A Lesson in True Friendship

There are days that JTG has me up early on the road visiting JTG programs around the state and this morning is one of those times.  I’m heading to Pulaski to visit Giles County High School.  When days like this crop up I feel comfortable revisiting blog entries in my Dwyerwire blog from my News-2 days.  Some entries are as dated as bell bottoms but some are “evergreen”, a term used in the broadcast biz for those stories that don’t have to be aired immediately.  Fortunately, because I have the coolest parents in the world (both 85-years young and still living in my hometown of South Bend, Indiana), they continue to parent and here’s one of the many examples I’ll share with you.
Here’s the Dwyerwire blog entry from April 20th, 2010:

A Lesson in True Friendship

Gerry Faust lived out his dream but it didn’t go the way he wanted.
Actually, most of it did, except for the 26 losses.

His 5-year record at as Notre Dame football coach was 30-26-1.  While he had a winning record, the
perception of his time at ND is generally thought of as a failure.  “Nice guy, but in over his head” is the
perceived epitaph to describe his time at Notre Dame (1981-1985).  He was allowed to complete his five
year contract, then let go.

When Faust was elevated from a Cincinnati high school powerhouse to Fighting Irish Head Coach, he
was the toast of South Bend.  He talked to everyone, shook hands and kissed babies.  Members of the
Notre Dame community quickly gravitated to him, including my parents.  A week into his first season,
he had Notre Dame ranked number-one in the country.  That’s about as good as it got.  Sure, there was the upset
victory over Dan Marino and top-ranked Pitt.  A Liberty Bowl victory over Doug Flutie’s Boston
College team. But the results did not meet expectations.  “Oust Faust” bumper stickers where seen
around town.

Ten months removed from Notre Dame’s 58-7 thrashing at Miami on national TV and his resignation from ND, Gerry Faust resumed
college coaching.

The University of Akron hired Faust.  I’m privileged to have been at Faust’s first game at Notre Dame
and first game at Akron.  So was my father. As far as I remember, the list from South Bend pretty much ends there.

I bring this up because among the greatest lessons my parents taught me is to be friends with people, not
because they are somebody and can do something for you, be friends because you simply want to be
there for that person through thick and thin and hope they return the favor.

Digger, Dad, Ara and Gerry (circa 1983)

When Faust first came to Notre Dame, everyone wanted a piece of him.  Everyone thought he was a great guy and better coach.  But when the wins and National Championships didn’t pile up, many of his “friends” piled on.  When it was clear that he was done after five seasons, his exit was as meek as his entrance was mighty.

See, it’s easy to be friends with a big time coach when things are going well, but the real test is whether that friendship can endure adversity (translation: losses and a variety of moves through the years).

Every few months I receive a copy of a letter that Coach Faust has sent to my parents.  The latest came just a few days ago.  It’s been 25 years since he and his family left South Bend, but my parents and the Gerry Faust continue to correspond.  I think that’s pretty cool.

My parents have a knack for befriending people who have had a few hard knocks.  Some self-inflicted. Some not.

As I reflect, some of their choices in friends are down right controversial if you knew some of the background.

So many people want to latch onto the next big thing.  But what happens when that next big thing stumbles?

Chances are, people like my parents are there when most others bail.

They don’t teach that in some classroom.  Editor’s note:  (Except perhaps, JTG!)

Thanks Mom and Dad for another great life lesson.

By |2017-02-22T22:23:49+00:00February 22nd, 2017|Life Lessons|Comments Off on A Lesson in True Friendship

About the Author:

Call it John Dwyer 2.0 After 29 years as a TV Broadcaster, Dwyer is President & CEO of Jobs for Tennessee Graduates (JTG). JTG, an affiliate of Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG), is a non-profit organization dedicated to stewarding at-risk high school students toward graduation with follow through toward post-secondary education and/or job opportunities. Associated with JAG since 1981, JTG consistently obtains a graduation rate above 90-percent with a full-time job rate at nearly 70-percent. The most vulnerable, socioeconomically challenged young men and women, graduate with self-esteem with the realization and skill set to achieve success after high school. Does it get much better than that? Dwyer, is a resident of the Nashville area since 1996. He was sports director and/or a news anchor at TV stations in Nashville, Jacksonville, Florida; Ft. Myers, FL and his hometown of South Bend, Indiana. He is a 10-time Mid-South Region Emmy Award winner, along with winning numerous other awards. He is also a former Heisman Trophy voter. John is a 1985 graduate of Butler University, where he majored in Radio/TV while minoring in journalism. An avid running (or “plodder” as he likes to call himself), Dwyer runs in Nashville’s annual marathon. (Current tally: 7 Full, 10 Half). He accomplished a goal, once thought out of reach, be qualifying and running in the Boston Marathon in 2009. Married to Lynley, Dwyer resides in East Nashville with his wife and dog Lola. Dwyer served on the Make-A-Wish Middle Tennessee board from 2006-2012, and was board chairman for three years.

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COVID-19 Update

JAG and JTG Statement in Response to COVID-19

 As we are all feeling, COVID-19 has shifted how the world operates in a way that is unprecedented for our generation, and Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) and Jobs for Tennessee Graduates (JTG), one of 39 JAG state affiliates, are no exception. The impact of the coronavirus and the immediate danger it presents has closed our education system, directly affecting students and their families. This is especially detrimental to JTG students, who often look to their JTG Specialists and classmates for steadiness and security in their lives.

We also recognize that our students and their families are disproportionately affected by the closure of restaurants, stores, bars, and other service-industry places of work. These jobs often provide the entry-level opportunities our students need to enter the workforce. A difficult environment is likely to continue for some time, so we are in the process to reposition our training and support to make the best case for our JTG students to be considered for employment.

At a time when we must social distance ourselves to protect each other, the thousands of JTG students we serve need us more than ever.  We are responding to and encouraged by the requests from many JTG Specialists to access online learning modules and platforms provided by JAG educational partners like the Skills to Succeed Academy, EverFi, and Tallo. We are excited to see the interest in the JAG Genius and the use of virtual connectivity and the online sense of community – something we all need in these times.

Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) and Jobs for Tennessee Graduates (JTG) recognize we need to modify the way we provide support and deliver competencies to our students during this time of uncertainty. In response to the way business and education are adapting (in real time) to COVID-19,  JAG National is establishing new protocols and processes to ensure full, virtual engagement with our young people to ensure they have the competencies they need to meet the very competitive job market ahead. That is why JAG is providing the immediate recommendations below that are of highest priority, which impact the day-to-day lives of our students and Specialists. Like our world right now, please know that these are in real-time and subject to change.


Moving forward, we will have ongoing recommendations that will be built into new practices that will serve as both short- and long-term solutions to continue JAG’s data-driven model. This will help us remain accountable to our students, our partners, funders, and each other.