The three captains — quarterback Dayne Crist, left tackle Tanner Hawkinson and pass-rusher Toben Opurum — also happen to rank among the most talented guys on the Kansas University football team, but it doesn’t always work that way.
“One of my college roommates was a kid named Terry Eurick, and he was a back-up running back our senior year — and a captain,” KU coach Charlie Weis remembered.
I distinctly remembered Eurick gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated, so I decided to fact-check Weis by phoning Eurick at his home in Michigan.
“I backed up Jerome Havens and Vagas Ferguson,” Eurick confirmed.
The two superstars each ran for 100 yards in Notre Dame’s national-title-clinching 1978 Cotton Bowl, a 38-10 triumph against Texas in a game Eurick carried the ball four times and scored two touchdowns.
Eurick played for a Michigan high school, Saginaw Arthur Hill, that outscored its opponents, 433-0, his senior year. The unlikelihood of him making the cover of SI doesn’t compare to the shock value of what it took for Joe Montana, one of the top few NFL quarterbacks of all-time, to start at ND.
“To give you an honest story because he was one of my boys since freshman year of college, did you know our senior year he was the third-string quarterback? Rusty Lisch was first, Gary Forystek was second, Joe Montana was third,” Weis said. “That’s true. Our fourth year together, he was third-string quarterback to start off the year.”
In the third game, against Purdue, the speedy Lisch threw multiple interceptions and was pulled in favor of the strong-armed Forystek, who moved the team down the field and suffered a broken collarbone and other injuries. Lisch, Weis remembered, came back in, and threw another pick. That’s when Montana took the job and never gave it back.
So how is it that Weis knew the football players well enough to call Montana “one of my boys”?
“Sure, Charlie knew Joe,” Eurick said. “Charlie virtually knew all the guys, at least all the ones who lived in my hall. He played on the softball team senior year that won the championship. He was always playing basketball. He was always around the guys. He would go up to people and just talk to them. Charlie was never shy.”
Never shy to express an opinion, either.
“Oh, I was bad-mouthing the coaches left and right (for not playing Montana),” Weis said. “I was sitting there saying, ‘What are they thinking?’ Yeah, I was one of those cynics. Pretty good at it, too. So when they’re hammering me, that’s old news.”
But don’t bother telling Weis that Corpus Christi pastor Father Mick Mulvany, an ND fan, wears some of his old gear, left behind in a box at the ND football offices and sent to him by an assistant coach. Weis doesn’t want to hear it. Notre Dame fired him, remember?