Rockne's family immigrated from Norway when he was five years old. He attended the College of Notre Dame, played football, and became the team's head coach in 1918. His record of 105–12–5 over thirteen years is the best in the history of college football.
His teams included legendary players such as the "Four Horsemen" and George Gipp, the latter of whom figured prominently in the feature film Knute Rockne—All-American. Rockne is responsible for making Notre Dame football into a nationally prominent and highly profitable enterprise. Midway through his coaching career, in 1925, he entered the Catholic Church. He died in an airplane accident en route to Los Angeles.