Wonder why Rudy tried so hard to get into Notre Dame? The following credentials may have something to do with the Fighting Irish being considered the most storied program in college football history:

The Irish are the most popular team in the country. That is, according to a recent survey by The Harris Poll of a nationwide cross section of adults. The 2004 survey was released Nov. 12. Notre Dame is followed by Ohio State and Michigan.

The Irish win and win and win . . . Coming into the 2003 season, Notre Dame had the best winning percentage of any team in Division I college football at .746.

Double-digit national titles: Notre Dame has won 11 consensus national championships, eight since the Associated Press football poll began in 1936.

Heisman history: The Irish can boast seven Heisman Trophy winners: Angelo Bertelli (1943), John Lujack (1947) Leon Hart (1949), John Lattner (1953), Paul Hornung (1956), John Huarte (1964) and Tim Brown (1987). The seven winners are the most of any college football program.

Legendary coaches: Five Notre Dame coaches have been elected to the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame. They are Jesse Harper, Knute Rockne, Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian and Dan Devine.