Of coaching football at Notre Dame, Knute Rockne once offered this
maxim: "One loss is good for the soul. Too many losses are not
good for the coach." No man understands this better than Gerry
Faust, who lost too many games while entrusted with college
football's version of the Heavenly Host. After winning his
Fighting Irish debut, a 27-9 victory over LSU in 1981 that
vaulted Notre Dame to No. 1 in the polls, Faust lost the next
week at Michigan and never again woke up the echoes. In amassing
a five-season record of 30-26-1, he lost more games than any of
the 23 coaches who had preceded him in South Bend. With the
Irish's famed subway alumni leading an Oust Faust campaign, the
embattled coach resigned on Nov. 26, 1985. "If I had a chance to
do it over again and knew the results were going to be the same,"
Faust says today, "I'd still do it."
In 1977 Faust, a Dayton alumnus who had built a dynasty at
Cincinnati's Moeller High (174-17-2 over 18 years), wrote a
letter to Father Edmund Joyce, the university's executive vice
president, professing his lifelong love of Notre Dame and his
interest in the Fighting Irish coaching job, should it ever
become available. When Dan Devine announced he was stepping down
in '80, Faust got the promotion of a lifetime from Joyce, "with
the blessing of Father Theodore Hesburgh (the university's
president)," says Faust, "and the board of trustees."
Following his resignation from Notre Dame, Faust coached at
Akron, in nine seasons guiding the Zips from Division I-AA to
Division I-A and to a 43-53-3 record. In 1994 he was reassigned
to work as an assistant vice president of public affairs and
development, preaching Akron's and worldly virtues to high school
students across the Midwest before retiring last June. Today,
Faust, 65, lives in Akron with his wife of 36 years, Marlene--they
have three children and two granddaughters--and travels the U.S.
as a motivational speaker. "People listen to me because I'm not
all about success," he says. "They'll listen to someone who
failed because most people fail at something in life."
Faust says Notre Dame is still his "first love." He attended the
first four Irish home games last fall, and two years ago coach
Bob Davie asked him to address the team at spring practice. "I
didn't get the job done here," a teary-eyed Faust told the
players. "Don't say that to yourself when you leave here. You
have four or five years at Notre Dame. Don't ever say that you
didn't get the job done."
February 12, 2001
"People will listen to someone who failed," he says, "because
most people fail at something."