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Bob Diaco: "We don't like losers"

by Bill, Southern California, Sunday, August 19, 2012, 13:40

I thought this was a pretty interesting exchange between Tim Prister and Bob Diaco during Media Day. Video available here

QUESTION: When you're recruiting linebackers, what are you looking for, what are the specific physical characteristics of a Dog, Cat, Will, Mike"¦How do you differentiate?
BOB DIACO: We recruit inside linebackers and outside linebackers.

Q: You're not differentiating between them?
BD: We'd like to think that when the outside linebackers trot out of the tunnel, they all look the same, and when the inside linebackers trot out, they all look the same.

Q: But when you're looking at guys, you're also saying, "˜Okay, he's probably going to be a Cat, he's a Dog, he looks more like a Cat"¦Or you're not even doing that?
BD: No.

Q: What characteristics does a Cat need more than a Dog?
BD: Here's the issue. There are a couple of issues. One, for me to get into that would be kind of sharing what we do defensively, which is a system that we built. I don't share it, I don't clinic it, I have no interest in doing that. It's ours, it's unique to what we do, and it begins with the recruiting process. So in sharing a bit about the recruiting process in those terms, we're kind of sharing a bit of how we conduct our business and I'm just not going to do that.

Q: What one or two telltale signs tell you that you don't want to recruit that player?
BD: Oh my gosh, there are a ton of things"¦When I look at their transcripts"¦

Q: Let's say we're already past that stage"¦
BD: We don't like losers.

Q: Guys that are on losing teams?
BD: Guys that are on losing teams.

Q: Let's just talk physical characteristics. You see this outside linebacker and you thought you wanted to recruit him, but you saw that and it was like, "˜No, I don't want to recruit him anymore.' What one, two or three things are there that stand out and eliminate players you thought about recruiting?
BD: We really don't like small players in general. We believe that if we have a big defense, we're going to have a chance to have a good defense. How good? We don't know. But when we come off the bus, if we're as big or bigger than our opponent, we believe we'll have a good chance to have a good defense.

Q: Where do you draw the line between size and speed?
BD: It depends on the position and the position needs. When you go out to recruit, you have to look at your position to then -- inside of that -- make some small choices to keep the position moving forward. You look at your position and you say, "˜Hey, will this player make the position better?' Some years it's size, some years maybe it's intangible traits like toughness, aggressiveness. Some years it might be speed. So as you look at your position, you hope it's all within a small little change. You're still not going to come off the profile from a size standpoint to get a little guy who is really fast, which a lot of teams do. A lot of teams chase the production, chase players for players' sake, chase the ratings, chase flashes of things"¦But then you plug them into your defense and it's like, "˜He really can't function. They can't do the jobs we ask them to do.' So it's important that we stay disciplined in our approach that way.

Q: You try to pick the brain of a recruit to find out what he's made of, how he'll respond to"¦
BD: Absolutely. I do. Absolutely. You can ask the recruits. I'm very direct with them.

Q: Give me an example of a direct question.
BD: They need to understand what distinguishes Notre Dame from other institutions. We don't hide from that. There's going to be snow on the ground, it's going to be cold, it's not about trying to trick recruits and bring them up here on a sunny day in September. Their life's not going to be like that. Then we have the player and he's disenchanted because he doesn't want to trek through 10 inches of snow. It doesn't make any sense.

Q: And do they tell you that other schools are saying this about Notre Dame?
BD: We hear some of that business, but I don't get involved in that. I don't talk about other schools. I just don't believe in it. Sometimes you come down to the end (and) the kid mentions three schools and you're like, "˜You know what? They're all good choices. I think you're going to be a great success at any one of those. Good luck in your decision.'

Q: What do you promise kids?
BD: Nothing.

Q: No, I don't mean, "˜If you come to Notre Dame, you're going to get this, this and this.' I don't mean promise them and not live up to it"¦
BD: I promise them that I'm going to care about them every day, that I'm not going to demoralize them, dehumanize them, emasculate them. That when they come to my lecture it's going to be the best lecture of their day and I'm going to do that every day. And I promise them that they're going to get better. So I don't know what they're going to do, if they're ever going to play, but their game will improve every day.

Q: Did you have coaches emasculate you along the way?
BD: Not really. I was very fortunate that I had great coaches. But I've watched some, and I'm sure there's success in that too. But I don't conduct my business that way.

Q: And did you go into (coaching) determined not to be that kind of coach? I'm going to be this kind of coach?
BD: I don't think you can do that. I think might want to try that and it might work for a few days, but if it's really not in your core and not in your DNA, eventually the players are going to sniff it out and then you're really shot because not only are you that guy but you're a fraud. Now what else have you lied to me about?

diaco, defense


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