Randy Hart Press Conference Transcript

Randy Hart, the new defensive line coach for the Irish, met with the media Monday afternoon. A 39-year coaching veteran, Hart has coached at five other schools in his career: Washington, Ohio State, Purdue, Iowa State, and Tampa.

Coach Hart impressed the media with his enthusiasm for the Irish and football in general. It could be an interesting spring for the defensive line. Coach Hart began the session with the following statement:

"You are looking at a very lucky man. I am tremendously happy to be here and excited to be a part of Notre Dame football and, obviously, the name of the game is to win. So we want to sharpen our swords and do as good as we can to getting the guys to our way of thinking - effort, intensity and attack - getting ourselves up the field and getting after some people, I hope, and hopefully bringing victories to Notre Dame. It is going to be a fun time. With that if you have any questions."

Randy, what assets do you bring to the table?

"I hope we can out-work people. I'm not real smart so I have grown accustomed to that, certainly, being labeled at an early age. So as a result, I would like to work. We want to out-work as many folks as we can and certainly out-play them. There is always more in the tank than most players will give. So as a result, we want to try and let them learn a little about themselves and let them figure out that there is more in that tank. They have got to give the effort; they have to get up and get after them; and I will say probably 10,000 times the first week of spring practice to get us going. It is an exciting game and there is no greater game than the game of football. It's 22 guys at one time going out there; it's organized chaos; to be the most excited 11 people is the most fun. So we are looking forward to getting out there and having fun doing it."

How much influence did Woody Hayes and Earl Bruce have on you?

"That's probably where it came from originally. I had the pleasure of working for Coach Hayes. He too felt that you could work, and as a result, the toughest aspect is the idea of executing a plan; having the plan first off and executing it with precision is what we want to get done. It's not a complicated game. Defensive football is strike, disengage, pursue, and tackle. No matter if you play a 3-4 or 4-3 or whatever defense you are playing, if your guys will strike a blow, get off the block and pursue the football and tackle, you are going to win. So let's not make it complicated. They didn't make it complicated, certainly, and we could be a success. Now on the other side of that, I would like to think that we are in college football, okay. So to be a part of getting a degree and being a part of them growing up and showing them how to grow up and being sort of a mentor or role model or whatever; you might think whatever corny cliché we can think about or state; I think that is part of it too. To come to school and watch the excitement of Notre Dame football certainly is also the academics. When they leave here they will leave with a degree. They will be a football player at one of the greatest institutions in America. How can you lose? That's exciting. That's exciting to me because so much of what we do is just not x's and o's football, but it's working with the kids. That's why you do it, certainly."

Charlie stated that he would like to have Bryant Young become a defensive coach. How do you see your role in this?

"I am looking forward to it. Again, a guy like Bryant Young, and I have to preface it by telling you one of my former players, Steve Emtman - who was a good college football player who did not have the success in the pros that he thought he could have in the pros probably because his body broke down a little bit - when I talked with Steve about coming with Bryant, he told me, ‘Coach, not only are you going to coach with the best player I have ever been around but the best person I have ever been around.' So first off, if you know Steve, there is no better player or person than him. So it was the first time in my life that he admitted that there was someone better than him. To work with Bryant is going to be exciting. Coaching needs people like Bryant Young. That's the excitement of being with him and, certainly, just being around him the limited time we have had I am excited for him and I am excited for me. Because with every bit of information I could possibly give him, I am going to get more out of him, I guarantee you, than I'm probably going to give him. So I'm excited as it is going to be a fun thing and to this point it has been and I expect it is going to continue. He has tremendous insight as to what made him a good player, and as a result, if we can get him the x and o part and the other side of coaching other than the on-the-field stuff, then it is going to be fun."

Could you tell us a little bit of your hiring process?

"First of all, I was available (laughing). Being an old guy, when the dynamics changed of Bryant coming on board, I think the dynamics changed a little bit. He wasn't looking for the youngster that would run around and get a little enthusiasm going and have some knowledge and coach the game. Certainly Coach Crennel was involved there a little bit and when he decided he was going in a different direction, it opened the door for Randy and as the result, I am the lucky man. Without a doubt, I am the lucky man because I think I can bring not only a little bit of knowledge, a little bit of experience to the game, but a little bit of enthusiasm as well. It's a great opportunity for me."

Did you know Coach Weis before this hiring process?

"Only discussions at a few of the combines; the combines out west I have seen him before, certainly, but no real close contact. No sir, I was tremendously honored."

Have you had a chance to watch some tape of the defensive lines and, if so, what are your opinions?

"I see some guys that we have to get to grow up. We are some young players. We are some young guys out there that we just have to keep working and get ourselves tuned up to the point where we can go harder. We understand that we have had some good experience and, again, to put as young a player that we put on the field last year with mixed results is expected. If you think you're going to come out of high school football and become instant starters as a freshman and at an in-line position; that is hard. We had Ethan Johnson do that last year, here, which is pretty exciting to be as young as he was and to even have sat out his senior year in football. I thought he did a remarkable job. I don't ever want to name only just one person but the rest of the guys were on the field. I'm excited to coach them because I think there is some ability here and I think there are some guys who want to be good and there are some guys who have the experience that will now allow them to draw on past experiences and hopefully we can show them the way and get them to where we are an aggressive and attacking, strong, up-front which is what we want to be."

You spent 21 years at Washington. Did you think that would be your last stop?

"In coaching, no (laughing). You are as good as your last stop, certainly, and you are always wanting to be better and, as a result, you never know that. Opportunities come along and, at my age, retirement was not an option. I had to do something and I think it was Marv Levy that said, ‘When it's time that you shouldn't be coaching anymore, you'll know.' I don't know that right now. I'm excited to be a part of it and excited to go."

You seem to have a couple doses of extra energy. Is that a good statement?

"I would hope so. And again, why not, it's football. If you can't get excited about playing this game, there's something wrong with you. There's something wrong with you; don't do it. Don't do it if you can't get excited and go. And I'm talking practice because you are going to play like you practice. So don't go out there and lollygag around practice because it will come out in the game that you are a lollygagger. So whatever the tempo of practice will be the tempo we play in. That's certainly our job as coaches to kick it up and go."

What are you like on game day?

"I possibly think I'm a ready, fire, aim guy. We had better have drilled ourselves well enough so that we know what to do on game day because in the excitement of the game, it's the guy that gives the greatest effort that's been trained the best and can rely on instinct, not always on thought. In a game, you have to go on what you know to get the job done. So every now and then, we are going to be excited and if we make a mistake, and if it is an aggressive mistake, we can live with it. If you gave me a choice of being lethargic and always right or ready, fire, aim, and make something happen, we're going to try and make something happen. That will probably be good and bad, I suppose."

Have you had past dealings with Coach Tenuta and Coach Brown?

"Yes, I have and when I've been around them, I've enjoyed them. Certainly Corwin, as a player, more than as a coach. I've admired his family. His father-in-law is in coaching and, knowing what I know about his family and him, I'm excited to work with him. Jon Tenuta is a guy I'm excited to work with too. I've observed him at other places he has been; his defenses have always been exciting. They've always been attacking. They've always been physical and that excites me and that is what we want to get to. So I think our philosophy of the three guys that we are working with right now, along with Bryant (Young), I believe are going to mesh quite nicely and I'm excited to be a part of it."

You've run the full gamut of 12-0 season and 0-12 season, how do you manage to keep your enthusiasm so high?

"The good things are going to happen. I could probably draw an analogy to the market. The market isn't always up (laughing). So as a result, you are not always going to be on top. I think you learn to appreciate being on top when you get kicked in the pants every now and then and put down. When you're in the game as long as I have been, to expect that I would be on top the entire time, that's not going to happen. So now the name of the game is, you are where you are. So you make it the best you can be and get back on top. Again, as I look at some of the coaches, such as Coach Paterno, people thought he was dead and buried four years ago and I watched him in the Rose Bowl this last year. I believe if you are a good coach, a good coach will come out and show. I think you can do that but I don't think you are always going to be on top because this is a great game of people studying you. They're going to have answers for what you have done and if you think you are always going to be on top, you are getting closer and closer to your butt hitting the floor. So as a result, we are excited to be where we are and certainly looking up."

What was your experience like working with Coach Willingham?

"I've been blessed with all the head coaches I've worked with. Tyrone brought integrity. He was what the program needed at the time. I've learned from every head coach that I've worked with and I would never venture to say anything negative about any of them. I have been very, very fortunate. Four of them have been Hall of Famers and they are guys that I have learned from. They don't give head coaching jobs away. To be a head coach at a Division IA or a bowl subdivision or whatever we call it, is a heck of an honor. If you think you are going to be sharper than some of those guys, that's not the way it's going to be. Again, I'll say I enjoyed working with him tremendously and I think I learned a few things from him."

Have you had head-coaching aspirations?

"In my younger days, I did, but I think I'm too much off the handle now and then. I wouldn't be able to handle every day working with you all like this (laughing). I tend to be ready, fire, aim, as I said. And the patience it takes as a head coach to deal with as many things as they have to deal with at this point in time as the game has evolved in societal issues and problems and good things and bad things, I think I'm better off being a position coach."

Can you talk about recruiting and what you like about it?

"Recruiting is fun and an exciting thing because you are working with 18-23 year-old guys. You are working with guys who aren't even 18 yet. They are guys who are formulating their persona on who they are going to be. To be a part of that is exciting and to be a part of that every year, I have not aged. I am 24 years old as you can tell. Because everyone I work with is 18-23, so working with the youngsters and recruits and being a part of their lives and their decisions is fun. The idea of being a coach, you show the institution you represent and, if it is right for that person, he is going to come. He'll see it and he will come and it will be his decision which makes for a happy marriage down the road. If I would try to sell a player something and he gets here and it's not what I sold him, then all of a sudden we may have a problem if you said, this is going to happen and it didn't happen. I would rather show him the product which is the exciting thing about being here. To be a part of this is a good thing which is going to be a life-long asset to whatever they do. So it's a good thing. Again, eliminating barriers, recruiting is eliminating barriers. The idea of what do you want, son, and if we can eliminate that barrier, then this is going to be the place for him. It's exciting, you're always meeting new people; it's a challenge; and it's competing; and when you are our age, that's how you compete sometimes. So it's fun."

How do you keep in tune with the young guys and how they think?

"You talk to them, just like when you talk to your kids. When has communication ever been a problem? If we would all talk more and listen to what the kids have to say: A) You can challenge their thoughts and make them think more in the direction you want them to think; or open their minds to the direction we want them to think; or you can possible learn something yourself. That's the other thing, what makes them tick and sometimes you can find out by talking to them. I can't sit there and say, this is the way we're going to do it unless it might be a proven technique that we might want to use. If it is something philosophical to get them to be a better player, then I'm going to listen; that's critical. The idea of being old-school is not bad, but old-school that listens is better."

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