Harry Hiestand will coach Notre Dame's offensive line and also serve as the run game coordinator after spending the last 15 years at Illinois, the Chicago Bears and Tennessee.
Jan. 25, 2012
On coming to Notre Dame
"I've spent most of my coaching life in the Midwest and have always been aware of the University of Notre Dame. Everywhere I've been in the Midwest, there's such a great respect for this university and what it stands for. It's a special place that is really unique. I'm really happy to be part of it."
On his connection with former Notre Dame offensive line coach Joe Moore:
"I was coaching at the University of Cincinnati in 1990 and a good friend of mine, Ron Turner--who I had gotten to know--had coached with Joe Moore at Pittsburgh. I was talking about taking visits to go research football and learn about offensive line play. Ron said, `The best guy I know is at Notre Dame, that's Joe Moore and you've got to go up and see him.' So I came up here and met with Coach Moore and had a chance to visit with him. I was obviously taken right away by his knowledge of offensive line play, but probably most importantly his ability to relate to players and to get the best out of his players. I got to watch him coach, watch practice, and sit with him. Over the years we maintained contact. When he retired he would come out and spend a week with us at Illinois, because, again, Ron Turner was the head coach, Joe had a relationship with Ron, and obviously he knew that I was really interested in what he was teaching. So he came out and spent time talking football, talking through coaching, philosophy, life, the whole thing. He had a tremendous impact on me. Joe was one of those people who you either gravitated to him or not--and there was no in between. I was one of those who gravitated to him, and he taught me a lot about offensive line play. Most of the things I teach have been influenced by what Joe taught. Once that started and we spent that much time together, then I became very close with him as he went back and was coaching high school. He and his wife, Fran, and his family--I was able to be a part of him up until his death."
On the factors that went into his decision to come to Notre Dame:
"Notre Dame has always been a place that interested me from the standpoint of the total experience here for the student-athlete and for the people that coached here. The enthusiasm for Notre Dame stands out, but the students who come here sign up for something a little more than some other universities from the academic standpoint. How they live in dorms with other students and how that makes them a bigger part of the student body always interested me.
Joe Moore also told me if I ever had the opportunity to coach here, I had to do it. When I got that first call asking about my interest in the position, Joe Moore's comment to me was the first thing that came to mind."
On his familiarity with Brian Kelly's offense and how his blocking schemes fit into Kelly's offense
"The fundamentals of line play are critical no matter what type of offensive system you are in. Blocking people is about leverage. Blocking people is about getting your helmet where it belongs and getting your pads below someone else's pads and knocking them off the ball. Being fundamentally sound fits any system. We are going to work on being fundamentally sound. We are going to work on blocking people for the duration of the play.
"Coach Kelly's system is an exciting style of football. It is wide open, but also one where he likes to run the football and be a team where you have to defend both the run and pass across the whole field. The key in football, and it will never change, is blocking and tackling. When you are a good tackling team, you have a good defense, and when you are a good blocking team, you will have a good offense."
On his success of developing offensive lineman and making them NFL ready
"I think it is the fundamental approach to the game. We are going to constantly challenge our guys to be sound in technique and fundamentals. We are not going to be so consumed in scheme and who we are blocking, but rather how we are blocking them is always part of the equation. It is critical that they know what to do, how to do it and then do it in a tough, physical and aggressive way. We instill that by our drills. We instill it every day when you come into the building by doing it as hard as you can do it with focus and intensity. We are going to be a physically and mentally tough group, play in and play out, but that's going to be developed on a daily basis. It will always be part of what we do. It's not just going to be about, `You've got the five technique, you've got the nose guard.' Rather, it is how you got the five and how you got the nose guard. It is where you are putting your pads. It's getting underneath people, running them off the football, staying after them and continually emphasizing that every day."
On what your experience from the NFL, Big 10 and SEC affords you at Notre Dame
"I've been on the one side in the college game when I've prepared players to reach their dream of making it to the NFL. I know what it takes to help guys get to that point and what the players are looking for from me in their coaching. I have also been on the other side in the NFL and had conversations with college scouts and the general managers about what they are looking for in college players. Having been on both sides of the fence will make me a better college coach at Notre Dame. The last item that should help is what I just wrapped up with my son who finished playing at Illinois State this past season. I went through the recruiting process with him and heard what coaches had to say to him and me as a parent of a recruit. I also lived through the good days and bad days my son had in college. I think that will help me as a recruiter and also in the relationships I'll form with our players on campus."
"It's a constant process and a pursuit of finding players that meet the standard Notre Dame has. It's critical for our success to identify players that value a Notre Dame education, want to compete at the highest level and want to be as good as they can be both on and off the field."
On his immediate plans
"Right now I'm looking to help in any way I can as we wrap up this recruiting cycle. I also look forward to meeting with our players. I look forward to talking with them to let them know that I'm here for them. We're going to begin this process of making them as good as they can be and also inform them we'll have open lines of communication. It's important that I try to develop relationships with all of our guys. Finally, once the coaches get off the road recruiting, I'll be able to jump into the offense with Coach Kelly and Coach (Chuck) Martin and figure out exactly where we'll be looking to go with the offense."