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Zorich talks Notre Dame Football

Jan 14, 2010, 7:30 AM EDT

As one of the elder statesmen in the Notre Dame blogosphere, Lou Somogyi of always offers interesting insight when dissecting Notre Dame football.

Lou spoke with former Notre Dame star Chris Zorich on the state of Notre Dame football. But with his typical flair, Somogyi also reached back into his treasure chest of knowledge and mentioned Zorich’s high schoo coachl, John Potocki, calling Zorich someone that was “different” before he even enrolled.

Here are a few choice nuggets that Somogyi got out of Zorich:

On the biggest change he’s seen in college football over the years:

Zorich: You can’t yell at a kid anymore, it seems, otherwise you get
sued. You can’t grab a kid’s facemask, and if you stick a finger in his
chest you get fired. Whoever started all these new rules about coaching
football is probably the same person who said every kid in little
league should be awarded a trophy for participation. Are you kidding
me? Now the kid doesn’t know what it means to truly earn something.

When I dislocated my kneecap in my first spring here, I couldn’t
practice but I was still out there in full equipment, with a knee
stabilizer, and I kept my helmet on. That’s how I was taught. Coach
Holtz would grab my facemask, he’d slap my helmet, he threw me out of
practice all the time. My line coach, John Palermo, he beat the s- out
of me. The offensive line coach Joe Moore, what he had our guys do … Do
you even have fights in practice anymore?

This isn’t badminton. You need coaches who can build you up, tear
you down, piss you off … Football is different than any other team
sport, and your manhood is challenged every play. I could not coach
today, because I would not only be fired the first day, I would be

I didn’t come from a disciplined background growing up, and I needed
someone kicking my ass. In high school I learned to always have my
helmet on and not even take a knee on the sidelines. Water? When a
student manager here first handed me a water bottle, I was like
“Really?” I came from a different environment.

As much as I could hate my coaches at times, it taught me about
courage, succeeding under pressure and pushing myself beyond what I
thought I could do.

On his top recommendation to Brian Kelly:

Zorich: Fight your butt off to get a training table. I think he had
one at Cincinnati. I recently talked with (Connecticut head coach)
Randy Edsall and he has one — and that’s a program that’s been out of
I-AA only nine years. He told me, “When I heard you don’t have a
training table at Notre Dame, it blew my mind.” (Athletic director)
Jack Swarbrick has said that he’s making it a priority because of all
the weight loss that occurred on the team this past season (an average
of 13 pounds per man, possibly contributing to another November

Now, I’m not saying, “Hey, get a training table and we’ll
automatically win.” It’s not just so much about the food per se, but
it’s the camaraderie you have when you are breaking bread with
teammates after a really hard practice or a really hard workout. It’s
not the same like when you’re practicing and going at it against each
other. A quarterback from some farm state has a chance to sit down with
a dude from a different part of the country, it’s the family aspect
that helps make a team. Having meals as a team is a bonding thing and a
different kind of experience where life-long friendships can grow.

I know the university has said that we don’t want our
student-athletes to be treated differently and it wants them to have
the experiences the rest of the student body has — but the players
usually sit with each other in the dining hall anyway. They have that
experience with the rest of the student body by living in the dorms and
going to classes together. But when you are talking about getting
first-rate nutrition, and getting it consistently to maintain your body
properly in big-time athletics, you need to do anything you can to stay
competitive with everyone else. We’ve done so much with facilities and
a lot of other things, but a training table has been the missing link.

Zorich obviously knows what it takes to win and what it takes to play motivated football, and these answers are pretty refreshing when you consider the Mike Leach / Mark Mangino controversies of the past month. Football isn’t badminton. Novel thought, right?

With today’s constant media attention, Lou Holtz’s escapades — never mind John Palermo and Joe Moore’s — would’ve brought intense scrutiny and attention that surely would’ve been unwanted.

As for training table, here’s hoping that Swarbrick figures out a way to incorporate it as soon as this semester, as the strength training and conditioning work that the team does with Paul Longo and his staff will be transformational. 

Great stuff by Somogyi and Zorich…

(H/T: BGS)

  1. Rich Tierney - Jan 14, 2010 at 4:16 PM

    I couldn’t agree with Zorich more on the participation trophy issue. We have created a generation of athletes (and kids in general) that have self esteem that is off the charts, but no self discipline or self control. Self esteemed that hasn’t been earned is a harbinger of an average existence (or in our case, an average football time).
    Anyone who has been coaching kids has been fighting this uphill battle with the parents for some time. Check out this article on the subject -
    Rich Tierney
    Class of 1990

  2. SpfldJimbo - Jan 14, 2010 at 4:32 PM

    As to Swarbrick trying to get a training table incorporated by the semester? How hard can that be? Do it !

  3. JRC - Jan 14, 2010 at 6:18 PM

    As to Zorich’s comments regarding the molly coddling of players, I couldn’t agree more. A perfect example is Craig “I’m just a dad ” James, who’s public whining got a winning coach fired. Leach went 84-43, a winning percentage of 661 and 5-4 in Bowl games. This is at Texas Tech for Gods sake, never known as a perennial powerhouse. Football is not table tennis or golf. It’s a rough game of physical violence and as such requires rough hard nosed players. If you go out for football you know that and certainly the James kid knew that better than most.
    James insipid crying on ESPN (a sport channel, not a knitting site) was quite pathetic.
    He was upset, not because his lazy kid was put in a garage, but because he didn’t get the playing time Daddy thought was his due. Portraying the kid as being locked in a small dark electrical closet, a fact pimped by ESPN, is pure garbage. Of course ESPN didn’t expect the support Leach got and now finds itself being criticized for enabling a personal vendetta.
    Oh Craig, best get ready for a “career move”. Perhaps you can share a duplex with Sean Salisbury “deep in the Heart of Texas”.

  4. Jan - Jan 14, 2010 at 7:37 PM

    Really….how can this even be an issue? How hard can it be to set up the logistics of a training table? And why wouldn’t feeding the athletes be part of their scholarships? Would this be construed as special treatment, financial compensation, or having an unfair competitive advantage? If so, it’s ridiculous.

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    Sure Lucy or who ever you are (varying by thread) just get ahold of Lane Kiffin. I understand he has a summer place there.
    Best hurry though, he moves around a lot.

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