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Notre Dame's proprietary alumni, including many people who have never been to Indiana, regard victory as the minimum goal. Probably this traces back to Rockne's "Rockette" shifts and one-on-one blocking schemes that made every play of the '20s a potential touchdown. To Irish fans, it seems a reasonable expectation. Winning too much in the '40s, Leahy was broken in the '50s by losing at all. After eleven storied years Parseghian quit in 1974, officially because his blood pressure was zooming, ostensibly because the University of Southern California came from 24 points behind to beat Notre Dame by 31. The truth is, if a score nudged him out, it was a 14-6 victory over Navy that so many of Parseghian's pen pals considered a crime against nature.
Dan Devine, that well-named but peculiar fellow whose era fell between Parseghian's and Faust's, won a national championship and two Cotton Bowls. But he lacked the style that this rumpled Cincinnati missionary, with his high-decibel enthusiasm and 174-17-2 prep record, had in spades. The faithful were ready to love Faust before they ever heard his wonderfully hoarse voice, more like Andy Devine's than Dan's, and impressions of Faust were hardly damaged by the news that he had been whistling the Notre Dame fight song since the age of ten. Besides, despite a devoutness at Moeller High that extended to leading sideline "Hail Marys," he had shown no qualms about grinding his Crusaders' boots into overmatched opponents' necks.
After Faust won his first college game against Louisiana State University, Notre Dame was instantly installed as the No. 1 team in the country. Athletic Director Gene Corrigan recalls "people seriously wondering if we would ever lose again." But against Michigan the following week the contrasts between high school and college football began to show, and soon Faust was found wanting even in the Pat O'Brien department. Once, in a burst of madness, an alumnus sprang onto the field at half time. The Irish were leading Michigan State by the unsatisfactory score of 11-0. "You're going to have to show more imagination than running off tackle," he collared and admonished Faust, who gathered him around the waist and said, "Come with me. It's O.K., come with me. I'd like you to talk to the team at half time."
Whatever the would-be Rockne told the players must have fallen short of "We're going inside 'em, we're going outside 'em, inside 'em, outside 'em," because the final score was 11-3. Thereafter the alumni kept to the grandstands, but Faust could hear them muttering. "It's a unique place," he says without detectable irony. "The support I've gotten has just been unbelievable. I love the place and I love the people." And, as long as he is definitely leaving, they are of a mind now to love him too. Immediately, a 25th Notre Dame football coach, Lou Holtz, was anointed, the hiring telegraphed by a suggestive escape clause in his University of Minnesota contract and the presence of a son on the Irish campus. Formerly of William and Mary, North Carolina State, the University of Arkansas and even the New York Jets, Holtz, 48, seems a little peripatetic for Notre Dame, but he certainly has the right humor for the job. "Everyone in Minnesota has blond hair and blue ears," Holtz has complained, but has he ever seen a leprechaun? --By Tom Callahan