SOUTH BEND – For the duration of his college or university days, Bobby Leopold made use of to result in pretty a stir when he’d test to make a obtain at the area mall.
It was not just his budding fame as a commencing linebacker on Notre Dame’s 1977 national championship team. It was the actuality everybody understood him by his nickname.
His provided name is Leroy Joseph Leopold Jr.
“I’d go to the mall and publish a check, and they would say, ‘Do you have a brother at Notre Dame named Bobby?’” Leopold remembers. “I’d say, ‘No, that is essentially me.’ Bobby is just a nickname. What I started carrying out, on my checks now I’ll have Leroy (Bobby) Leopold, just due to the fact a lot more men and women know me that way.”
The confusion adopted Leopold into the NFL, exactly where he teamed again with previous Battling Irish teammate Joe Montana and gained a Tremendous Bowl ring with the 1981 San Francisco 49ers. Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh would botch Leopold’s name on situation.
“Whenever coach Walsh was remaining formal with me, he would get in touch with me, ‘Robert,’” Leopold claims. “I really do not know if he ever understood my name was Leroy Leopold.”
As a toddler Leopold experienced trouble saying the term “bottle.” As he ran all-around the loved ones home in Port Arthur, Texas, pointing and blurting out, “I want my Bobby. I want my Bobby,” the nickname trapped.
Now 61, Leopold is in his fifth year teaching Sophisticated Placement Economics at Memorial Large School again in Port Arthur. He moved again to his hometown right after his mom died so he could just take treatment of his namesake father, now 83.
Leopold performed five seasons in the NFL, the last coming with the Green Bay Packers in 1986, before creating a occupation as a banker and developer. He oversaw the development of a few economical housing apartment complexes, but his commercial actual estate holdings are down to just a single senior home in Houston.
Like Leopold, the principal at Memorial Large is a graduate of crosstown rival Lincoln Large, exactly where the linebacker starred in the mid-1970s. Word acquired all-around that Leopold experienced moved again to city, which prompted a get in touch with from the principal’s workplace.
“He termed me up and questioned me if I required to train economics,” Leopold claims with a chuckle. “Actually what they required me to do was coach. I reported, ‘Look, I never taught in my lifetime.’ He reported, ‘Supply and desire is however a factor.’”
Leopold agreed and enrolled in an accelerated accreditation program so he could start out his teaching occupation. He enjoys teaching economics, but that has not stopped the recruiting tries from the football people.
“The head football coach for the initially a few yrs I was right here would say, ‘Bobby, we confident could use you on our staff,’” Leopold claims. “But I have no need to coach. I assume I’m just burned out from that component of it. As well as, it’s lengthy several hours coaching. In between teaching and grading papers and carrying out lesson designs, I just really do not have the time to do them equally.”
Leopold performed for his father in substantial school, exactly where he drew sturdy recruiting interest throughout the Southwest Meeting. Baylor and Hall of Fame coach Grant Teaff took the early guide, but Texas tried out to soar in late, to no avail.
“Texas required me to come and take a look at throughout the Xmas getaway,” Leopold claims. “I didn’t want to go take a look at then due to the fact everybody was going to be absent. I assume they ended up receiving ready for a bowl sport.”
It was prime-rated Texas that Leopold and the Irish pounded 38-10 in the 1978 Cotton Bowl to rocket up from No. 5 in the national rankings to declare the prime location right after a series of upsets.
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Leopold also frequented Arkansas, exactly where a youthful assistant coach from his hometown recruited him.
“Jimmy Johnson recruited me to go to Arkansas,” Leopold claims. “He’s a Port Arthur man. He went to Thomas Jefferson (Large School).”
Johnson was in the stands on an epic Friday night when Leopold dominated rival Port Neches-Groves.
“I experienced a seriously good sport,” Leopold claims. “I knocked this man out, and they experienced to come get him off the industry.”
Monday morning, Johnson confirmed up at Lincoln Large and pulled Leopold out of English course so they could talk.
“He reported, ‘Bobby, I’m not going to retain you lengthy, but I just want you to save a single of your 6 visits to come take a look at us up at Arkansas,’” Leopold remembers. “He reported, ‘I want you to come up there and knock out men and women like you did the other night.’”
Johnson, the Razorbacks’ defensive coordinator at the time, manufactured pretty an perception on the youthful linebacker.
“He was a area man and he was aboveboard with all the things,” Leopold claims. “Frank Broyles was the head coach at that time, but Jimmy Johnson took me to the airport right after my take a look at. He reported, ‘Bobby, glimpse, I simply cannot say that you’re going to come right here and start off or everything like that. But I can ensure that you are going to fit out for games.’”
By then Leopold experienced grown enamored with Notre Dame, thanks to his eighth-quality football coach, a gentleman named Bobby Hebert (no relation to the quarterback).
“He’s the a single who essentially confident me to just take my take a look at,” Leopold claims. “He was just a single of individuals subway alumni customers. He never went there. He experienced never been on the campus, but he was Catholic and he was just a Notre Dame fanatic.”
For the duration of his recruitment, Leopold confirmed Hebert a stack of letters, most of them from the condition of Texas and bordering regions.
“When are you going to take a look at Notre Dame?” Hebert questioned.
“Coach, I really do not assume I’m browsing Notre Dame. Which is not a single of my 6,” Leopold replied.
Hebert was incredulous.
“He reported, ‘You’ve acquired to go take a look at Notre Dame!’ “ Leopold remembers. “He reported, ‘You’ve acquired to wander on that same industry as Knute Rockne and the Four Horsemen. You have acquired to stand on the considerably conclusion of the industry and glimpse at Touchdown Jesus. You have acquired to go just to say you have been on that campus.’”
Leopold acquired on the aircraft and frequented South Bend. There he bonded with the likes of Ross and Jim Browner, Willie Fry and Luther Bradley.
“We went to a party that night, and they ended up chatting about how great the team was going to be,” Leopold claims. “They just confident me to go.”
Brian Boulac, the longtime offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator, then tried out to seal the deal.
“He reported to me, ‘Bobby, I’m going to convey to you, if we really do not win a national championship in the 4 yrs that you’re up there, all of the coaches need to be fired,’” Leopold remembers.
At 7 a.m. on national signing working day, Boulac was in the Leopold residing space in Port Arthur but he experienced company: assistants from Baylor and Kansas Point out.
“I experienced termed coach Boulac the night before and instructed him I was type of leaning toward Baylor,” Leopold claims. “He was in Houston. He was going to indication someone in Houston initially, then come to Port Arthur. He reported, ‘Bobby, really do not indication everything. I’ll be there at 7.’ He rearranged his timetable so I’d be the initially a single.”
Basic recruiting chaos was about to ensue.
“All a few of individuals coaches ended up sitting in my residing space at 7 a.m.,” Leopold claims. “My father termed me aside and reported, ‘Look, you have acquired to cope with this. These guys have all devoted a whole lot of time and effort into you. If you have manufactured up your mind, just go in advance and convey to them what you have resolved to do.’”
Leopold walked again into his residing space, thanked the coaches for their interest and declared he would go to Notre Dame.
“The Kansas Point out coach, he acquired up and still left,” Leopold claims. “The Baylor coach (Wade Turner), due to the fact Grant Teaff experienced come to the residence and all that, he reported, ‘We seriously want you at Baylor. If Notre Dame would like you as bad as we want you, then they would be keen to keep your scholarship until eventually May perhaps like we are.’ “
Leopold stood his ground.
“I reported, ‘Coach, I respect that, but I’ve manufactured up my mind that I’m going to Notre Dame,’” Leopold claims. “I was just tired of the recruiting method.”
Stick to IndyStar Notre Dame Insider Mike Berardino on Twitter at @MikeBerardino.