Notre Dame has gone from the Devine to the Faustian. Gerry Faust, that is, a high school football coach from Cincinnati who has been named the successor to Dan Devine.
They may know him in Cincinnati and, perhaps, even as far away as South Bend, but to the rest of the country, he is still "Gerry who?"
Who is he? Well, said a voice in the football office at Notre Dame, "he calls reporters 'sir'."
If Faust, 45, can do for the Irish what he has done in his 18 years as coach of Cincinatti's Moeller preparatory school, a Catholic boys institution where he compiled a record of 174-17-2, they'll soon be calling him Sir Faust. If he doesn't, they'll soon be calling him the devil.
How did he get the job? Simple. He applied. Sent a letter and a resume three or four years ago. "I told them if an opening ever occurred in the future, I'd be interested in the job," Faust said. "Since then, I've talked to them off and on. I've known for a long time that I've had a good shot at it."
Or, at least since Nov. 9, when he was interviewed for the only job he has ever wanted other than the one he has had. He has been offered other college jobs, but turned them down flat. "Ever since the fifth grade, riding my bike back from football practice, I sang the Notre Dame fight song," he said at a news conference in South Bend Yesterday. "I never got to play here, but I always followed Notre Dame football."
Faust went to the University of Dayton, where he was a quarterback. "That's why I didn't go to Notre Dame -- because I wasn't good enough to play football here," he said.
The question, of course, is whether a high school coach is good enough for the Irish, who went to the pros last time they looked for a head coach. Well, Faust isn't just any high school coach and Moeller's isn't just any high school football program. At Moeller, Faust had 18 assistant coaches, 15 full time, as well as 25 student managers. There have been 15 Moeller players who have played for Notre Dame, including six on the current Irish roster.
"A lot of people went to bat for me," Faust said. "So did the kids from Moeller who are up there now."
Now it is his turn to go to bat for those he left behind. While driving to South Bend Monday, the day after Moeller won its fifth Ohio state high school championship in the last six years, Faust stopped and called three of his players. "I called three young men on my team and said if the grades are good enough, I'd like to offer them scholarships to play at Notre Dame," Faust said.
Three of his players -- fullback Mark Brooks, offensive tackle Doug Williams and linebacker Mike Larkin -- have been heavily recruited. Faust, who had a rule against college recruiters contacting his players during the high school season, said he did not try to recruit any of his players for Notre Dame, either. "I'm proud of myself," he said.
Sure, he has some trepidations about making the move up (the players will be older than the ones he is accustomed to) but mostly he sees the similarities between Notre Dame and Moeller, both Catholic schools with an emphasis on academics as well as athletics. Those are important considerations to Faust, a deeply religious man who is also known as a strict disciplinarian.
Faust's idol is his father, the best football coach he says he has ever seen.
He probably believes in winning one for the Gipper, too.