clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Mt. Rushmore: Charlie O'Rourke

We continue our profile of Boston College sports greats to arrive at our BC athletics make-believe Mt. Rushmore...

Two profiles left before we unveil our Boston College Mt. Rushmore. These last two candidates didn't get much love in our side bar poll, but as equal opportunity bloggers, we profile them here nevertheless.

Name: Charles O'Rourke a.k.a. "Chuckin' Charlie"
Died: April 2000 (age 82)
Sport: Football (quarterback and tailback)
BC Era: 1938-1940

Standings: Finished in 12th place with 5% of the vote, ahead of only Art Donovan (4%) and Mike Mottau (3%)

Why He's In
  • Led the Eagles to a record of 26-3-2 (.839) over his three year career
  • O'Rourke was a triple threat who played tailback for the Eagles during the 1939 season, a team that finished 9-2 and made their first ever bowl appearance against Clemson in the Cotton Bowl
  • During his senior year, beat Georgetown 19-18 to snap their 22 consecutive game winning streak in a game called the "greatest college football game ever played." With BC leading 19-16 with 2 minutes left in the fourth, ... "O'Rourke raced back to his end zone, eluding tacklers for almost a full minute before taking a safety. He then punted BC out of trouble and preserved a 19-18 victory."
  • Quarterbacked the 1940 team to their 11-0 season, a Sugar Bowl victory over Tennessee, and a claim of the "mythical" national championship
  • "It was O'Rourke's 24-yard run late in the fourth quarter which gave the Eagles a 19-13 victory over Tennessee in the 1941 Sugar Bowl, staking BC's claim to the national championship. A photo showing O'Rourke in mid-scamper became a staple of BC Athletic Association publications and materials."
  • Although most of his QB records were later broken by Eagles greats like Doug Flutie, Glenn Foley and Matt Ryan, when he graduated he had broken nearly every school passing record there was (69 of 150 passes for 1,108 yards and 14 touchdowns over his 3 year career)
  • All-American selection in 1940 after his senior year
  • Inducted into the Boston College Varsity Club Hall of Fame in 1970, and one of seven players to have their jersey retired by the school
  • Inducted to the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame in 1972
  • After O'Rourke ended his career at BC, experts persisted in proclaiming him "the greatest football player" in the school's history

Maybe Not?
  • Largely overshadowed by those Eagle quarterback greats that came after him - Doug Flutie and Matt Ryan - and hurt by the absence of college football television coverage, or should I say, playing college football before TV was even invented (the Flutie "Miracle in Miami" on CBS over Thanksgiving and the ESPN-Matt Ryan hype machine)
  • How much of the 1939 and 1940 Eagles teams' success is the direct result of O'Rourke's contributions and how much was the result of the arrival of Frank Leahy?
  • Just how many quarterbacks can one mountain hold?

  • Last year, the Boston College Gridiron Club memorialized O'Rourke's name with the creation of the O'Rourke-McFadden Trophy, to honor the 1940 Cotton Bowl matchup between Charlie O'Rourke and Clemson's Banks McFadden. The trophy is given to the annual winner of the Boston College-Clemson game.

No other Boston College quarterback can claim that they led the team to an undefeated, untied season. If you didn't vote for Frank Leahy because he bolted for Notre Dame, how about the quarterback that got the team to 11-0?