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The day Bob Davie invited Ellwood City’s Al Campman into the Notre Dame huddle


Something happened to me Wednesday on a conference with New Mexico coach Bob Davie that was pleasing, unexpected and helpful all at the same time.
In this business, that’s a trifecta you don’t treat lightly.
While Davie, the Moon High School graduate who brings his Lobos to Heinz Field on Saturday to play Pitt, was chatting with the crew assigned to telecast the game (Channel 4, here in Pittsburgh; 95 markets nationwide via the ACC Network), I listened respectfully to the conversation. At the end,  when it appeared the allotted time for the call had expired, I butted in to introduce myself.
At that point, Davie said, “Give me your number. I’ll call you.”
I’ve been on a lot of conference calls, but never one that ended in the gem of all sports journalistic gems — the one-on-one interview.
I had a nice chat with Davie, who was a roommate at Youngstown State with former Ellwood City basketball coach Al Campman.
“I remember those nights in the dorm,” Davie said. “Al couldn’t sleep unless he had this fan running that sounded like a damn helicopter.”
My story on Davie is on Page C19 of today’s Trib sports tabloid, but there was one Davie story that Campman mentioned that I didn’t have room to relate, so I’ll share it here.
When Davie was the head coach at Notre Dame, he invited Campman and three of his buddies, Mark Stanley, Jim Thompson and Brad Ovial, to the Irish’s spring game. Prior to the game, Davie spoke to the guys, but had other commitments and left after a brief hello.
Campman understood, of course, but he was a bit disappointed that Davie couldn’t spend more time with them.
“When you are the head coach, every minute of the day, you are doing something,” said Campman,  who was the point guard on Farrell coach Eddie McCluskey’s final PIAA championship team in 1972.
During the game, an announcement came over the public address system for Campman to report to the press box. Campman thought something had happened at home, so he was deeply concerned as quickly left his seat and headed upstairs. But as he crossed the back of the end zone to get to the elevator, Davie stopped him and said, “I want you on the field for the game.”
Campman was thrilled — “He knows I’m  a football coach at heart; I just happen to coach basketball.” — and even got as close as the Notre Dame huddle.
Perhaps Davie was trying to pay back Campman for the time when he came to one of Campman’s football games when he was coaching at Trinity High School in Garfield Heights, Ohio.
“It was pouring down rain and here comes a runner right at him,” Campman said. “Knocked him head over heels and he’s drenched. He hurt his leg and was even limping around.”
Campman steered clear of any Notre Dame runners that day, and the two men — whose Youngstown teammates included NFL quarterbacks Ron Jaworski and Cliff Stoudt  — remain close friends. Davie was in the stands at the Fitzgerald Field House when Campman’s Ellwood City basketball team lost to Beaver Falls in the WPIAL championship in 1985.
“I was a little more straight shooter than him,” Campman said of their days at YSU. “Bob liked to go have a little more fun than me, but when it came down to hard work, we both did the same thing.”



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