Not Popular Choice, But a Wise One

Notre Dame will announce George O'Leary as its new head coach Sunday afternoon and IrishEyes presents here an in-depth commentary on O'Leary from the "Dean of Notre Dame Recruiters," Chris Pool. Ironically, Bob Davie's first game as the permanent Irish head coach was versus O'Leary, and Pool was convinced that day that the Georgia Tech mentor would some day take the reins in South Bend. That day has come. IrishEyes will be covering the hiring press conference. Stay with us.


December 9, 2001


By Chris Pool
The News Service

NOTRE DAME, IN (IE) -- The anticipation is over. Notre Dame has its new head football coach and although he isn’t the fans number one choice, I think Kevin White made a great selection.

A news conference is scheduled for 4 p.m. at the Joyce Center Sunday afternoon. It won’t take the fans very long to warm up to George O’Leary. Coach O’Leary is the reason I’m in the recruiting business. He was my very first contact and I learned a lot from him and his staff about evaluating talent.

What can Notre Dame fans expect?

A coach that will embrace the Notre Dame tradition and everything the school stands for. A coach that is firm but fair with his players.

O’Leary demands a lot from his players but he’s also a players coach and best of all he’s a fantastic teacher and developer of talent. I’ve seen very few coaches work the practice field like he does.

Coach O’Leary is a winner. He was the defensive coordinator on Georgia Tech’s 1990 National Championship team. He’s been named coach of the year. He brought Georgia Tech from mediocrity in the mid 90’s back to national prominence in 2000.

George O’Leary is also an excellent recruiter. He’s one of the best closers in college football. O’Leary and his staff not only had to fight for recruits with in-state power, Georgia but they also fought Florida State, the rest of the ACC and most of the SEC for recruits.

Many of the current Notre Dame players were recruited by O’Leary and his staff. Nick Setta had Georgia Tech on his short list. So did Gary Godsey, Corey Mays, Jeff Faine, Sean Milligan and Dan Stevenson.

If O’Leary is named head coach, will he bring his staff with him?

I think it’s a safe bet that Coach O’Leary brings most of his staff with him. Offensively, Georgia Tech runs a wide-open attack and offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien has been on O’Leary’s staff since 1995.

O’Brien also serves as the Tech quarterbacks coach and he was responsible for the development of Joe Hamilton and George “Goose” Godsey.

Lance Thompson is one of the best recruiting coordinators in the business, David Kelly is a great (wide receivers) coach and he’s also a super recruiter. Defensive tackles coach, Peter McCarty was at Illinois two years ago, now he may be headed back to the Midwest.

Ted Roof is in his third season as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for Georgia Tech. Roof is a former Yellow Jacket great (linebacker) and was inducted into the Georgia Tech Hall of Fame in 1998.

Will George O’Leary retain any of the current Notre Dame staff?

Good question. Greg Mattison is one of the best recruiters and defensive minds in the business. The Fighting Irish defense did look sluggish at times but there were also times when they looked fantastic.

Another great hire would be the re-hiring of recruiting coordinator, Bob Chmiel. I don’t know if Chmiel would be interested because he was wronged at Notre Dame.

Chmiel was personally responsible for most of the recruits that played at Notre Dame under Lou Holtz and he was loved by his players. Why Bob Davie got rid of Chmiel, I’ll never know. Guess we’ll have to wait for the book to come out.

What I do know is that Chmiel was a great recruiter and he was very well liked and respected by hundreds of high school coaches, especially in the Midwest.

Chmiel is a Chicago guy. A blue-collar man that high school coaches in Chicago, Ohio and Western Pennsylvania could relate too.

If George O’Leary is named the next head football coach at Notre Dame, you’ll see the bounce back in the step of players, the students, the alumni and the fans.

You’ll see a tough football team and an exciting football team on the field. You’ll see a team that will spread the field with four wide receivers and run the ball between the tackles. The running backs and wide receivers that O’Leary and his staff have developed are endless.

You’ll see players being taught and developed. You’ll see coaches preparing for games and making adjustments on the fly.

Most of all you’ll see an Irish coach from the East Coast, embrace Notre Dame and all that it stands for. I don’t think you’ll hear any references to his former employer.

Georgia Tech is one of the best schools in the free world. O’Leary had to recruit student-athletes at Tech and he’ll do the same at Notre Dame. The difference is that he’ll win doing it – he better or else! Top Stories