Back to search

Jesse Harper


Jesse Claire Harper

Inducted 1971

Date of Birth



Paw Paw, IL


University of Notre Dame (1913-1917)

Wabash College (1909-1912)

Alma College (1906-1907)


With a receding hairline and close-fitting wire-rimmed glasses, Jesse Harper appeared more like an accountant than a football coach, and even less like a man willing to take one of the biggest gambles the game has ever known. He was the man who developed the Gus Dorais-to-Knute Rockne passing combination which upset Army at West Point in 1913, and showed the football world the greatest potential weapon of the forward pass. Although legalized in 1906, few coaches used the pass than a couple of times a game - until Harper sent Dorais throwing to Rockne. Harper had learned his football while playing for Amos Alonzo Stagg as a member of the 1905 national champion Chicago Maroons. At Chicago, Harper became impressed with the shifting offense that he and Rockne would later refine into the famous Notre Dame shift- from the T-Formation to the box. A native of Illinois, Harper coached at Alma College (1906-07), and then at Wabash (1909-1912), until he accepted the head coaching post at Notre Dame in 1913. In five seasons with the Irish he had a an undefeated team in 1913 and posted a 33-5-1 record that began the great Notre Dame winning tradition. He turned the coaching reins over to Rockne in 1918, but returned to South Bend to serve as the Irish Athletic Director after Rockne was killed in a 1931 plane crash.


Wins 55

Losses 16

Ties 6

Icon Tickets

Secure your tickets now and be apart of the legacy. Don’t miss the chance to experience greatness firsthand!

Icon Membership

Unlock exclusive access and be part of something legendary. Join our community and enjoy premium benefits today!

Icon Shop

Take a piece of greatness home. Shop our exclusive collection of themed items and preserve the legacy in your own way!