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Profiles In Badassery: Froncie Gutman

With no game this week (and thus no tailgating post from John and Keith) I figured it was a good time to do a reader submission for the usual Profile in Badassery. Fred Bechtold contacted me a few weeks ago with a nomination for Froncie Gutman, a former Purdue quarterback and current ophthalmologist in the city of Cleveland. Cleveland can always use good news in the world of sports (even though I laugh at the idea of a sad little 63 year World Series drought since I am a Cubs fan). Judging by the way their fans acted on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium they now own the City of Indianapolis, so I might as well give Cleveland its due.

Time at Purdue

When you think of the Cradle of Quarterbacks Froncie Gutman doesn't exactly come to the forefront. Usually is Brees, Griese, Orton, Phipps, Herrmann, etc. With as extensive of knowledge of Purdue football as I have, I admit I had no idea who Froncie Gutman was before I started writing this. Thank goodness the Big Ten was kind enough to provide me with a media guide at Media days back in July.

I had to look it up, but Gutman was a quarterback at Purdue for three seasons from 1952-54. This wasn't a golden era of Purdue football, but the Boilers went 11-13-3 in his three years. His best season came in 1954 when he led Purdue to a 5-3-1 record. One of those victories was a 27-14 over Notre Dame in South Bend. The Fighting Irish went on to finish 9-1 that season. They were the preseason #1 team for the second straight year, but Purdue's upset denied them the National Championship and gave it instead to Ohio State and UCLA, who share the title.  

Purdue was rated 19th at the time, and the defeat of the Irish moved us all the way to #5 in the poll. We couldn't capitalize on the momentum, as we tied Duke the following week, then fell 20-6 to Wisconsin to lose our #5 ranking. Gee, that doesn't sound familiar at all. Gutman did help Purdue recover from a 2-7 record the previous season.

During his time at Purdue Gutman would be twice named as an Academic All-Big Ten selection. That would come in handy later in his career.


You probably can't tell by the pictures, but I am practically blind without my contacts. My right eye is a -4.5 with slight astigmatism. My left, however, is an astounding  -8.00 with severe astigmatism, possibly because I was nailed in the eye with a line drive at baseball practice when I was ten years old. This means I have a real difficult prescription to figure out and match when it comes to contacts, one that I have had to suffer banter from two very talent IU grads for decades. Thankfully, they are both good men and as bad as my vision is, I'll gladly let them banter if it means I can see.

I'm willing to drive back to Kokomo to see a competent ophthalmologist after a bad experience here in Indianapolis, but for over 50 years Gutman has been dominating the field in northeast Ohio. He attended medical school at the University of Michigan, graduating in 1960. He later completed a fellowship at the University of Miami in 1965, thus making him a Boilermaker and a Hurricane, something very dear to me.

Gutman now works for the prestigious Cleveland Clinic Eye Institute, which leads the way in finding treatments for glaucoma and macular degeneration. Unfortunately, they have yet to create a cure for beer goggles, otherwise we might actually enjoy games officiated by Jim Burr during basketball season. The Eye Institute itself is best described as follows:

Opened in 1999, it is the newest and most state-of-the-art institute in the United States, and handles more than 140,000 patient visits per year, treating adults and children with all ophthalmic conditions, performing basic eye care and eye surgery. Thousands of international patients travel to receive treatment, including all types of eye surgery, at the institute every year. A large team of researchers is committed to making breakthroughs in retinal disease. Eye surgery - ranging from cataract surgery to macular surgery - is performed daily by our world-class staff.

Every aspect of this building was designed with patient needs in mind. Parking is easily accessible and valet parking is offered. The open, spacious lobby warmly greets patients and large-print signs help them find their way easily. Natural lighting throughout the building eases the strain on eyes that are dilated or otherwise uncomfortable. All nonsurgical patient visits start on the second floor, which features a centralized check-in desk and pagers to let patients know when it is their turn. When additional diagnostic tests are needed, a designated elevator takes patients directly from the examination area to the testing area. A separate waiting area for children has games and an aquarium to help keep them occupied.

The surgical facility is designed to have all preoperative testing in one location. The five operating rooms incorporate the latest equipment to perform eye surgery, like macular surgery and cataract surgery, safely and effectively. A special waiting area lets family members talk to the surgeon in a private setting after the eye surgery. When it is time for patients to go home, a nurse escorts them in a wheelchair to the special discharge area where a family member can drive right up to the door.

We salute you today, Dr. Gutman. You are a hero in Boilermaker football lore for denying the Irish a National Championship, but more importantly you have given back for over 50 years to people like me whom natural selection would have weeded out long ago if not for vision correction.