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Full Text Publications > Knute Rockne's Recreation of a Pep Speech


Knute Rockne was the consummate showman. He used various forms of media to promote himself, his football team, and his school, the University of Notre Dame. At some point, the date is unclear, but most likely in the late 1920s, he recreated (or more accurately performed) a pep talk for the newsreels. This speech was not for any particular game or situation, but instead showed Rockne's general motivational techniques with his players. The following is a transcript from that performance:

          And the same backfield, Jimmy, you and Collins, Chevigny, and Niemiec. Now-w the success of any team men is based on team-play -- the same as you've shown all year --: Sacrifice; unselfish sacrifice! These are the fellows they say are pretty good; but I think we're better! And I think if we get ourselves keyed up to a point, and when we're confident of that ... why-y-y the results will take care of themselves.

          All right, now. On the kickoff -- if we receive, the zone men will drop back to the receiver and block long -- that old Notre Dame style. If we kickoff -- which the rest of the teams want -- let's run down fast -- just as fast as you can run. And then we go on defense. And on defense -- I want the center in and out of that line -- according to the situation. Use your old head! And I want you guards charging through as far as you can go -- on every play. Expect the play right over you every time --.

          And the tackles -- I want you to go in a yard and a half -- and then check yourselves. Spread your feet -- squat down low -- and be ready with your hands and elbows, so you won't be sideswiped. But I want the ends in there fast every play. Every play, but under control. And you men in the backfield there, I want you to analyze it before you move. If they throw a forward pass, a zone pass, wait ‘til you see the ball in the air -- and then go and get it! And when we get it, boys, that's when we go on offense. And that's when we go to ‘em -- and, don't forget, we're gonna pick on one last one tackle that is weak.

          We're going inside of ‘em, we're going outside of ‘em -- inside of ‘em! outside of ‘em! -- and when we get them on the run once, we're going to keep ‘em on the run. And we're not going to pass unless their secondary comes up too close. But don't forget, men -- we're gonna get ‘em on the run, we're gonna go, go, go, go! -- and we aren't going to stop until we go over that goal line! And don't forget, men -- today is the day we're gonna win. They can't lick us -- and that's how it goes... The first platoon men -- go in there and fight, fight, fight, fight, fight! What do you say, men!