You had said that you were out of a job before Brian Kelly hired you at Grand Valley. What kind of influence has he been on your career?
“CHUCK MARTIN: Once again, we got to work with some pretty good players. That's the starting point. We're different in a lot of, lot of ways. People that know us know we're pretty different people. But we're similar in a lot of ways when it comes to football, as far as competitiveness and confidence, and then obviously he's been running a program for, not the longest tenure in college, but he's been in charge for a long, long time and just being around him on a daily basis, it's just organizationally, and I always tell people he's the best off-the-field head coach in America. There's so many things that he gets done for the players in this program to make their lives more efficient, to make their lives more enjoyable, that you're always learning those things. That kind of stuff is obviously what I'll move forward with.
Everyone knows I'm a lifelong Notre Dame fan, and that's the only place I ever really wanted to coach, so obviously it's a very difficult decision to not stay there. But for me, for my family, for my career, this was the best move to put me in a position to get to where I want to go at the end of the day.” New Miami (Ohio) coach Chuck Martin
Did you learn even more these last two years, just being on the offensive side of the ball with him and calling the plays and whatnot?
CM: Yeah, I would say more big-picture stuff, too. That's always where I was looking to him, as far as how is he handing certain situations, how is he improving the whole organization, how is he getting things done for the football program, how is he getting things done for our players that gives us a better chance for success. There's only so many ways to run routes and throw, sometimes that can be a little bit overblown. This, that and the other thing. But definitely the big-picture stuff is where you get the most value.
When news of your departure from Notre Dame broke, there were a lot of positive comments from the players -- congrats and whatnot -- on the new gig. What are you going to miss most about that group that you worked with these past couple of years?
CM: These were incredible kids. Obviously they are so much more than football players at Notre Dame. And that's why Notre Dame has so much pride in its student-athletes, because they're truly student-athletes. We watched what they'd go through on a daily grind. It's so impressive. They're awesome kids from awesome families. Whenever you leave a job, you'll miss the school, you miss the people, in particular you miss the players. And they move on and graduate, too. But those are the things that you miss the most — the interaction with the people you work with, and the interaction with the kids you coach. Everyone knows I'm a lifelong Notre Dame fan, and that's the only place I ever really wanted to coach, so obviously it's a very difficult decision to not stay there. But for me, for my family, for my career, this was the best move to put me in a position to get to where I want to go at the end of the day.
The day you took the Miami job, news broke that Everett Golson was going to be re-admitted to Notre Dame. I'm just curious about what your relationship with him has been like and what kind of impression he left on you with the way he was able to recover these last couple of months and do what he needed to do to get back on track?
CM: Just very proud of him. He's my guy, and I enjoyed all my time with him when he was there. I even enjoyed my time with him when he was a little bit afar. I'm just proud of how he's grown over the last few years, and he's an awesome kid with an awesome heart, and just figuring his way. He's already done so many special things at Notre Dame, and I know he's going to do a bunch more special things in his last couple of years. But very proud of how he handled it, and how he really started to take a situation that certainly could be a negative and turned it into a positive. And that's what you're always looking for kids to do. Kids don't hit a home run with every decision they make, and when they make bad decisions and they improve from these decisions that's when you know they're really turning into the type of person that they're capable of being.
There are reports of some guys from there possibly playing their fifth years with you. Can you speak to that yet?
CM: I don't know that any of them are really spending a ton of time with that now. I think they've got finals right now and then they've got a bowl game to play. And if down the road they decide that that's something they want to do, obviously if they choose to move on from Notre Dame, I would obviously be interested. But on the other hand, they're just kind of handling their business and finishing their semester and finishing their season. We'll kind of see where that takes us in the future.
- Former Notre Dame and current USF defensive end Aaron Lynch is NFL-bound.
- Irish graduate assistant Pat Welsh is among Chuck Martin's three staff additions at Miami (Ohio), where he will coach tight ends.
- Chris Watt doesn't expect his knee injury to significantly alter his draft prep, JJ Stankevitz writes on CSNChicago.com.
- Former Notre Dame and NFL center Jeff Faine is making a smooth transition in his life after football, Dan Murphy writes on BlueandGold.com. (Subscription required)
- Notre Dame offers a glimpse of its Dec. 17 practice, via WatchND.tv
ESPN.com caught up with Martin on Monday night. Here is Part I of that conversation.
What have these last two weeks been like for you? I imagine little sleep, a lot of traveling and a lot of meeting with new faces.
Chuck Martin: Yeah, it's been crazy, and obviously there's a lot of things to get up and running, and hiring a staff, and trying to get going in recruiting, and trying to figure out the lay of the land of the place you just got hired. So yeah, it's been good, but like anytime you change jobs it's a little bit of a whirlwind. But you get going and you work as many hours as you can every day, try to get as much stuff you can get done, knowing that you'd like to get more done but it's not going to happen. So you just keep plugging away and keep grinding.
Did you find a house out there yet? How's the living situation going on with the family and everything?
When you first got there and got to meet the players and the personnel, what was your initial impression of what you had to work with?
CM: Well in that case, you never know -- when you don't have as much success as you'd like, there's a lot of different reasons for that. The one thing that I was very, very pleased with was that we have good kids and they like each other. We don't have like a fractured team. There (wasn't) some big issue within the framework of your team, so that's obviously a good starting point. If you have good kids that like each other and they have some resemblance of a team going in, then it's something you can build on and start. And again, for me, we didn't get into a whole lot of what's good, what's bad, what's been done great, what's been done not-so-great. It was just kind of, we're going to put in our own systems, from offseason strength and conditioning to how we handle academic stuff, to obviously new systems on offense and defense, and then we're going to start recruiting kids to our system for the future. But in the short term we're going to try to develop the kids we have and just go full-steam ahead. So we don't spend a lot of time trying to figure out good, bad or indifferent or what we have. We just say, hey, this is our team right now and let's start developing the players and let's get better for next fall.
During your introductory press conference you mentioned Ara Parseghian. Have you two touched base since you took the job?
CM: I have not. I was actually, it's funny, I was at Armando's (barber shop) the day I was taking off and Ara was in there the day before and had told Armando that, 'Hey, we've got to get a good coach at Miami of Ohio.' So just the fact that Ara Parseghian was talking about a job that I was getting ready to take was pretty special for me. It kind of makes you pinch yourself and makes you pretty excited. If this place is important to Ara Parseghian and I'm the one in charge of getting it turned back around, that's pretty awesome.
How have you or will you go about filling out your staff?
CM: We got some guys on board. I think they're releasing them (Tuesday) or (Monday night) at some time. We've got about four or five guys hired and we're in the process of filling our last three or four spots, so we're plugging away. It's something you want to get it working but also, it's like a giant puzzle -- got to get the pieces to fit right. You want to make sure that everybody can complement one another. And some guys hopefully bring some attributes to the table that other guys don't have. So as you start to fill in and then you get to those last couple spots, you might be looking for some key things you don't have yet on the staff to try to fill those keys. But it's a fun process, you'd like it go very quickly, but also you're here for the long term and you want to get the right people to build it the right way.
Your coaching career has been anything but conventional, especially at Notre Dame, moving from safeties coach to offensive coordinator. How do you think having your feet in all of these different spots at all of these different programs is going to help you in running your own program?
CM: Yeah. It started back when I took over for Coach (Brian) Kelly at Grand Valley. Spent 12 years on defense and only coached on defense and I moved to offense then with these days in mind. I'm only 45; I'm hoping I coach a lot longer. My plan back then, it wasn't by accident that I moved to offense. I had a plan that I was going to be a head coach, hopefully for a long time, and that to know both sides of the ball and have true experience on both sides of the ball and not just be a one-dimensional head coach would not only benefit me in running an organization, but also benefit me when I get a job where I can probably add just as much to one side as you can to the other. So obviously going to Notre Dame and having the experience of going as a defense guy and then flipping to offense halfway through, that's why I was excited about the opportunity. You keep growing and learning in college football; you never stop learning. You've got to stay up with all the new wrinkles every day. When you have the experience of bouncing back and forth like I had, you kind of take turns with what everybody's doing, and now I feel obviously that will super benefit me when I get here.
- Could Under Armour replace Adidas at Notre Dame?
- Notre Dame-Rutgers ranks among bowl season's most lopsided matchups, JJ Stankevitz writes on CSNChicago.com.
- The (Newark) Star-Ledger's Mike Vorkunov looks at one way in which Rutgers athletic director Julie Hermann is working to win over boosters. Steve Politi looks at perhaps the biggest one, Greg Brown.
- Jaylon Smith makes 247's all-freshman team.
- Notre Dame commit Isaiah McKenzie is starting to find his way in life at American Heritage, Manny Navarro writes in the Miami Herald.
Ohio State makes Southern push
Shortly after Ohio State landed five-star linebacker Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County), I asked on Twitter if it’s time to stop doubting Buckeye coach Urban Meyer’s recruiting efforts. Of course, fans from other schools all over the country jumped in and said the jury is still out (and several other things that aren’t safe for print). But even then the biggest Meyer critics might have to change their minds if he is able to also land No. 4 receiver Johnnie Dixon (Palm Beach, Fla./Dwyer) in the next couple of days. The Buckeyes currently have the nation’s No. 8 class and have some major momentum heading into the final push.
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The Irish picked up two linebacker commits on Sunday with Nile Sykes (Lombard, Ill./Montini Catholic) and Kolin Hill (Schertz, Texas/Samuel Clemens).
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- Notre Dame's bowl ticket allotment is sold out. So, too, is Rutgers'.
- Your announcers for the New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Chris Fowler, Jesse Palmer and Paul Carcaterra.
- Brian Kelly wants experience in his next defensive coordinator, though "experienced" is a fairly broad term, JJ Stankevitz writes on CSNChicago.com.
- The South Bend Tribune's Al Lesar says this could be the Irish's worst bowl ever.
- Rutgers' first practice without its three fired assistants went without a hitch, Tom Luicci writes in the (Newark) Star-Ledger.
The Fighting Irish took another step toward that goal on Monday, grabbing a commitment from ESPN 300 tight end Tyler Luatua (La Mirada, Calif./La Mirada).
Early on in his recruitment, Luatua was split between Alabama -- the school where his older brother, Isaac, attends and plays football -- and USC -- the hometown favorite. But even before the Trojans faded in their recruitment of Luatua, Notre Dame made a significant impression and grabbed virtually all of his attention. He took an official visit to see the Fighting Irish beat the Trojans in mid-October, and though he also attended Alabama's big recruiting weekend in early November, it wasn't enough to unseat Notre Dame, which built a solid relationship with the 6-foot-3, 243-pound tight end and had been his leader for a significant amount of time.
Luatua's commitment doesn't only give Notre Dame a big-time player at a position in which they continue to build strength, it's also another outstanding California prospect making their way to South Bend, Ind. In the 2013 class, Notre Dame was able to swoop in and grab four-star safety Max Redfield away from several Pac-12 programs. In 2014, Luatua joins four-star defensive tackle Matt Dickerson (San Mateo, Calif./Junipero Serra), who held offers from Oregon, UCLA, USC and Washington.
He joins a tight end group that is getting a significant influx of talent. Four-star tight end Nic Weishar (Chicago/Marist) is part of the 2014 class, and four-stars Mike Heuerman and Durham Smythe signed with Notre Dame in the 2013 class.
Luatua is commitment No. 23 for Notre Dame. He is the eighth ESPN 300 prospect and the 15th four-star commitment. He is also the No. 2 prospect in the class, behind only offensive tackle Alex Bars (Nashville, Tenn./Montgomery Bell Academy), who is ranked No. 51.
How will Luatua fit in Brian Kelly's system? Let's break it down:
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He did say on Saturday, however, that he does not expect any more of his assistants to leave, and that was seemingly confirmed shortly afterward by defensive line coach Mike Elston, whose first-ever tweet was the announcement he's staying at Notre Dame. (There had been some chatter that he could follow Bob Diaco to UConn to become the Huskies' defensive coordinator.)
Staying at ND. Love thee Notre Dame. Go Irish.
— Mike Elston (@CoachMikeElston) December 14, 2013
As for the awards show, TJ Jones took home team MVP honors in a team vote that Kelly said wasn't even close. (Yours truly had predicted Jones as the winner beforehand, just as he had predicted the correct final score of the Stanford game.)
Jones easily took home best-dressed honors on the night, wearing a burgundy suit with a bowtie and some hipster glasses. Corey Robinson and Chris Watt were among the bowtie-wearers as well.
The biggest news, or non-news, of the night came when Stephon Tuitt met with the media afterward, saying he remains undecided on his future.
As for the big winners on Friday...
- Scout team player of the year, offense (presented by Mike Denbrock): Torii Hunter Jr., over Josh Anderson and Tyler Plantz
- Scout team player of the year, defense (presented by Josh Reardon): Joe Romano over Bruce Heggie and Austin Larkin
- Newcomer of the year, offense (presented by Tony Alford): Tarean Folston over Nick Martin and Corey Robinson
- Newcomer of the year, defense (presented by Bob Elliott): Jaylon Smith over Jarrett Grace and Cole Luke
- Around the Bend award (presented by Ernest Jones): Tyler Stockton (Community service)
- Father Lange Iron Cross Award (presented by Paul Longo): Carlo Calabrese (Weight room)
- Special teams player of the year (presented by Scott Booker): Kyle Brindza
- Nick Pietrosante Award: Chris Watt and Dan Fox (Courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication)
- Defensive lineman of the year (presented by Mike Elston): Stephon Tuitt
- Offensive lineman of the year (presented by Harry Hiestand): Zack Martin
- Rockne Student-Athlete award (presented by David Peloquin): Jarrett Grace
- Next Man In award (presented by Brian Kelly): Kona Schwenke
- Offensive player of the year (presented by Brian Kelly): Tommy Rees
- Defensive player of the year (presented by Brian Kelly): Prince Shembo
- MVP (presented by Brian Kelly): TJ Jones
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Everett Golson will return to Notre Dame after serving a semester-long suspension for academic impropriety, but coach Brian Kelly says the quarterback is prepared that not everyone may welcome him back.
"There's going to be a lot of noise surrounding Everett Golson," Kelly said. "I think there's going to be as many people looking for him to not succeed as there will be to succeed. Unfortunately, not everybody likes a good story. So there will be some cynics out there. I think we're going to have to support him. But he's prepared to handle all those things."
Golson was suspended from the university in May for the fall semester and readmitted to school on Friday. He will not begin working out with the team until after the Irish (8-4) play Rutgers (6-6) in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl in New York City on Dec. 28.
Golson plans to travel to New York on his own and will visit with the team, Kelly said. He has not talked to Golson since he had been readmitted, saying they had missed each other's telephone calls. But Kelly traveled to Golson's hometown of Myrtle Beach, S.C., on Tuesday to meet with him.
Golson, who was listed at 185 pounds when Notre Dame faced Alabama in the national championship game last year, looked "physically more mature, probably over 200 pounds," Kelly said. "He looked great, quite frankly. Great physical condition and I think mentally is really where I saw a young man that understands what he's coming back to."
"I'm not showing anything," Tuitt said, laughing, on possibly revealing his hand. "I know y'all want it."
Mel Kiper Jr. currently rates the 6-foot-6, 312-pound Tuitt as the No. 9 overall eligible prospect for next spring's NFL Draft, while Scouts Inc. has Tuitt at No. 12.
The Monroe, Ga., native said it has not been difficult to compartmentalize thoughts of his decision while preparing for the Dec. 28 New Era Pinstripe Bowl against Rutgers.
"It's easy for me. I could put a lot of stuff back," Tuitt said. "But I will say it has creeped from time to time to go in my mind, but I try to erase it and eradicate it. You can't do anything unless you finish off strong."
Tuitt said he is about a year away from receiving his degree in psychology, and graduating is a point his mother has drilled home with him often in the past year.
He also said defensive coordinator Bob Diaco leaving to become UConn's head coach will not affect his decision, adding that he is happy for Diaco and his move.
Diaco met with Notre Dame players Thursday to explain his decision, leaving a strong impression before he moved on to Storrs, Conn.
"We had some closure," linebacker Jarrett Grace said. "I think that showed the kind of guy he is, how he's upstanding and has really high character, and we appreciated him doing that."
Notre Dame Class Jumps Into Top 10
FBS INDEP. SCOREBOARD
2:00 PM ET Washington State Colorado State 3:30 PM ET 20 Fresno State 25 USC 5:30 PM ET Buffalo San Diego State 9:00 PM ET Tulane Louisiana-Lafayette
6:00 PM ET Pittsburgh Bowling Green 9:30 PM ET Utah State 23 Northern Illinois
2:30 PM ET Marshall Maryland 6:00 PM ET Syracuse Minnesota 9:30 PM ET Brigham Young Washington
12:00 PM ET Rutgers Notre Dame 3:20 PM ET Cincinnati North Carolina 6:45 PM ET Miami (FL) 18 Louisville 10:15 PM ET Michigan Kansas State
11:45 AM ET Middle Tennessee Navy 3:15 PM ET Ole Miss Georgia Tech 6:45 PM ET 10 Oregon Texas 10:15 PM ET 14 Arizona State Texas Tech
12:30 PM ET Arizona Boston College 2:00 PM ET Virginia Tech 17 UCLA 4:00 PM ET Rice Mississippi State 8:00 PM ET 24 Duke 21 Texas A&M
12:00 PM ET Nebraska 22 Georgia 12:00 PM ET UNLV North Texas 1:00 PM ET Iowa 16 LSU 1:00 PM ET 19 Wisconsin 9 South Carolina 5:00 PM ET 5 Stanford 4 Michigan State 8:30 PM ET 15 UCF 6 Baylor
7:30 PM ET 13 Oklahoma State 8 Missouri 8:30 PM ET 12 Clemson 7 Ohio State