Kyle McCarthy called in January, asking Maurice Crum if he’d be interested.
The two-time Notre Dame captain didn’t really understand the question. With his time at the University of Kansas done following the firing of Charlie Weis, Crum needed work and wanted it to be in football. He weighed a move to Houston, the hometown of his wife Crysta Swayzer Crum, a former Notre Dame sprinter. But that probably meant a real job and high school coaching on the side.
McCarthy, then on the verge of leaving coaching to join a sports agency, offered something better. He wanted to recommend his former teammate to replace him as a graduate assistant.
So yeah, Crum was interested.
“Absolutely Kyle, why wouldn’t I be?” Crum said. “It’s awesome. Obviously my love for this place will never change. But being here with this group of guys and being in a capacity where I can still be involved in the game, still be around the guys, for me is a phenomenal experience.”
This summer Crum’s wife and two kids – five-year old Maurice III and one-year old Allen Xavier – will join their dad here fulltime. They spent a week on campus this spring to run around the Gug and see their dad’s locker, probably getting a clue why their parents keep talking about Notre Dame.
“At some point in time they’ll realize this is a special place and why this place means so much to mom and dad,” Crum said. “I’m happy to be back and (my wife) is over the top happy to be back. We met here, we’ve got a lot of fond memories.”
Professionally, Crum couldn’t ask for better after three years and three jobs under Weis. He arrived in Lawrence as a graduate assistant, moved to assistant director of operations and then to director of high school relations. Crum, who’s working with the Irish safeties and assisting defensive backs coach Todd Lyght, believes this will be the first true step of his college coaching career.
“This place is gonna propel me forward,” Crum said. “I truly believe the opportunities I have here are just going to promote me further and allow me to grow.”
Crum leaves the schematics to defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder, who’s tasked the former Irish linebacker as much with being a hype coach as teaching techniques to Elijah Shumate and Max Redfield.
“The biggest thing right now with both him and coach Lyght is their excitement,” VanGorder said. “They really like the kids and coaching the kids.
“It’s a whole new learning curve for even coaches, but (Crum’s) commitment to it all is really outstanding. I feel that. I know the players feel that too.”
Crum plays more on his experience as a Notre Dame student-athlete with the current roster than reliving two starts in BCS bowls or when he forced five turnovers in a single game at UCLA. Crum finished his career as a four-year starter and departed with the program record for career starts, now owned by Zack Martin.
“I sat in literally these same seats (in the Gug),” Crum said. “Hearing it coming from me, it’s different coming from me. I try to use that and let them know that I’m here for you guys.”
Considering the recommendation from McCarthy got Crum into Brian Kelly’s office for an interview, McCarthy’s sway with the current roster should help Crum gain early credibility. Notre Dame’s starting safeties have been advertised as some of spring ball’s biggest movers.
“Kyle did a great job with the safeties last year, I’m just kind of building off of what he’s done,” Crum said. “He called the guys and just tried to speak me up. Listen to Mo, he knows what he’s talking about.
“I always say I’ll give Kyle the $50 later.”