From 1981 to 1985, Coach Gerry Faust led one of the most fabled teams in college football through one of their most mediocre eras in history.
The Ohio-born coach, legendary for his high school coaching career, was replaced by Lou Holtz, who went on to lead the Notre Dame Fighting Irish back to greatness. While many would harbor resentment or regret at such a tenuous stint in the spotlight, Faust says that he has used the experience to strengthen his faith in God and teach other Catholics about the art of perseverance.
Coach Faust told David Hartline of the Catholic Report, that when things didn’t go quite as planned at Notre Dame, he "accepted it as God’s will."
"I felt I had let the kids down", he said, and "tried to figure the whole thing out. Perhaps Our Lord Jesus or the Blessed Mother wanted me to speak to others about life experiences like I do now… I know that I have been richly blessed and I love that university. I go to South Bend often and I just loved being able to work with everyone, whether it was at Moeller, Notre Dame or Akron."
Faust spoke to Hartline while traveling through Ohio, speaking to various Catholic groups in the area.
In 1985, Faust’s last year as coach, the Miami Hurricanes, as of to add insult to injury, ran up the score of the final game of the season 58-7 at Orange Bowl Stadium--something Hartline pointed out, would have made many coaches "go ballistic."
Asked whether he was bitter at then Miami coach Jimmy Johnson, Faust said, "I never judge a person, the Lord does that. I do remember that as I was about to go on to the field after the Miami loss and a priest came up to me and said don’t shake hands with that guy. I shook Jimmy Johnson’s hand and left it at that."
Talking about life nowadays, since finishing his coaching career at the University of Akron, Faust says that "My faith and family are the two most important things to me."
"God has blessed me so much," he said, "…I feel like I have got to give something back by speaking to Church groups, especially Catholic men’s conferences. I speak about 150 times a year. I feel I get more out of those conferences than those in attendance."
"I learn so much from the speakers and those who came to hear us," he recalled. " I look at all the troubles in the world and it seems, in my life, so many dreams became a possibility."
"My dreams may not have turned out like I wanted them to," says Faust, "but I have been so blessed…as Catholics we have so many special gifts. Unfortunately, not everyone takes advantage of all these blessings, like the presence of Our Lord in the daily Mass, the renewal that comes with confession, the intercession of the Blessed Mother and prayers like the rosary."
"I just want to pay back by telling others about all of these great gifts of our faith."