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Minter sees big things for ND with Kelly, Diaco

Jul 26, 2010, 12:20 PM EST

Late last week, former Notre Dame defensive coordinator Rich Minter spoke with the South Bend Tribune’s Eric Hansen and Darin Pritchett on WSBT 960 AM. They covered a variety of topics, and eventually got around to discussing Minter’s time at Notre Dame under both Lou Holtz and Charlie Weis, and his time working with new head coach Brian Kelly at Cincinnati, where Minter returned as an assistant to work under Kelly after being the head coach of the Bearcats from 1994 to 2003.

You can listen to the entire interview here (with the Notre Dame discussion starting around the 5:30 mark), but if his comments are any indication, Rick Minter is a gigantic Brian Kelly fan.

“I worked for Lou Holtz three times, and I really don’t think it’s going to talk long for people to start making some of these favorable comparisons, because I do think that BK is the right guy for the job at this time at Notre Dame,” Minter said.

While he spent a great deal of time complimenting Kelly as a head coach and a leader, Minter also had rave reviews for defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, who came to South Bend as a somewhat unproven coach.

Minter addressed that very issue with Kelly in the days before he decided to take the job in South Bend.

Minter told Kelly:

“I really think you should think hard about taking what people perceive as a young unproven defensive coordinator,” Minter recalled.
 
“When I think about Bobby, I really believe he’s a rising star in the business. He’s tremendously high character, he’s very well spoken, he’s a high intellect guy, a high energy guy, I’ve never worked with him personally, I’ve only gathered this in a few conversations and I know the people that he knows, and how high he’s held in their regard, I trust their opinion. I think he’s truly a young star on the rise.”

The hiring of Diaco reminded Minter of the decision Charlie Weis made when he decided to replace Minter and bring in a younger defensive coordinator who would install the 3-4 defense that Weis knew from his days in New England.

“What Charlie thought he was getting when he let me know, he really
wanted a Bobby Diaco type guy. He didn’t get it, but that’s what he
wanted. That’s what he tried to get when he hired Corwin. But Bob Diaco
really is that guy. He came out of the pedigree of Belichick, Parcells,
Al Groh… I just think the timing is right to come in an implement a
3-4 defense.”

On the subject of the 3-4 defense, Minter himself has come around on the scheme, having run only a 4-3 base for much of his career. He also thinks that a 3-4 will help Notre Dame when it comes to putting together a front-line defense.

“One of the toughest things to recruit is a true-SEC looking front-four. It’s not impossible, but you have to develop them. You rarely get the ready made 280 to 300 pound kid that can come in and make a difference in a 4-3 scheme. But I believe that Notre Dame is a perfect place to come in and run a 3-4 defense.

“I did not do that when I was there, my background was a 4-3. But I truly believe after
having evolved over the last three years into much more of a 3-4 guy. that those are the kind of players that you can indeed recruit nationwide at ND. It’s going to rely on length, strength development, on intelligence, on toughness, on being sound and very coachable high character kids. I’ve already noticed the kind of kids they signed this first class, the kids they’ve already got committed. Just look at the front-four, front-five type guys, they’re these 6-5 to 6-6 guys, that are 215 to 225, let Longo have them, develop them. Guys that can run, guys that are smart, that are hard nosed and will play with great leverage.”

It’s not hard to notice the strategy that Kelly and company took during his first recruiting campaign, where size and length were one of the most important characteristics when profiling an athlete. They’ve continued to go after rangy “big skill” athletes that can develop in a strength and conditioning program that Kelly truly values.

Really illuminating stuff from Minter, a guy who has seen a lot of football under three of the last five football coaches at Notre Dame. 

  1. TLNDMA - Jul 26, 2010 at 2:00 PM

    For anyone who has not listened to this interview, if you give it a listen, you will come away feeling ND is in a much better place than a year ago. Minter holds Kelly’s head coaching ability in very high regard, Weis’s not so much.
    It seems Weis and Minter butted heads a few times. Differences in personell, schemes or techniques. We know already that Kelly’s crew are all on the same page. The more you hear of Weis’s time, the more you think, he was just guessing.

  2. Art Vandelay - Jul 26, 2010 at 2:25 PM

    @TLNDMA…I agree that we are in a better place now than with Weis. I don’t think CW did a lot of guessing however. I think he came at the job from a totally different perspective and from an NFL mindset. There, the salary is the motivator. In college, these kids need to get pumped up on the idea of playing for your school, your teammates, student body, etc. I didn’t want BK at first but have come to see him as somebody that can motivate on a college level. He gets these kids to play above their ability level and as a team. After hearing the Minter interview, I also have high hopes for this season. I saw the video of BK singing “Take Me Out To the Ballgame” at the Cubs game the other night and I hope and pray that his tenure at ND is not a Willinghamesque “One, two, three strikes you’re out of the old ballgame.”

  3. Doug - Jul 26, 2010 at 3:13 PM

    Speaking of Minter…
    I live in Terre Haute, IN. Minter was just named the linebackers coach at Indiana State (not IU of the Big Ten/Twelve, but ISU). It seems to be the place where former ND coaches go to die. The head coach is Trent Miles (former coach under Willingham), Rick Minter (we know his story) and they just got rid of Bill Diedrick (sp?) (former offensive coordinator under Willingham). ISU broke the NCAA Div 1 record for the longest loosing streak last year. Maybe that shows the caliber of coaches those guys really are/were.

  4. TLNDMA - Jul 26, 2010 at 4:42 PM

    Just read on Irish Ill. that Stephon Tuiit(De,Ga.) is going to take an official visit to ND, in the fall. Watch his video on ESPN recruiting site. He’s rated 14th? in nation and 3rd in Ga. Hard to believe. Big, fast and strong, would be a great get.
    You have to believe(hope) that a lot of these kids are waiting to see how things go this year for the Irish. A successful season(9 wins) could reap huge rewards come signing day.

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