Notre Dame Football: Iowa Hawkeyes

1. The American Football Coaches Association named David Cutcliffe of Duke its FBS coach of the year, and I hope a little part of him is seething. Yes, the Blue Devils had never won 10 games before this year. But Duke went to a bowl game in 2012. It’s not as if this season came entirely came out of the blue. Coaching awards are mostly about expectations. The AFCA voted that Duke winning 10 games is more outlandish than Gus Malzahn taking Auburn from 3-9, 0-8 in the SEC, to within nine seconds of being No. 1. That makes no sense.

2. The run of assistant coach hirings over the last few days serves as a reminder that coaches change jobs but relationships endure. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly hired Brian VanGorder as his defensive coordinator. VanGorder, the Jets’ linebacker coach, worked for Kelly at Division II Grand Valley State in the ‘90s. Bo Davis, who is returning to Alabama as defensive line coach, is the fourth of the Crimson Tide’s nine assistants whom Nick Saban has rehired. He might be hard to work for, but they keep coming back.

3. Longtime Iowa defensive coordinator Norm Parker died Monday, at age 72, only three seasons after retiring because of complications from diabetes. Parker was a coach’s coach. He didn’t look for the spotlight. He just delighted in coaching his players, teaching them the fundamentals of the basic, solid defense that has been a hallmark of Kirk Ferentz’s teams in his 14 seasons in Iowa City.

4-star LB Jaylon Smith commits to Irish

June, 2, 2012
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ANGOLA, Ind. -- Long rumored to be a heavy Notre Dame lean, four-star outside linebacker Jaylon Smith (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers) ended all speculation with a pledge to the Fighting Irish on Saturday at the inaugural R.A.S Football Camp hosted by Dallas Cowboys linebacker Anthony Spencer at Trine University.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Smith is ranked No. 46 in the ESPN 150 and is the top prospect in Indiana. He reported offers from Alabama, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Purdue, Tennessee, Texas A&M and USC.

"Every (Notre Dame) coach has the same stand character-wise," Smith said. "Other coaches tell you what you want to hear, and I saw that with my brother." Rod Smith, a running back, is entering his sophomore season at Ohio State.

Smith is Notre Dame's top 2013 commit, its third commit in the ESPN 150 and its 13th overall.

Elliott named Irish safeties coach

January, 21, 2012
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Bob Elliott is Notre Dame's new safeties coach, the school announced Saturday.

Elliott, a 33-year coaching veteran, comes from Iowa State, where he served as the Cyclones' secondary coach the past two seasons.

“My family and I are excited to be part of this great university,” Elliott said in a statement. “I grew up in the Midwest and have spent much of my life in this region and always wondered what it would be like to coach at Notre Dame. This was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up and am happy to be associated with this great place.”

Elliott also has a combined 11 seasons of experience as a defensive coordinator, at San Diego State, Kansas State, Iowa and Ball State.

The position was open because former Irish safeties coach Chuck Martin moved to offensive coordinator this offseason, where he replaces Charley Molnar, who took over as head coach at Massachusetts.

Elliott is familiar with members of the current Irish staff, as he coached current co-defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach Kerry Cooks at Iowa in 1997, when Elliott was the Hawkeyes' defensive coordinator and outside linebackers coach. Current Irish assistant head coach and defensive coordinator Bob Diaco was a graduate assistant under Elliott from 1996-97.

“I couldn’t be more excited about bringing Bob Elliott to Notre Dame,” Irish head coach Brian Kelly said in a statement. “At his core, Bob is an outstanding teacher and tactician. He has had great success developing top-tier defensive backs and his experience as a defensive coordinator will complement our coaching staff. Bobby has a long-standing relationship with Bob Diaco and Kerry Cooks so the transition to our staff should be extremely smooth. I know our safeties will love playing for him.”

The Irish staff has shuffled this offseason, with Tim Hinton (running backs) and Ed Warinner (offensive line/running game coordinator) leaving for jobs under Urban Meyer at Ohio State.

Former offensive intern Scott Booker was promoted to a full-time staff member at a position yet to be determined.

How do you expect your coach to act?

January, 18, 2012
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Colleague Adam Rittenberg had a post Tuesday in the Big Ten blog that might have struck a chord with Notre Dame fans.

As many of you know by now, Iowa men's basketball coach Fran McCaffery drew some negative attention last week for his slamming of a chair during a timeout at Michigan State.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany told USA Today that the conference doesn't expect such conduct moving forward. Rittenberg wonders if those on the sidelines of the gridiron have gotten the message.
Football coaches had better take notice, because we're in an age when every gesture is caught on camera and will make its way to the Big Ten office. One too many blowups could lead to repercussions from a league that wants its coaches to be good public representatives.

The Big Ten has some coaches known to get a bit riled up on the sideline. Nebraska's Bo Pelini had some well-documented issues in a 2010 game at Texas A&M. Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald is very animated during games. Although a gum-throwing Bill Lynch isn't around any more at Indiana, there aren't too many Tom Landrys in this league.

Will the McCaffery incident change how football coaches conduct themselves during games? Probably not. Should they pay attention to what happened? Absolutely.

Fans seem to be split on this issue. Most want their coach to be passionate and energetic. As a Chicago Bears fan, I struggle with Lovie Smith's perpetually stoic sideline demeanor.

But I've also heard from some Nebraska fans irked by Pelini's blowups (imagine if Mike Stoops had ended up in Lincoln, too?).

How do you want your coach to behave on the sideline during games?

Not mentioned because he is not in the Big Ten is Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, who caught plenty of heat for his sideline tantrums during the Irish's season-opening loss to South Florida. But he certainly fits the bill here.

I said at the time that Kelly likely would have been lauded for his passion had Notre Dame gotten off to a better start this season. And it's hard to believe Irish fans weren't just as angry while watching a five-turnover loss to an overmatched Big East opponent.

That being said, perception means a lot in the coaching business, particularly at the college level. And, to steal a line of thinking from Adam, as a New York Giants fan, I saw Tom Coughlin undergo a late-career makeover and become a much more likable figure with his players, something that proved crucial in a Super Bowl season four years ago.

It's been a topic brought up by you here and there during the season, but I'm anxious to hear more of your reaction to what you expect from your coaches on the sideline.

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