"We're not better than anybody else, but you're shopping down a different aisle, and we make sure that's clear in the process."
Defensive coordinator Bob Diaco adheres to the mantra, with the added element of full disclosure.
"I'm very direct with them," said Diaco when asked if he tries to 'pick a recruit's brain.' "I think 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."
Nor does it makes sense to Diaco to promise playing time or any other athletic perk. Life lessons, on the other hand, seem to com naturally.
"I promise them I'm going to care about them every day," he said of prospects and players alike. "I'm not going to demoralize them, emasculate them, de-humanize them. That when they come to my lecture that its going to be the best lecture of their day. And I do that every day.
"And I promise them they're going to get better. I don't know what they're going to do, if they're ever going to play, but they're going to get better along the way."
Diaco admitted he was fortunate that during his playing career he had coaches that treated him with similar respect. Did he then make a conscious effort to be that type of coach when he started in the business?
"I don't think that you can do that. You might want to try that and it might work for a few days, but if its really not in your core, and its not in your DNA, then the players are going to sniff it out," he said. "And then you're done. Not only are you that guy, now you're a fraud. Now (a player will think, 'What else have you lied to me about?'"
Notre Dame has had, at minimum, a top 25 recruiting class through two coaching regimes over the last eight cycles (including 2013). Still, Diaco knows there's a different, potentially successful tactic working against Notre Dame and other schools. A negative approach.
"We hear some of that business but I don't get involved in that," he said. "I don't talk about other schools, I just don't believe in it. Sometimes you come down the end and the kid mentions three schools and you tell the kid, 'You know what, they're all good choices. I think you'll be a great success at any one of those, good luck with your decision.'"
Back to the BackfieldNot one to offer comparisons between or among players, Diaco was nonetheless the recipient of a such a parallel when current Irish safeties coach and Diaco's former college coordinator Bob Elliott offered this of 5th-year safety Jamoris Slaughter.
"Jamoris is as smart a player as I've ever been around, anyplace," said Elliott, who added that Diaco, an Iowa Hawkeye's linebacker and All Big 10 selection in the mid-90s, was a standard on that list. "He' s on the same lines.
"The thing about Jamoris that I like is he understands the big picture," Elliott continued. "Some guys can memorize their assignments and know what to do: Jamoris has an idea of what everyone is doing, which makes him valuable on the field, the adjustments to other teams, he can switch gears and do something if Bob sees something out there that he wants to do against a certain set, Jamoris can execute it on the field just like that. Where it takes some other guys a week of practice to get it. Jamoris is very valuable in that respect because he thinks like a coach."
Said Diaco of Slaughter's renown versatility: "Absolutely, it's a great asset, but you know what, we don't have that luxury," he noted of the team's lack of a proven player at Slaughter's back line position.
"What position does he play? What's it called? That's right, 'Safety.' The safeties are responsible for the hopes and dreams of the team. Of South Bend, greater Michiana," Diaco added only half-joking.
Slaughter's acumen for Diaco's defense is reminiscent of the defensive backfield's leader of the last two seasons, current Minnesota Vikings safety, Harrison Smith.
"Harrison had a lot of that," said Diaco with emphasis. "If Harrison had any initial critique its that he's not really a demonstrative personality. He knew exactly what to say, and he said it. For different reasons, we're getting a similar level of driving the defense back there (with Slaughter), which is critical for us and how we conduct our business."