ATLANTA -- Gerry Faust, who says he wasn't ready for his five years of life in college football's fast lane at Notre Dame, is getting ready to take on the world again at the University of Akron.
"If I knew going into Notre Dame what I know now, I'd have been much better off," Faust said Tuesday during the American Football Coaches Association's annual convention. "I know the college scene now. I know how to handle things. At Notre Dame, I had to feel my way and I made a lot of mistakes that I'm not making now the second time around."
After a fabulous career at Cincinnati's Moeller High School, Faust was picked by Notre Dame to walk in the footsteps of Knute Rockne, Frank Leahy and Ara Parseghian. But the best he could do was a 30-26-1 record.
Faust saw the handwriting on the wall and Lou Holtz in the wings and stepped down. He wound up at Akron,, which went 7-4 in 1986 as a Division I-AA school despite its 26,000 students. The Zips moved up to Division I-A -- the same as Notre Dame -- last season and finished 4-7.
"It was a very difficult adjustment period for me in the aspect of being somewhere where they're at the top of collegiate football, then going to a place that's trying to build toward that," Faust said.
With teams like Auburn (in 1988), Tennessee and Florida on future schedules, Akron has dreams of grandeur. Faust doesn't think he's living in a dream world.
"They're very interested in putting a quality football program on the I-A level," he said. "They're willing to put forth the effort and there's a great support system from the president on down."
Faust is as upbeat as ever. He says there are enough independent schools in the East with which to develop long-term rivalries. He says Akron "just finished a brand new weight room that will be one of the best in the country" and is refurbishing the locker rooms.
He says the city is considering a convention center near the campus and he is trying to push for inclusion of an indoor football arena to replace the 35,000-seat Rubber Bowl.