"The Mount," a small catholic college with approximately 2200 students on the west side of Cincinnati, is far from a major NCAA Division IA football program. Rather, it is a Division III school that plays in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference.
On the day of Coach Pont's passing, RedHawk Insider caught up with Eric Young, one of his former players at Mt. St. Joes to discuss what it was like to play for and know Coach Pont.
Young played for Coach Pont in the early to mid-1990s in the early days of the Mt. St. Joe football program. At that time the school had just transitioned from an all-girls school to a co-ed college. Today, the Mount's football program is a contender every year to reach the Division III playoffs. When Young played, the fledgling football program was struggling to compete.
Upon hearing of his former coach's passing, Young had this to say, "Sad to hear it. He coached a lot of people and touched a lot of lives." Young elaborated further, "I remember even when he was at the Mount he had a lot of former players from his days at IU and Miami calling him and touching base with players that he probably hadn't seen in 20 or 30 years. They were still close with him. It just says a lot about how his former players thought about him. The lives he touched."
Young met Coach Pont on his visit to the school. Young said that he "had a lot of respect for him as a coach. His track record spoke for itself." All of Young's teammates felt the same way. Young added, "Everybody played hard for him. Everyone respected him and appreciated him."
Although Coach Pont was a living legend, he never treated the Mount's players any less because they were not Division I players. In fact, Pont was very modest about his own prior accomplishments. Young said he never talked about his glory days at Miami, the Big Ten, or even his trip to the Rose Bowl.
When asked about what he remembers most about Coach Pont, Young gave a surprising answer with a smile. "He was about 64 years old at the time. He returned punts in practice and he was probably our most athletic punt returner."
As for Pont's coaching philosophy, Young stated, "He had a lot of passion for the game and he would look at it more as a teacher than a coach. Teaching the game to the players was more important than the Xs and Os or the tactics."
Young described Pont's legacy at Mt. St. Joes, "He took a school that had just been an all-girls school and built a nice football program out of scratch. He begged, borrowed, and pleaded for materials and equipment. He worked his butt off to get the thing off the ground." Young added that the perennial playoff team can be traced back to Pont's work in the early days. "He built the program. Anything they have is his legacy."
Finally, Eric Young had one other comment about Coach Pont. "He will be missed."
Coach John Pont (November 13, 1927 – July 1, 2008)