Jan. 28, 2017
This is an exclusive interview with new Notre Dame receiver coach Del Alexander who officially joined Brian Kelly’s staff Jan. 19. Alexander comes to South Bend after five seasons at Arizona State where he was on the same staff with first-year Irish offensive coordinator Chip Long. Alexander previously spent five seasons at Wisconsin, two years at San Diego, two seasons at Oregon State and four years at UNLV—coaching receivers at most of those spots. He served one season with the NFL San Diego Chargers. A player at USC (1993-94), he also was a graduate assistant with the Trojans.
I worked with (new Irish offensive coordinator) Chip Long at Arizona State. It was our first time together. We car-pooled together for four years—early mornings, late nights. We built a strong relationship. The separation came when they went to Memphis and I stayed at Arizona State. When he got the job here I sent him a message and said congratulations, and he sent me a message back and said, “Would you come to Notre Dame?”
I played here once when I was at USC—Johnnie Morton was on the team my first year and Keyshawn (Johnson) my second year—but we did not win here. There are a number of people that have come through here that I know—(former Irish assistant) Kerry Cooks was at Wisconsin with me, the Sanfords—Mike Sr. coached me at USC. Those guys I’ve known for quite a long time.
As far as coaching it starts at the beginning with (former USC coach) John Robinson and (former USC offensive coordinator, former Oregon State head coach and current Nebraska head coach) Mike Riley. Then it jumps to Bret Bielema at Wisconsin—that was my first taste of the snow and the Midwest. Then most recently Coach (Todd) Graham and the things he brought to Arizona State in terms of faith and character.
The fun in the growth and development is the time we invest in each other, being on the same page. Chip (Long) and I have been staying in a hotel together, and so we’ll spend a lot of time together. You are out of your comfort zone and so are they, but you understand change a little bit better than players and you’ve got to coach with confidence.
I have studied them (the Irish receivers), but not as much on film. I have watched each one of those guys that has played in games. You build a profile from an empty folder. It’s not a folder full of suggestions and what other people may think—but a folder with whatever they have to put in there that’s concrete. A transcript is fact. Playing stats are fact.
Our receivers are going to be physical, they’re going to be relentless. They are going to be competitive and they are going to be playmakers. They’ll line up quickly, they are going to play fast.
It’s a great atmosphere here. Some good memories here. It’s been so long since I played here. It’ll be great—the fans are great. It’s big-time college football.
We’re confident. We’re the new coaches, we’re full of energy. All we want to do is recruit the best players in the country. I have a great deal of respect for the players that played here in the past. My job is to make sure the current players understand and respect that tradition.