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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


really interesting interview

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Sunday, August 19, 2012, 20:57 @ Bill

More expansive than I've ever heard him before.

I think a good blog post/series would be to try to unravel exactly how his "proprietary" defense functions.


Players making plays

by Bill, Southern California, Monday, August 20, 2012, 07:06 @ Jay

From Prister's follow-on article today on Diaco:

"He understands that it's not the plays that will make the plays," Te'o said. "It's not the plays that will make us a championship team. It's the players, it's the camaraderie, it's who we are as individuals, it's being masters of our fundamentals. That's what he understands.

That's the philosophy I like to hear.


The Prister or UND interview?

by MattyCinNYC, Parts Unknown, Monday, August 20, 2012, 05:40 @ Jay

The interview with Nolan covers much of the same but he also talks a lot more candidly about the secondary than I've ever seen.

One quote was something like "expecting better numbers statistically this year from our secondary given the lack of experience is unreasonable."


spitballing here

by HumanRobot @, Cybertron, Monday, August 20, 2012, 05:20 @ Jay

But I'd have to think Grace and Deeb could offer some clues as to what this staff looks for in inside linebackers. My guess is that Diaco and crew prioritize strength for their ILBs since they want guys who can take on a guard or center.

When it comes to OLBs, I think that a guy like Rabasa or Councell is the most informative. Interestingly, Rivals listed both those guys as DEs, although on the lighter side. My guess is here they're prioritizing speed, since they want a guy who can rush the passer or drop into coverage.

In both cases, my guess is there's some minimum strength and speed cut-off that they're looking for. An ILB has a higher strength but lower speed cut-off and vice versa for an OLB. Just my guess, though.


there is nothing more important in coaching

by Busco21, Sunday, August 19, 2012, 15:06 @ Bill

Than being yourself. If you're a yeller, yell. If you're not, don't. Kids can sense any ounce of fraud. In one second. And the funny thing is, the best players sense it first.

I've seen several frauds in my decades of football (God it hurts to type that, decades... really?) Be yourself. Care about the kids as human beings. Care about helping them improve. Help them enjoy the game and the process involved in winning games.

Lather, rinse, repeat.


great interview; i like Diaco a lot

by JD in Portland ⌂, Portland OR, Sunday, August 19, 2012, 14:55 @ Bill

Our improvement on D side has been dramatic. Diaco seems to me like a very good coach and good guy. I am puzzled by the fan base's refusal to warm to this guy


Our D has blown a few games.

by Slainte Joe, Raleigh, Sunday, August 19, 2012, 18:43 @ JD in Portland

Navy 2010 was definitely game plan. Some others, UM 2011, perhaps were execution. But he's the chief of that unit, and so will be blamed, not unjustly, for those failures.

Maybe he's the next Bob Stoops or Will Muschamp, but I'm not persuaded yet.


One time in each of the last two years (Navy '10 and SC '11)

by CK08, Monday, August 20, 2012, 07:02 @ Slainte Joe

He's put together a game plan that set the front seven up to fail. Other than that, he's been fantastic, especially given the tire fire he inherited.

I really hope the one bad game plan a year trend doesn't continue.


I do Worry

by HumanRobot @, Cybertron, Sunday, August 19, 2012, 18:55 @ Slainte Joe

I worry that a good as Diaco might be at everything else that he's weakest at the Xs and Os and in game adjustments, which can ultimately cost a game our two a season.


I think it's two main things

by BPH, San Diego, Sunday, August 19, 2012, 15:21 @ JD in Portland

1. The Navy game in 2010.

2. And, a corollary to that, some of his truly embarrassing media interviews, namely following Navy 2010.

He's a bit of an odd duck, and I think the way he presents himself can lead some to question his mental aptitude and his overall competence. But I think he's extremely competent, and Mayock could be right when he calls him one of the brightest young coordinators in college football.


There is a third reason

by hobbs, San Diego, Sunday, August 19, 2012, 16:20 @ BPH

I'd venture to guess that a very high percentage of people who refuse to embrace Diaco are made up of those who screamed loudest that he was a bad 2nd tier hire.

Human nature I guess, but when people make loud public pronouncements, it often takes a lot to force a retreat and even then they'll do so only grudgingly.

As for Navy, I've always been of the opinion that Diaco jumped on a grenade after that game. People want to hold the Michigan game against him.

Me, I say a coaches #1 responsibility is to put their players in position to make plays. If a coach does that then its on the players to make plays. In the UM game ND's defenders were always in position to make plays but never did. Even on the last last drive Diaco put his defense in perfect position to defend the wheel route. Unfortunately his 5th year Sr simply blew the coverage. I don't blame a coach for that, he did his job. I blame the player for not handling their business.

Overall I'm not completely sold on him, but I have been impressed by overall play of the defense and the rate of growth. If his charges have another year of growth and improvement this year, I'll be all in.


I wonder if that will hurt him come hiring time

by Jeremy (WeIsND), Offices of Babip Pecota Vorp & Eckstein, Sunday, August 19, 2012, 16:10 @ BPH

I get a kick out of those interviews, but I could see some ADs and presidents who might be scratching their heads as he walks out the door.


Les Myles found a way.

by ⌂ @, Sunday, August 19, 2012, 16:45 @ Jeremy (WeIsND)

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Sometimes I rhyme slow sometimes I rhyme quick.


I will be crushed...

by ⌂ @, Sunday, August 19, 2012, 15:14 @ JD in Portland

when we lose him. If we could somehow manage to keep him for 5 more years, that'd be one hell of a stroke of luck.

Sometimes I rhyme slow sometimes I rhyme quick.


That Bob Diaco with his olive oil voice and DC charm

by irishoutsider @, Sunday, August 19, 2012, 14:40 @ Bill

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and his use of third person

by Spesh ⌂ @, Los Angeles, Sunday, August 19, 2012, 14:47 @ irishoutsider

From the BGI interview:

BGI: For you, taking over as assistant head coach, have you taken on some of the other things that allow him to be more hands on?

Diaco: "I think he's kind of given some things to me. It's still a choice he's making, and it's been awesome. Even in his day, with all he has to do, to help Bob Diaco with his development is really neat. I've got a massive amount of respect for coach for doing that."


Reminds me of Willingham.

by Slainte Joe, Raleigh, Sunday, August 19, 2012, 14:58 @ Spesh

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by irishoutsider @, Sunday, August 19, 2012, 14:49 @ Spesh

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That's a fascinating interview

by BPH, San Diego, Sunday, August 19, 2012, 14:34 @ Bill

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Someone else used to say that...

by ⌂ @, Sunday, August 19, 2012, 14:13 @ Bill

Was it Weis or Carroll? I swear we heard it and roundly thought that was a great ideology.

Sometimes I rhyme slow sometimes I rhyme quick.

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