COUNTDOWN TO SHOWDOWN
In the 25 days leading up to college football's championship game between No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 2 Alabama at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, the Chattanooga Times Free Press is counting down the traditions and memorable moments involving the Irish and the Crimson Tide. Today is No. 17.
On the south side of the Hesburgh Library on Notre Dame's campus is a 132-foot-high stone mosaic patterned after Millard Sheet's painting "The Word of Life," which features Christ teaching while surrounded by his apostles.
The mural of Christ with his hands extended upward is visible inside Notre Dame Stadium, and it has the more recognized reference of "Touchdown Jesus."
Installed in 1964, the mural contains 81 different types of stone material from 16 countries. Its fabrication was done in 171 finishes, according to the university, and contains 5,714 individual pieces.
A gift from Mr. and Mrs. Howard V. Phalin of Winnetka, Ill., the mural became partially obscured from the playing field when the stadium was expanded to more than 80,000 seats during the late 1990s.
Since the introduction of the mural, Notre Dame has won Associated Press national championships in 1966, '73, '77 and '88. The Irish also were recognized by other services as national champs in '64 and '67.
Alabama, which will face Notre Dame at the BCS title game in Miami on Jan. 7, has yet to prevail in front of "Touchdown Jesus." The Crimson Tide lost 21-18 in 1976 and 37-6 in '87.
Fans of opposing schools in recent years have enjoyed renaming the mural "Field Goal Jesus" in those seasons in which Notre Dame has struggled.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...