Ianello Understands Hard Work

If Notre Dame is going to get back to the top of college football, it's going to take effort. It will take a lot of effort on the field, and it's going to take a lot of effort on the recruiting trail. New Irish coach Rob Ianello is wearing two hats in his first season at Notre Dame, and it will be Ianello's job to organize the first real recruiting campaign under Charlie Weis. Irish Eyes spoke with Ianello on Tuesday to talk a little recruiting.

"We're just trying to be really organized," said Rob Ianello when asked how he's changed Notre Dame's recruiting campaign so far. "We have Ron Powlus; we have Dave Peloquin, we have a recruiting secretary, we have a lot of people on the administrative end of this.

"We have set up a comprehensive flow of information from the office to the coaches and from the coaches to the office. We're just trying to be really organized in everything we do. Whether it's our mailings, our contacts to high schools, our letter campaign, kids coming to campus—that's the first and foremost thing we want to do here."

So far the results have been impressive. Ianello appears to have hit the ground running, and the Irish appear to be on the minds of many top recruiting targets already this season.

"Coach Weis is aggressive and we're going to follow his lead," Ianello said. "In today's day and time in recruiting you have to be aggressive. You still have to be thorough in everything you do from academic evaluation to character evaluation, but if we feel like we have match, we'll pursue it very hard."

It also appears that some new positions have been added to help in the administrative end of recruiting.

"Coach Weis has been able to have a real good setup administratively for recruiting. (Notre Dame athletic director) Kevin White has allowed him to do that, and that's coach's philosophy to have everyone to have defined responsibilities that they're going to oversee," Ianello said.

"There is an incredible amount of information that comes here to Notre Dame so you have got to be able to process it all. Processing the information and making sure it gets out to the right people, staying organized, and having some key people in our administrative roles that deal with young men when they come on campus are critical. We should be in good shape with it."

Ianello says he's comfortable in his dual role as both wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator, and that he has a lot of experience wearing two hats as a coach.

"Everywhere I've been I've been recruiting coordinator and coached a position for the most part except for my first year at Wisconsin," Ianello said. "It's not new to me to have two responsibilities. I do take the recruiting part of it very seriously, and I appreciate the trust the head coach gives me to oversee that.

"I want to provide a leadership to our staff, direction to our staff, and I think that's one of the things that coach Weis hopes that I'll bring to the staff, and I'm going to work hard to do that.

We asked Ianello what he thought makes a person effective on the recruiting trail.

"Recruiting is about effort. Recruiting is about relationships. Recruiting is about evaluation," Ianello said. "Whether you're recruiting a top five guy or not, it comes down to whether he fits your situation and academic standpoint and character standpoint.

"I do believe that with recruiting you have to cover your tracks. You've got to make your calls. You've got to hit the high schools. You've got to be visible, and you've got to develop relationships with families and players. It's just hard work."

The previous staff took their time offering top prospects, frustrating Irish fans. We asked Ianello if the focus was to be more aggressive on the recruiting trail, and that we might see more early commitments in the future.

"We're just looking at how we're doing things," Ianello said. "Our process of doing things is to evaluate a young man from an ability, character and academic standpoint. If we feel that he's what we're looking for before his senior year in high school, and he's a good fit, then we're willing to tender a scholarship offer.

"We're also in full cooperation with admissions to make sure we're on the same page. We're not worried about anybody's timetable but ours, but if we do find some guys, we'll certainly offer them."

Ianello came to Notre Dame after spending the last decade coaching at Arizona and Wisconsin. We asked Ianello why he decided to join the Irish staff.

"Notre Dame has always been attractive to me," he said. "So when this opportunity came forth, the idea of coming to Notre Dame at this time, and to be on the front end with coach Weis, and hopefully to be part of the group that helps take it back to it's rightful place in college football was very attractive to me.

"From a personal perspective it was difficult to leave Wisconsin because of my relationship with coach Alvarez, and because at that time my wife was still coaching.

"We're certainly glad we made it as a family, and we're excited to be here."

Ianello's wife, Denise, was an assistant on the Badger's women's basketball team and was known as quite a recruiter herself.

"My wife's resume' is stronger than my resume'. I am definitely the second best recruiter in the house," Ianello said. But it was a family decision because at some point we wanted to have another child, which we hope to do while we're here. At one point we felt we'd be a one-coach family and this gave us that opportunity to do that."

As for Ianello's other responsibility—wide receivers coach—he says he's excited about the talent he has to work with.

"We're just looking for what compliments our offense the best—the best player," said Ianello, who will be entering his 19th season as a college coach. "I haven't worked with these guys in practice so I haven't worked with them on the field, except for drills during our off-season program so I can't really gauge.

"I'm happy with how the group works with their drills, and I'm happy with their effort and their attitude. From that standpoint it gives us a great start."

What kid of coach is Ianello?

"I think that first and foremost a player would say I communicate and that I will communicate with my players," Ianello said. "I'm not a yeller or screamer, but I describe myself as a competitor, and I want the players that I'm coaching to compete."

The Port Chester, N.Y. native says there's a lot of excitement around the football office these days as the new Irish coaching staff is very much looking forward to spring practice.

"There's a lot of excitement and a lot of energy about getting ready to start practice," he said. "Every day is a little closer so there's definitely a lot of enthusiasm. There's definitely no shortage of enthusiasm to get started to working with our players. We're all very excited about it."

A little side note for Irish fans: Ianello called me from his office at 9 pm. This is the type of effort the Irish will need to get back to the top. So much for the off-season….

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