Another tale from the Clarkives

By: Len Clark, PhD

I read the name in a Notre Dame Football Media Guide as a youngster.  

The year escapes me, but I would pour over every name and statistic in the guide as I waited patiently for the next Notre Dame football game.

I miss those days – days when they used to print a media guide.

The name in the media guide, under monogram winners, read – “1967 LB Tom Reynolds, Ogden Dunes, IN – Portage”.

I didn’t know the name then.  You probably do,  if you followed Notre Dame football in the mid-2000s, but that’s another story.

A number of years later, another Portage player would have the opportunity to play for the Fighting Irish – Eric Jones (1989-1991) – and again, while pouring through the media guide, I came across the name – Tom Reynolds.

Being a Portage, IN native, I wondered about Tom’s story.  How did he get to Notre Dame?

Fast forward to 2012 and I am hosting “Gameday AM” on WSBT Radio-South Bend prior to Notre Dame football games.  Longtime host Bob Lux recommended me.

As I was preparing for the first show, I reached out to author Mark Hubbard.  Mark had just written his latest book, Undisputed: Notre Dame National Champions 1966 and I asked him to be on the show. 

I bought the book to research talking points.

On the opening page of the book, there it was – the story of Tom Reynolds and his journey to Notre Dame.

I called Mark and said, “I need to talk to you.”

We met for coffee and Mark gave me insight into the book and Tom Reynolds’ contact info.

I called Tom and introduced myself.  He said, “come to the Training Room this Saturday.”

The “Training Room” was the name of Tom’s garage and was located near campus and our broadcast location.  It had been turned into the ultimate Notre Dame “Man Cave” – complete with memorabilia from the 1966 national championship season.  It had a big screen TV and was THE gathering spot for former Notre Dame players, Heisman Trophy winners, celebrities, “friends of a friend” and, soon to be , a radio show host.

I showed up to the Training Room that game day morning with a Portage Indians sweatshirt as a gift.  People were grilling and milling about as I asked for Tom.  He welcomed me like a long lost friend and invited me into this exclusive club – sans the initiation.

The Training Room, during the magical season of 2012, would serve as a green room and lead generator for guests for Game Day AM .  Many of those played on the ’66 national championship team.  Nick Eddy, Bob Gladieux, etc.

The first time I met Nick Eddy he came to our broadcast location and said, “Are you Clark?  Tom says you’re a good guy.”

I wish my co-host Tim Graul would have transcribed the stories told on the show that season.

As I said, it was a magical season and hosting the show was a career highlight – but there was a downside.  

Programs that air on broadcast stations are designed to gain the largest possible listening audience.  The higher the ratings, the more a station can charge for advertising.

I received feedback that the show was too heavy on guests from the 1966 and 1973 national championship teams.  Management wanted former players who had graduated recently, or in the past 10 years, to appeal to a younger audience.

We complied.

I understood what they meant, but I also envisioned the show to be done in the spirit of Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club – a live, interactive, variety radio show (There is a Notre Dame connection).  I also believed that interviewing players from the ‘60s was a way to introduce them to a younger generation of Notre Dame fans.

This really hit home for me after a show on one particular game day.

The ’66 team was being honored during the game so, after the show, I walked to the stadium with Nick Eddy.  It struck me that no one recognized him until he was on the field with his teammates.  No one stopped to ask for his autograph or ask to take a picture.

That bothered me.

Tom Reynolds told me to think of it this way, “it would be the equivalent of a fan in my day trying to recognize one from 1921 team.”

I got his point.

The next season I was looking forward to doing the show, but had not heard back from the station.  We had agreed that I would host the show as long as I had an interest.  A few days later, and after leaving another message and phone call, I received an email stating the station was going to go in another direction.

That’s broadcasting.  It’s a business.

Game day would not be the same.

Tom Reynolds sold the Training Room a couple of years later and a new game day, well, post-game, tradition was started by a couple of mutual friends I made through Tom. 

After games I now go over to share and hear the old stories, but with a new generation of Notre Dame fans.

Go Irish beat the Yellow Jackets.

By Phil Houk

For 25 years, bringing you the glory of Notre Dame football.

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