Tony Rice (born September 5, 1967 in
Carolina) is a former
professional American football
player, playing quarterback in the
Canadian Football League
and World League of
American Football. Rice is perhaps best remembered as the
dynamic option quarterback of the University of
Notre Dame's 1988 National Championship Team under coach
Rice would play
professional football for only two seasons for the Canadian Football League
's Saskatchewan Roughriders
of the World League of American
in 1991 and 1992.
Recruitment and Proposition 48
growing up in Woodruff, South Carolina, Rice played high school football for Woodruff High
School under Coach Willie Varner.
Rice entered Notre Dame in
1986 and was the crown jewel in Holtz's first recruiting class.
These incoming freshmen were also the first to be bound by the NCAA
rules of Proposition 48, which stated that in order to participate
during his (or her) freshman year, an athlete must (1) be a high
school graduate; (2) have a high school grade point average of 2.0
in an 11-course core curriculum; and (3) have scored 700 (out of a
possible 1600) on the SAT
or 17 (out of a
possible 36) on the ACT
. If he (or
she) failed to meet those standards, the athlete would not be
allowed to play or practice with a college team his (or her)
freshman year. Because Rice failed to meet the required 700 on his
SAT (he scored a 690), he was forced to sit out the entire 1986
season. Even with future NFL quarterback Steve Beuerlein
leading the offense, the
team struggled to a 5-6 record.
In 1987, Tony Rice became the starting quarterback for Notre Dame
following an injury to Terry
. The Irish would finish the season 8-4 and
earn a berth to the Cotton Bowl
Classic, where they would endure a 35-10 loss to 13th-ranked
A&M in a game where Rice played only sparingly.
Despite the loss, the team showed dramatic improvement and would
finish the year ranked #17 — the team's first Top-25 finish since
The elusive, strong-armed Rice was a perfect fit for Holtz's ball
control, run-oriented offense. Despite standing only 6'1"
200 lbs., he had great speed (4.5 40 yard dash time) for a
quarterback, and tremendous strength, which made him an incredibly
difficult player to contain. For the year he would finish with over
1,000 yards of total offense and 8 total TDs (663 yards, 1 TD
passing and 337 yards, 7 TDs rushing).
The 1988 National Championship Season
1988 would see Notre Dame claim their first National
in 11 years. For the season the team would go a
perfect 12–0 enroute to claiming an NCAA-record eighth AP National
Championship since the poll began in 1936. The season would feature
dramatic wins over top ranked opponents including Michigan, USC,
and Miami in addition to featuring several prominent future NFL
players including Raghib Ismail
, Chris Zorich
, Todd Lyght
, Pat Terrell
, Andy Heck
, Tim Grunhard
and Rodney Culver
. In all, 21 of the 22 starters
on the 1988 National Championship team would go on to play in the
, the lone exception being Tony Rice.
Matchup versus Miami
Miami was No.1 and Notre Dame No.4 when they met in South Bend on
Oct.15. The Irish held a 31–21 lead in the third quarter, but the
Hurricanes rallied to within 31–30 on a touchdown with 45 seconds
left in the game. The Canes went for the two-point conversion and
Matchup versus USC
Six weeks later, #1 Notre Dame visited #2 USC at the L.A. Coliseum.
The USC team led by All-American
future Johnny Unitas
Golden Arm Award
was 10-0 and a truly formidable team. Entering the game
Peete was leading the nation in passing and was a frontrunner for
the Heisman Trophy
. Notre Dame would
additionally be playing without leading pass catcher Ricky Watters
, and leading rusher Tony Brooks,
both of whom were suspended for arriving late to team meetings.
Tony Rice would have a spectacular day, including a breathtaking 65
yard TD run which would seal the victory. The Irish would win the
game handily 27-10 and propel them into the National Championship
Fiesta Bowl Win
into the 1989 Fiesta Bowl, Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz insisted that
his team couldn't pass the ball against West Virginia.
Tony Rice simply smiled and agreed. But by
the end of the game he had outplayed Mountaineer quarterback
by completing 7 of 11
passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns.
Rice would finish the year with 1,176 yards and 8 TDs passing and
700 yards and 9 TDs rushing.
- Featured on a total four Sports Illustrated covers during the
1988 and 1989 seasons.
- Named the No. 41 athlete in South Carolina history by Sports
- According to Don Yeager's Under The Tarnished Dome was
easily able to throw the ball 75 yards.
- Took up darts at the suggestion of a Notre Dame fan to improve
his accuracy throwing the football.
- Recently took up bowling and is averaging close to 200 in two
leagues, in South Bend, Indiana
- Living currently, in South Bend, Indiana working for "Blue and
Gold Shops" which is a Notre Dame apparel outlet for fans.