Outlined against a blue-white metal halide September sky—surely the damnedest backdrop ever for a Notre Dame football game—Faust raved again. In classic literature Faust is a madman; in real life, well, no one has gone quite that far in describing Gerry Faust. But at this particular moment the 47-year-old Notre Dame coach was, certifiably, a mad man, as in angry—ranting and railing, stomping up and down the sidelines, eager to have at the official who had just bestowed what Faust considered the gift of a pass interference call upon Michigan. Now, with only a little more than two minutes remaining, the Wolverines, behind 23-17, were on Notre Dame's 35-yard line and driving for a touchdown and victory. "I didn't know what to think," said Faust.
He might have looked for solace out beyond the north end of Notre Dame Stadium—the way Ara always could on football Saturday afternoons in South Bend—to the wall of Memorial Library. But Musco Mobile Lighting, Ltd., which had illuminated Notre Dame Stadium to the extent that it seemed to be the climactic scene in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, hadn't trained its Klieg lights upon the giant TOUCHDOWN JESUS mosaic looming somewhere out there in the dark. "I prayed anyway," said Faust.
Which may or may not have had something to do with the fact that three plays later Michigan Quarterback Steve Smith completed a pass to Split End Vincent Bean on the Irish 30, only to have Irish Free Safety Dave Duerson strip the ball from Bean's grasp. Thus Notre Dame preserved its rightful victory and Faust was free to leap and skip and dance and pummel the air like a high school coach in celebration of his greatest win since—well, since Faust's Moeller High School team beat Massillon in 1980 to give him his seventh undefeated season in 18 years as the Cincinnati school's head coach.
Faust was so keyed up that his postgame words flew out of his mouth like blasts from an air horn:
"Gosh almighty that was a thriller!"
"Oh didn't our young men play fantastically!"
"I don't think we could have done anything better than we did tonight!"
"I'm so happy for the kids, the players, the alumni, all the fans and the University of Notre Dame!"
And, he might have added, for Faust, who no longer needed to worry that his second season at Notre Dame would pick up where his first left off. There were critics, plenty of them, who, after Faust's miserable 5-6 record in his inaugural season at South Bend, felt that his rah-rah style was something that had gone out with leather helmets. "Oust Faust" and "Send The Holy Roller Back To Moeller" were the phrases heard in South Bend over the winter. And there was an uneasy quiet in town last week because no one, not the fans, not the students, not the players, not Faust himself, knew how the 1982 Irish would react to the changes he made in the off-season. Which included hiring Carl Selmer, a former Miami head coach and an assistant at Nebraska for 11 years, as offensive line coach and Ron Hudson, a former UCLA assistant, as quarterback and receivers coach, and changing his own style from an on-the-field practice coach to one who watches his minions from the remoteness of a tower. But everyone did know the answer would be apparent to the whole world on Saturday night. When the game was over, no anti-Faustian comments were to be heard.
It was a vindication of the most glorious kind for Faust, beating a Michigan team thought by its coach, Bo Schembechler, to be capable of winning the national championship. Moreover, it was Michigan that had given Faust his baptismal beating a year ago, and the Irish never seemed to get on track after that. "There was so much talk before last year and we didn't back it up," said Notre Dame senior Tight End Tony Hunter, who would catch seven of Quarterback Blair Kiel's 15 completions (out of 22 attempts) for 76 yards. "It was a nightmare that started when Michigan whipped us 25-7 when we were ranked Number One and ended when we were embarrassed by Miami while losing 37-15 on national TV. We decided this year to keep our mouths shut."