Tony Alford did not wait long to get started at his new job as running backs coach at Notre Dame.
"I took the job on Monday, the 19th. I got here at 10:30 AM, I was on a flight at 6 going to Los Angeles to meet with some guys," said Alford. "Then I had to go all the way to Newark [N.J.] to go see Theo [Riddick]."
Alford has coached at five different schools but none of his travels through college football brought him to South Bend before his current opportunity. Alford had heard plenty of positive things about Notre Dame and he has not been disappointed thus far.
"This is a first class institution," Alford said. "The importance of everything, academics. Just the way they handle their business."
Alford's first job was to help Charlie Weis and his staff wrap up the 2009 recruiting class and he noticed an immediate difference when recruiting for the Fighting Irish.
"There's instantaneous respect when you walk in and say, ‘I'm with Notre Dame,'" he said. "That part of it is fun, but you still have to grind and do the work."
Alford believes that you have to be honest when dealing with the futures of young men.
"I'm going to talk to those recruits as I would talk to my own child," he said. "‘What are you looking for? Does this fit what you want? Does this fit what your goals that you've set for yourself or that your family has set for you? Does Notre Dame fit?'
"I am not afraid to tell a young guy that this is how it's going to be. ‘We're going to push you academically. We're going to push you to do the right thing socially. We're going to push you to be the best you can be. We're not going to cut corners and cut edges. And if that doesn't fit for you then you don't need to come here and play for me."
Alford's coaching style is just like his recruiting style.
"I am demanding and I will be demanding, that's the only way I know it," he said. "But at the same time I think I'm very fair."
Alford has had a number of coaching influences throughout his years in college football and like any good assistant he has taken some from each of them, including Larry Kehres.
"The success he's had at Mount Union is unparalleled. He's very different, as far as his demeanor is very low key. I think I maybe heard him raise his voice once the whole time I worked with him," Alford said before laughing. "That's not me though."
Alford played under Earle Bruce at Colorado State.
"There's some things that Coach Bruce did as a coach that there is no way I'd do, now there are other things that I hang my hat on," Alford said. "There's been a lot of guys who have influenced me in a lot of different ways."
Alford does not agree with all philosophies.
"There's an old adage, people say, ‘You treat everybody the same.' I don't think you treat everybody the same," he said. "I don't think I could treat my three sons all the same. I can treat them all fairly, but everybody reacts to something different."
Alford takes it upon himself to figure out the best way to treat his players.
"That's my job as a coach and I've got to do that very quickly," he said. "I've got to figure out what makes Jonas Gray go. It might not be the same thing that makes Steve Paskorz go. I've had guys that I've coached I've had to put my arm around them and coddle them and talk to them versus other guys I had to hit them with a two by four.
"It's not their job to tell me what makes them go, it's my job to figure out who they are."
Alford has worked in systems that feature multiple backs and one-back systems.
"I've been in different situations," Alford said. "It's all really just predicated on game situation, who does what, who does what well at certain times and what's going to make us more productive. If it's more productive for us to use back-by-committee if you will, then that's what we'll do."
Alford plans on discussing the running game as a staff with Weis and run game coordinator Frank Verducci.
"I'm going to come in here and work within the staff, within the structure of what we do," he said. "The one thing I'm looking for from the players is just to compete everyday, to compete at a very high level. They have to take pride in what they do and that means all facets.
"Guys that obviously can catch the ball out of the backfield, can run obviously, and guys that are going to do a great job of blocking and take pride in their entire game."