Nov. 10, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Two former stars of college football have joined the coaching staff of the Fighting Irish Legends who will play in the Notre Dame Japan Bowl in Tokyo, Japan, next summer.
Chris Zorich, a mainstay of the 1988 Notre Dame national championship season, will coach the defensive line of the Fighting Irish Legends against the Japanese senior national team in the Tokyo Dome on Saturday, July 25, 2009. On the offensive side of the ball, All-American and 1992 Heisman Trophy candidate Reggie Brooks will coach the team's running backs.
Former Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz will take charge of the Legends, an alumni team made up of former Fighting Irish football players, at the 55,000-seat Tokyo Dome in Japan's capital city. The game will be the highlight of an eight-day visit to Tokyo to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Japan American Football Association (JAFA).
"I am extremely honored to be representing the University of Notre Dame in this unique opportunity," said Zorich. "No other university has the fans or alumni to support a legends game halfway around the world in Japan like Notre Dame has. It is great that the mission of the University is known on a global scale.
"I have represented the University on many levels but none as a coach, so I am honored to have been selected by Hall of Fame Coach Lou Holtz to work with him in the Notre Dame Japan Bowl."
As the Manager for Monogram/Football Alumni Relations, Brooks is also charged with recruiting the Fighting Irish Legends playing staff and has been sending out invitations to former players, focusing on those who played at Notre Dame during the past decade. The Notre Dame Monogram Club will be the key university liaison group for this event.
Brooks said: "As a former Notre Dame player, and having participated in the last alumni game in Hamburg, Germany, I am truly honored to have the opportunity to coach in such a prestigious game. The chance to coach alongside Coach Holtz will be a great experience and to do it in a history-rich location like Japan only adds to the excitement."
Once a group of potential players has been identified, Holtz and his coaching staff will hold a testing combine at Notre Dame in April 2009. The final Fighting Irish Legends roster will then meet for a two-day mini-camp in South Bend on July 17 and 18 of 2009 before heading to Tokyo from July 19 to 26 as unique sporting ambassadors in Japan.
US Event Producer and President of Global Football Patrick Steenberge, who was a quarterback for the Fighting Irish in the early 1970s, said: "We are delighted to have two respected and well-known Fighting Irish legends of Chris' and Reggie's caliber on the coaching staff. We will announce more assistant coaches in the coming weeks."
Fighting Irish Legends Coaching Staff
Chris Zorich, Defensive Line
A former Notre Dame football player during the era of legendary coach Lou Holtz, Zorich became one of the best linemen to play college football and was an All-American in 1989 and 1990. He returned to his alma mater in 2008 as manager of student welfare and development in the Notre Dame athletic administration.
During his college years, he was an instrumental part of the 1988 Notre Dame national championship team and was inducted into the College Hall of Fame in 2007 - as only the third Notre Dame lineman to achieve the honor. Zorich played six seasons in the NFL after being drafted by the Chicago Bears in 1991.
He graduated from law school at the University of Notre Dame in 2002 after earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in American studies in 1991. He is chairman of the Chris Zorich Foundation in Chicago which was established in 1993 in honor of his mother who passed away his senior year to Notre Dame.
Reggie Brooks, Running Backs
A former football All-America running back and graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Brooks is the manager of Monogram and Football Alumni Relations for the Notre Dame Monogram Club.
A native of Tulsa, Okla., he played under former Irish head coach Lou Holtz from 1989-92. He remains visible throughout the Notre Dame record book as his career average of 7.6 yards per rush remains a school record and his 1,372 yards rushing in 1992 ranks third-best in single-season school history. The Washington Redskins selected Brooks in the second round of the 1993 NFL draft -- and he played four seasons, finishing with 1,726 career rushing yards including 223 attempts for 1,063 as a rookie in 1993. The Pro Football Writers of America named him to the NFL's 1993 all-rookie team.
About the Japan American Football Association (JAFA)
JAFA was established in 1935, celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2009 and currently has 390 teams playing at the corporate semi-professional, university and high school level with more than 18,000 active players. The Japanese football championship game, better known as the Rice Bowl, launched in 1948 as an east versus west all-star game. In 1983, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of American football in Japan, the Rice Bowl changed its format to one that pits the university champion against the corporate-sponsored semi-pro champion to determine the national champion. The annual game takes place during the national New Year's holiday in January.