Iowa State linebacker Mike Rose, grandfather Chuck Lima share bond through Notre Dame
ORLANDO, Fla. — Mike Rose has long been captivated by Notre Dame football.
The fight song, the gold helmets, the national championships and Touchdown Jesus were all part of his consciousness and the very fabric of his entire family during his childhood. That love, though, was rooted in one person.
“My grandpa was always my idol,” the Cyclones sophomore linebacker said, “and the person that made me want to play college football.”
Chuck Lima, a two-way starter for the Irish from 1954-57, embodied old-school football as a fullback and linebacker, and passed those traits of toughness through his family. Now he will have an opportunity to see two of his life’s great interests, family and Notre Dame, collide.
Iowa State and the AP No. 14 Irish will meet for the first time ever in football this weekend in the Camping World Bowl (noon EST; ABC-TV), and Lima will have two rooting interests. Really, though, it’s no decision at all when it comes to favoring one over the other.
“If there is a direct conflict, I must tell you, my grandkids win out,” Lima said. “Mike has made the last couple of football seasons so very interesting to me. I usually rely on just checking up when I can about the Notre Dame game. I watch Mike every down.”
Lima doesn’t miss much when it comes to how ISU and Rose are doing, taking advantage of all of life’s modern conveniences.
“He’s constantly online following Mike and loves to hear about the games,” Julie Rose, Mike’s mom and Lima’s daughter, said. “When Mike is home, they have some really nice conversations. He’s loving it. We’re just so happy for him. It’s just really brought him a lot of joy.”
Lima starred in a different era of college football. It was the days of “three yards and a cloud of dust,” which ultimately helped the Irish pull off one of the biggest wins in the game, a 7-0 upending of Oklahoma to snap the Sooners’ NCAA-record, 47-game winning streak. From then on, it was all Notre Dame all the time for Lima and his young family.
The love of Notre Dame was passed down to Lima’s six children, including Julie, who carried it on with her five boys. Notre Dame on fall Saturdays was a way of life.
“We had the ‘Play Like A Champion Today’ sign framed a couple places in the house,” Julie said. “We had one room that had the Fatheads of the golden helmets on the wall in one of my boys’ rooms. We passed it along.”
Mike Rose heard all the stories of his grandpa’s playing days, but only saw one snippet of film that featured Lima in a uniform — from that narrow win over Oklahoma. Still, the conversations and bonds the two developed over football carried Rose all the way through childhood and into high school. When Lima moved from Cincinnati to Brecksville, Ohio, it solidified.
“I watched Mike all along,” Lima said. “He knows about where I come from as it relates to the game of football. We’ve had a good relationship. In fact I keep in touch with him, texting with him. That kid always gets back to me. He’s a pretty damn good football player, but boy, he’s a neat kid.”
Rose was a three-year starter at Brecksville-Broadview Heights High in Ohio, and was a standout defensive player his senior season. A light recruitment, however, ultimately led to him committing to Ball State, with Power 5 schools standing down. Everything changed when ISU came into the picture.
When Cyclones head coach Matt Campbell and linebackers coach Tyson Veidt started to come into contact with Rose, the sense that Lima, a football lifer, got from the pair was strong. They reminded him of the coaches he had.
“He loves coach Campbell and coach Veidt, especially when they came for my in-home visit. He was there,” Rose said of Lima. “He had a blast talking to them, so really just talking about how I’m doing and how coach Veidt and coach Campbell are doing.”
Said Lima: “Campbell, there’s something special. I’d run through a wall for them. That’s how I put it to Mike. If you feel that way, you’ve got a good relationship with the guy.”
Rose, a sophomore, has started 25 games over the last two years, was a freshman All-American in 2018 and was flexed between middle and outside linebacker this season. Those moves aren’t quite as drastic as the types Lima made at Notre Dame going between offense and defense, but it requires that same kind of savviness to pull off both.
“You’re out in space. There’s faster guys,” Rose said. “The tackles you have aren’t in the box. You need to really break down, know where your help is and force the ball back. From that aspect it’s pretty challenging, but that’s the biggest difference.”
Maybe Rose isn’t giving himself enough credit?
“It’s instinctual with him,” Lima said. “His brother started four years at Hillsdale (Mich.) College at middle linebacker, and they both have an instinct to find the ball pretty well. That’s the start of things happening.”
Even though Lima has been removed from his playing days for several decades, he jumps at the chance to give a scouting report on his grandson. It might not read so differently from the one somebody may have written about him.
“He’s a tough kid. He’s not afraid of the contact,” Lima said of Rose. “Football requires you to sort of give up your body. And, boy, he gives it up. He goes from sideline to sideline and I think that served him better as the middle linebacker, but I’m proud of the fact that he went outside like that. That’s where I played.”
Lima has only seen Rose play in one game in person for the Cyclones — this season at West Virginia — but he wasn’t going to miss the chance to see his alma mater and his family share the field this weekend. He was set to arrive Friday and planned to sit in the ISU family section.
Just look for the man in nondescript clothing amongst the sea of cardinal and gold.
“I’m not going to blare out that I’m pulling for Iowa State,” Lima said, “but you can let them know I’ll certainly root for my grandson, and that means he’s gotta play well and, hopefully, win the game.”