Bros., 1940)

While room here does not allow for all that could be said about Coach Bergman, it would be an understatement that he was truly a remarkable man in early college football. A star at Notre Dame, he remains Catholic’s all-time winningest coach with 59 victories between 1930 and 1940  including arguably the biggest win in school history, the 1936 Orange Bowl triumph over Ole Miss, as well as a tie with Arizona State in the 1940 Sun Bowl. Oh, he would also triumph over his former teammate that Thanksgiving Day in 1935, 8-0.

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