By Matt Fortuna, The All-American
Crable Up Close:
- Named a two-time First-Team All-American in 1980 and 1981 (consensus).
- Two-time team captain and MVP owns ND record for most career tackles (521).
- His 26 tackles against Clemson in 1979 are tied for the most ever in an FBS game.
- Played for College Football Hall of Fame Coach Dan Devine and Gerry Faust.
- Becomes the 46th Fighting Irish player to enter the Hall.
Bob Crable’s wife, Lisa, received a package containing a commemorative football congratulating her husband on his election to the College Football Hall of Fame. To share the news, Lisa texted a picture to Bob, who wasn’t home. And, it turns out, he wasn’t quite a believer, given the circle of friends he often travels with.
“Honestly, what I was thinking, I’ve got buddies that would go to those extremes for practical jokes, and in my mind it was: Who’s doing this?” Crable said. “And, as I got a chance to zoom in, she called me and said: ‘What do you mean what is this? You made the Hall of Fame, you dope.’ At that point I zoomed in on the picture she sent and I saw the writing. It was pretty cool.”
It was a long time coming for Crable, whose Notre Dame career ended in 1982 with the linebacker atop the program’s all-time tackles list (521), a school record that still stands. So, too, do his school records of single-game tackles (26, against Clemson in 1979) and single-season tackles (187 in 1979).
That production resulted in Crable becoming the 46th Fighting Irish player to make the Hall, the most of any college. But he had advanced to the list of finalists five times before, so he had learned to rein in any personal expectations.
“My dad always told me if you get your hopes up for something, and it doesn’t happen, it’s worse than if you don’t get your hopes up for it and it does happen,” Crable said. “I’ve always looked at some of the awards and just thought: Hey, if it happens …
“And the other thing is football is such a team game. To look at the defensive linemen who have played in front of me, the other linebackers — we did a lot of it together.”
In South Bend, Crable learned early that the going wasn’t always going to be easy — before inheriting a rather unique situation for a college star. After slogging through his freshman campaign, Crable was “as homesick as you could be.” The Irish had won the Cotton Bowl in Joe Montana’s “chicken soup” game, but Crable asked his mom for permission to transfer to hometown Cincinnati. She told him he had already made it through half of his freshman year and to give it at least another half before reconsidering. Sure enough, he did just that.
“When I got through spring ball, and I was able to start that sophomore year, that was a big deal to me,” Crable said. “That’s probably one of the reasons why I went back.”
The bigger break came for Crable after his junior year, when Hall of Fame coach Dan Devine stepped down and was replaced by Gerry Faust of Moeller High — Crable’s alma mater. Few get the chance to play for the same prep and college coach. Few go on to become first-round draft picks, too. And — again in the case of Crable — few get to see their son follow in their footsteps, as Matt Crable is a quarterback at Division II Grand Valley State (Mich.).
“It’s been a great experience for him, and it’s the same thing that I had at Notre Dame,” said Crable, who now works in real estate. “One of (Matt’s) roommates is another quarterback. So, that [fosters] the whole idea of competition and friendship. I always thought that it was a little bit tougher. He looks at it and he just rolls with the punches. I guess that’s why he’s a quarterback. I was a little bit higher-strung than that.”