Charlie Bauman, assured of immortality in the galaxy of sports trivia, is chagrined.
Fame can be a burden, more so for Bauman, who gained worldwide attention by absorbing the marshmallow blows of a fighting 65-year-old he once idolized.
For those who don't read Time, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated or newspapers, don't watch television and don't talk to anyone who does, Bauman bears introducing. He is a mildmannered reserve middle guard for Clemson who, in the Gator Bowl, made his first collegiate interception, returning it out of bounds.
There, an angered Woody Hayes punched him in the neck and in the face mask, and the next day Hayes was fired as coach at Ohio State after 28 stormy years.
The Hayes shot heard around the world did not even hurt.
"The interception was the only thing I thought about," said Bauman, sitting in a lounge of his dormitory, giving his umpteenth interview on the subject. "He grabbed my shoulder and hit me in the neck, and I wasn't even sure I got hit. I looked at him and saw another punch come at my face mask.
"I was so happy about the interception I didn't even feel anything. From the films, it looked like a pretty good shot."
Bauman found out Hayes had been fired as the player was on the his way to a gift shop to buy a T-shirt. A Clemson assistant told him about it and said worriedly, "There are reporters all over the place looking for you."
Upon hearing the news, "a chill," he said, "went through my body."
Bauman left Florida, heading home for suburban Runnemede in South Jersey, and when he alighted from the plane in Philadelphia, was greeted by a television camera crew.
"I couldn't believe it," said Bauman. "I knew it was going to be hell from then on.
"They had me on television for seven days straight. People have told me they read about me in Japan and Germany. I've gotten letters; all good letters. Johnny Carson talked about me. I guess he just needs something to talk about.
"Everybody says to me, 'You're famous.' Everybody asks me to talk about it. What can I say? It was one of those things. It (the incident) didn't bother me a bit. It doesn't bother me now. I'm not mad at all. I haven't lost any sleep over it.
"If they forgot about me, it wouldn't bother me."
Bauman was forgettable enough before the Gator Bowl.The sophomore has never started a college game and had never intercepted a pass, "except maybe in practice." This is clearly the biggest thing to happen to him since he was selected on the all-South Jersey team in high school.
Bauman wishes more attention would be paid to his team's 17-15 victory over Ohio State, or, if the media dwells on him, to his interception, which killed Ohio State's final rally.
But yesterday the Woody-Charlie series was revived by a report that Hayes had not personally apologized to Bauman and had no intention of doing so. Bauman said that if Hayes did write him an apology, "I'd frame it.
"Or, if he called me on the phone, I'd try to keep him on the line a while, just to talk.
"He's done a lot for me, just because of the way I idolized his teams. I never saw a college game until I came to Clemson, but I saw Ohio State on TV, and I idolized how big his players were. It gave me incentive.
"I didn't want to be the player he hit, the player involved in his getting dismissed. After the series of things he'd done, hitting reporters, well... I don't want to say I think he should be fired.
"I think something like that on national television is not good for the viewers, especially for the young kids.Young kids idolize coaches and athletes. I used to watch him. He was just great. A great coach."
Bauman's roommate-teammate Jim Speros of Potomac, Md., regards the whole incident as "the craziest thing I ever saw." He said Bauman "has shown a lot of class in the way he's handled this.
"It's a shame to see this happen to Woody, because now people will remember that instead of all the good things he's done," said Speros. "They'll remember him as the man who hit that kid."
Bauman only hopes he won't be long remembered as the kid who was hit by that man.