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Tom Doyle: From Golden Dome to Ivied Walls


I always hated Catholic schools. In athletics, they always seemed to be so much better than us public schoolers. Take football; I mean Jackson High might as well have stayed inside the locker room and popped sits for 48 minutes than bother showing its colors on the same Tupper Field as the Marian Knights. Granted, Catholics had a rich tradition being from South Bend-Notre Dame-Golden Dome-Fightin' Irish-Fraternal Order of Polish Falcons, Nest No. 9 country; but still, that can't be the only reason.

Take Tom Doyle for instance, the epitome of this Aryan master race. I mean jean, he lived on Kaute Roskne Drive in Mishawaka while I lived on Robinhood Lane, C'mos, I mean it's no wonder my high school got Glitzkredged on the gridiron.

And this didn't just start in high school either. The parochial underground organization tapped promising snowball throwers around Revere Park for a place of importance in their youth football movement in the fall. They lured the trusting ill' taters into their lair by dangling Notre Dame-Southern Cal tickets in front of the poor unsuspecting felias. I mean the movement knew all the methods of warfare in child psychology.

By no fault of his own. Doyle got caught up in this devilish scheme.

The son of a production manager in an electronics parts manufacturing firm in Mishawaka, Indiana, Doyle attended the powerhouse of elementary school football in the area--St. Joseph's of Mishawaka. Catholic elementary schools in the area were never allowed to tangle with public schools of the same grade level. The outcome would predictably turn the stomach of even the most blood thirsty grid fiend.

This was a time of learning, drilling and working to a precise fine edge the skills that would be displayed in full view of the public--in the high school arena. The coaches shaped, molded, tested, reshaped, and polished each part of its 11-piece precision watch in the eight years of elementary and junior high school ball. And when high school came and the parts came of age, watch out.

The master craftsman would wind up his 11-piece watch and for 48 minutes simply observe as it methodically ran to perfection. Adjustments or tuneups were unnecessary. The watchmaker could just sit back and witness the precise action and movement of the pieces and enjoy the warm glow that a sense of accomplishment brings.

And to it was for Tom Doyle when in entered Marian High School in September of 1987. Big, bad and brusing Bob Otolski was--and still in--the high school coach for the Knights. He graduated from Indiana Central and was somewhat of a standout as a guard there. He then did a brief four or five-month stint with the Washington Redskins as a specially team player before turning to coaching.

Otolski had his kitchen in pretty neat order in those days. When Doyle was a freshman, his rookie squad was 10-0, which neatly complimented the varsity's identical 10-0 record and eighth place rating in the final AP poll. Tom quarterbacked that freshman team but the next year he found himself sitting on the bench plucking splinters from his gold britches.

In fact, the next two seasons produced nothing better than a backup signal caller position behind Tom Creevy, a tall, strong quarterback, who now plays linebacker for none other then--you guessed it--Ara Paraseghian and the fightin' laprochans. Creevy directed the squad to a dismal 5-4-1 record in 1968 and an undefeated season which netted the Knights a third place ranking in the Heosier State at the end of the year.

With the graduation of Creevy, Doyle took ever the reins of the team in his senior year of 1970, and the results were more of the same for Otolski, the Knights of Marian, and the Catholic organization. Doyle led his squad to its second straight unblemished 10-0 record and a third-place rating in the polls.

There is one chapter in this expose on the Catholic movement that should be inserted here without delay. That has to do with the apart of basketball. Public school kids always figured that if there was one sport where the church was vulnerable in Indiana, it was basketball. Unfortunately, for the Jackson Tigers, this whole hypothesis went down the drain, so to speak, in the final game of the LaVille Sectional Tournament of the Indiana State Basketball Playoffs of 1969.

Doyle was on the lunch for the Knights that night, and I who on the floor for the Tigers. That in itself should give you a little insight into just how menial the task St. Marian had in staying the not-so-mighty Tiger that night of March 1. I had visions of State Basketball Title, front page picture in the South Bend Tribune, a fire engine ride through the streets of South Bend, a tale for future kids and grand kids, and a victory banquet.

The Catholic organization had its nights on a new area of investment--a championship which would show the public just how skillful and versatile the parochial movement could be. Sort of like the Mafin adding to its dry cleaning business a chain of laundramats.

The outcome was close but not that close. Doyle got to get up on the ladder and cut a piece of the net. I got a consoling pat on the back and a soft-toned "nice try".

The same was true in track. Doyle ran track for three years at Marian. His event was the 440-yard dash and he and his teammates naturally excelled.

Then Doyle left South Bend and came to Yale. "It was everything I wanted, both athletically and academically," he said yesterday.

And even if the team that he quarterbacks a loser tomorrow, he'll still have consolation in the fact that Otolski and Marian are still rolling back in the Bend. They finished 9-1 this year and fourth in the State. Their only less was to St. Joseph's High of South Bend.

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