When Notre Dame offered Gatewood a scholarship he almost said no because he didn't think he was good enough. Then he decided that even if he failed in football, he would get an excellent education. He said why not. Today he has a 3.3 average in sociology.
"I never thought I'd play," he says. "I've always been pretty insecure. I didn't know if I'd fit in. I guess I just have a low-key psyche. For a while after coming to Notre Dame it worried me, seeing all those guys jumping around, banging lockers. I wondered if something was wrong with me. Like I sleep the night before a game just like it was any other night. I never think about it until I get in front of the crowd. And then, man, something pops. Most guys get excited by the game. I get turned on by the people. The more the better. That's the way I play. It's a release valve."
If Dan Devine, the Missouri coach, had known that, he probably would have slammed the gates at Memorial Stadium. More than 64,000 people, the most to see a sporting event in Missouri, turned out and turned Gatewood on. Against the Tigers he caught eight passes for 123 yards and a touchdown. "If there is anybody better than Notre Dame I haven't seen them yet," said Devine, shaking his head. "What we needed was a break—something like Theismann going off to the boys' room."
Two nights before the game Theismann and his pretty fianc�e, Shari Brown, sat in The Wooden Keg in South Bend. After one bottle of Piper-Heidsieck had been thrown for a loss, a second was opened. Theismann had no more than a sip from the first, declined any from the second.
"Don't you want a few bubbles?" a waitress asked.
He grinned. "No, I'll get all my bubbles on Saturday."
"Oh," said the waitress, looking at Shari. "Are you getting married on Saturday?"
"Yeah," somebody said, "to a great big Tiger."
Late Saturday night, after the honeymoon, Theismann wrapped himself in a towel and rubbed an aching right elbow. "You know, this time I was really scared out there. More than ever before. For a long time I couldn't get going. We could get down there but we'd make a mistake. I just wasn't right."
Indeed, in the first half Notre Dame fumbled twice and Theismann threw two interceptions.