November 03, 1980 12:00 PM

The University of Notre Dame doesn’t hire its football coaches through the want ads. Incumbent Dan Devine came from the NFL. His predecessor, Ara Parseghian, had been a major college coach before moving to South Bend, and the two men who wore the weighty mantle of Frank Leahy and Knute Rockne before that, Terry Brennan and Joe Kuharich, had been Notre Dame players. Now Devine has announced he’ll retire after this season, and there is informed speculation that he’ll be replaced by a high school coach. On the surface that sounds like assigning a scoutmaster to command the First Marine Division.

But the subject of the rumors is Gerry Faust, 45, of Cincinnati. Notre Dame’s athletics board chairman, the Rev. Edmund Joyce, won’t comment but a college official says, “Faust is the greatest high school coach in America.” His statistics are stunning. In 21 years at Cincinnati’s Moeller High, an all-boys parochial school with 1,010 students, Moeller has piled up a 169-172 record, with four state championships and eight undefeated seasons. The team has lost only one regular-season game since 1972. Equally impressive is the quality of the players he has sent on to college: Two starters on the current Notre Dame team graduated from Moeller, and Faust has developed 17 high school Ail-Americans.

His operation at Moeller isn’t exactly Little League: 14 full-time coaches and three part-timers help run his football program, which includes 210 boys. Faust also scores well as a banquet speaker. “I bet I logged 50,000 miles in the air alone last year,” he says. His message on the circuit? “I believe in discipline and excellence. When you incorporate a family attitude and all work together, it pays off.”

The son of a football coach, Faust was All-State playing under his dad at Dayton’s Chaminade High School, then started at quarterback at the University of Dayton. He says Notre Dame is the only school besides Moeller where he’d want to coach, and, far from being intimidated, he observes, “It’s like a governor or senator running for President,” except that the electorate is more eminent. “I don’t pray for the job,” says Faust. “I pray for whatever God thinks best.”

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