Jan. 21, 2012
On coming to Notre Dame
"We're excited to be part of this great university. I grew up in the Midwest around the Big Ten and Big 12. Much of my coaching background and all of my experience is generated from Midwest football and Notre Dame is legendary. We are really excited to associated with this great place."
On what factors led to his decision to take the Notre Dame job
"First off, we loved every minute we spent at Iowa State. I can't emphasize that enough. We've been there three times and loved everything about it - the direction of the program, the people, everything about it. But this was an opportunity to do something for my family that I just couldn't pass up. It was one of those opportunities that you get once in a lifetime."
On reuniting with assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Bob Diaco and co-defensive coordinator/cornerbacks coach Kerry Cooks
"Bob played for us at Iowa and then was my graduate assistant on defense. Kerry played for us and played for me directly in the secondary. He was then our GA at Kansas State when I was there. The great thing about Kerry and Bobby is I come in with a total understanding of the character of these two guys. They've grown since I knew them before. Their level of expertise is outstanding. They've ascended to the top of the coaching profession in the days we have been separated. I've actually used both of them as resources in my career in the last few years as well. Both of them have great ideas. Both of them have grown and matured and are outstanding coaches. The base fundamental of the character of those two guys is top shelf and that's what led me to want to be back with them again."
On what he'll provide our safeties with from a coaching perspective
On how he would describe his coaching style
"I've been all over the country doing this so I've faced all kinds of offenses. I've been associated with all sorts of different schemes. What Bob has developed here is very unique so I'll have to do some learning to get up to speed. But the basics of play in the secondary - specifically the safeties - there are some fundamentals that need to be paid attention to. I've been doing this for a long time so I have a lot of different perspectives and have seen it done many different ways. It will be interesting to see how that fits into the system that Bob has developed here.
"I would expect when you watch Kerry Cooks
and Bob Diaco
coach you might see a little bit of me in there. I'm a little bit older now. I've slowed down just a little bit from the days when I was young and didn't have as many miles on me as I do now. But the general approach I have taken over the years hasn't changed. I want to make sure every player who plays for me understands I am interested in his welfare first and foremost and will be there for him in every way and will be there for him for the rest of his life, whether I'm coaching him or not. Bob and Kerry are two examples of guys I've maintained relationships with over the years. When I get to talk to a former player is always the best part of my day. I try to stay in touch with those guys as much as I can. I try to be involved in their lives in any way that I can. That's the reason I'm coaching and that's the fun in it for me. The guys that grow up, become great men, and then I get a chance to feel good about the small piece of that I had."
His thoughts on recruiting
"Everybody says that recruiting is the lifeblood of a program, and it is. Recruiting to me is all about evaluation. It doesn't matter if you are at Notre Dame or a smaller school, evaluation isn't everything but it's a great portion of it. If you're the best salesman in the world and you're selling the wrong guy, you're going to lose. You have to be able to make good decisions. This is something I'm excited about with this group of guys. From the outside, it looks like they're making good decisions. You can look at the history of great college football programs that have fallen on hard times and it's always related to bad decisions made in recruiting. Every time, without exception. I've done it for a long time and I hope I can help them continue to make good decisions. Notre Dame is a great product and can compete with anybody. I'm excited about making sure we have the right people in the pool. The rest of it is hard work and being able to communicate. I've been all over the country in recruiting. I've recruited the East Coast and the West Coast, Florida, California, Texas and the Midwest. I feel comfortable with any assignment Coach Kelly gives me."
On his immediate plans
"I'll have a limited role in this year's recruiting class. This year's class is pretty much done and there's not much I could add to it. Recruiting is about relationships and trust. At this late of date I wouldn't be able to help in those areas too much. I'll get started on the next class ASAP. I've already started on it in my mind. I'll look to get to know our current players. I'm really interested in getting to know our guys as much as I possibly can. I want to listen to them talk about themselves. I'm really looking forward to that next week. Once we get back to it, I have to learn our terminology and how we operate on defense. I've got all the other things that go into a transition like this: learning the Notre Dame community and what makes this place so special. Everyone on the outside knows the obvious things. I'm really interested in learning the little things that make this place so special on the inside."