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"I'm not worried," Faust said last week, offering a rare peek behind his what-me-have-a-problem? countenance. "I can get a job anywhere."
Ah, but Faust has betrayed a little worry lately. Last week, in fact, he was acting like a man trying to avoid Western Union. Anything he could find to throw was worth throwing. Liberally and uncharacteristically, Faust spread blame for the current Irish stew everywhere. However, who could blame him? Notre Dame's subway alumni have been at their Bernhard Goetz best for five years when it comes to Faust, and here was Faust's chance to speak for the defense—his own:
•The Redshirt Theory. "Only Duke and Notre Dame [and the service academies] don't redshirt," he said. "That means, on the average, our kids are a year younger than every other team's."
•The Nobody Understands Theory. Faust lamented that the public refuses to accept the age of parity. Said Faust, "Any team can win on any Saturday." Concurred Paterno, "There aren't any more dynasties. There aren't going to be any more Leahys or Wilkinsons." The only problem with the parity theory is that it's hard convincing Rice that recruiting equality has arrived. Notre Dame's current cavalcade of 30 Parade high school All-Americas doesn't help, either.
•The Luck (All Bad) of the Irish Theory. From fumbles ("How many teams have had a guy [Chris Smith] get the ball kicked out of his hands twice in a game [South Carolina in '84] by his own linemen?" Faust asked) to the blocked field goal returned for the winning Air Force touchdown ("It went sideways right into a guy's hands!") to an alleged whistle from the Purdue stands that he says made an Irish receiver stop his pass route on what was sure to be a touchdown to lousy meteorology for Penn State ("What are you gonna do with a day like this?").
It's true, Faust teams have been unlucky. They also have been, at times, ill-conceived, oddly coached and Keystone Kop chaotic. To wit:
•Against Navy this year, the Irish had to call timeout because they had 16 men on the field. Their previous record of 14 had been set a month earlier at Air Force.
•In the final seconds of the first half against Air Force, the Irish sideline couldn't decide whether to punt, try for a touchdown or kick a field goal. As the seconds ticked, no play was called, and Notre Dame had no timeouts left. Suddenly, placekicker John Carney ran madly in to try a 59-yard field goal against the wind. It missed badly.
•Twelve players on the field against Purdue kept a Boilermaker touchdown drive alive.
•Only once in 14 games has a Faust team come from behind at the half to win. Penn State has rallied for victory six times this season alone.