Every year around this time I think back to the Wednesday afternoon of Dec. 31, 1980. Numerous big time college football coaches were venturing into our region due to the senior status of four outstanding line prospects who were yet to announce their choices. This later timing was customary back then.
Craig “Rosey” Greer of Sidney, the Hammerstein twins from Wapakoneta, and Jim Lachey of St. Henry could all be seen in the space of one or two days. One coach who didn’t land any of the foursome came to Sidney to visit Greer on that cold and clear day. I’d arranged with Sidney head coach Jim Lippincott to do a telephone interview from the Greer residence.
Former Cincinnati Moeller mentor Gerry Faust had just guided the Crusaders to another state title prior to accepting the Notre Dame job while his soon-to-be predecessor, Dan Devine, was preparing his final Irish squad for the Sugar Bowl the next night in New Orleans. Lippincott was to have Faust call me during the window of 2-3pm. I had the reel-to-reel tape ready to roll at the local radio station.
Lippincott called me just before 3 p.m. and said Faust would be with me momentarily. The five minutes I had to wait were memorable to say the least. I could hear the new coach extolling the virtues of playing football and getting an education in South Bend, Indiana. I was impressed to the degree of motivation with what I heard. I was pumped.
Gerry finally got on the line and said he was sorry I had to wait. I responded that I’d heard his “pitch” and would be glad to attend Notre Dame should Greer decline. He seemed to like that. We began the interview and I loved what I heard over about eight minutes from the man who was now in his proverbial dream job. Faust embraced everything about the “Golden Dome” of college football, raved about his coaching staff, and revealed that his former fellow high school coaches were warmly welcoming his recruiting overtures. NCAA rules prohibited any comment about the unsigned players he was pursuing.
Our time passed and Faust headed to Wapakoneta and St. Henry before returning home to Cincinnati where his family remained until the end of the school year. I went to a party that night in Coldwater and took a cassette tape to validate what I’d be talking about. I was excited.
In the end, both Hammersteins went to Michigan, Lachey to Ohio State, and Greer to Tennessee. Lachey advanced the farthest of the group as he ascended through an All-American Buckeye experience to all-time accolades as an offensive left tackle in the National Football League, most notably with the Washington Redskins.
My interaction with Dayton native Gerry Faust caused me to root for him for the remainder of his coaching career which concluded with an undistinguished stop at Akron. Both sides honored his five year deal at Notre Dame but they then mutually parted company. To this day he’s a beloved figure when visiting the South Bend campus. I understand fully.
Next week: Fun with fund raisers in Fort Loramie and Versailles.
Sports Extra appears each Friday. Dave Ross has been involved in local sports media since 1975.