His victory wasn’t winning games. It was in winning hearts.
FAUST is a feature-length documentary film about the football life of one of the game’s most fiery, passionate coaches – Gerry Faust. He’s one of the most successful coaches in Ohio state high school football history. He established a perennial powerhouse in Cincinnati at Archbishop Moeller High, and he gave it all up to be the head coach at the University of Notre Dame.
At Moeller, Faust was ahead of his time. He instituted a student weightlifting program in an assistant coach’s basement, as well as made Catholic mass attendance and ballet lessons mandatory. Hail Marys took on an entirely new football context for Faust’s Moeller Holy Rollers. His program, referred to as “the praying-est team in football,” claimed seven unbeaten seasons, five state titles, and four legendary national prep titles under Faust.
In 1980, with zero experience at the collegiate level, he was asked to follow in the footsteps of Rockne and Parseghian to helm the Fighting Irish. After five unremarkable seasons as the coach of Notre Dame, he proved winning hearts, winning between God and the Devil, and making his players winners off the field was far more profound than winning on it. He came to represent the end of an era in college football, where today’s “win at all cost” mentality prevails.
The film arcs across a tightly crafted, three-act structure, charting Faust’s evolution as great football mind and inspirer of young men. It leads the viewer through his beginnings as the son of a football coach, to his dreams of playing for Notre Dame, to his dominating triumphs at Moeller, to the gentlemen’s handshake with Father Joyce that cemented his career in South Bend and the humbling postgame handshake with Jimmy Johnson after a crushing loss in 1985 that ended it.
Blended with this biographical narrative are moments with Gerry Faust artfully captured along the 2020 football calendar in Cincinnati and South Bend. He reflects on and answers the many questions that still linger about his football life - his fears, his joys, his regrets, his passionate and at times mercurial coaching persona, the controversial decisions he made throughout his life, the mark he left on the game of football, and the mark it left on him. Intimate, candid conversations with Faust, as well as emotional trips back to Moeller and Notre Dame, guide an introspective narrative as he retraces his coaching steps. Former players support the emotionality of his poignant look back, demonstrating how Faust’s mentorship far transcended the game.
The film explores Faust’s success under the Friday night lights in Cincinnati, his struggles in South Bend, and how the gridiron – his daily bread – made faith and football one. But more than chasing the dream of coaching the Fighting Irish, more than the record books he wrote at Moeller, the film reveals the soul of one of the most captivating men in football history. It looks at the game beyond wins and losses to uncover the true measure of a man.