Wanting More

When Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis introduced Randy Hart as the new defensive line coach earlier this month, he said that he wanted someone with a "high-energy" personality. In terms of this trait, Weis couldn't have asked for any more in the former Washington Husky position coach.

Within minutes of meeting coach Hart, his vibrant temperament becomes instantly noticeable. Through the course of a normal conversation, Hart speaks at a mile per minute, but it is his coaching habits that those in the Notre Dame program are more concerned with. Fortunately for the Irish, Hart's enthusiasm is accentuated on the football field and his players are starting to notice too.

"He's a cool dude," were the first words Ian Williams used to describe his new position coach. "It's a total 180-degree change from coach Jappy [Oliver], but he's getting us ready, working hard, everyday and we've learned so much from him in just four or five days in practice."

When asked what specific features Hart brought to the program that was lacking in past years, the sophomore defensive tackle cited speed as the overarching element.

"It's just a lot more up-tempo," Williams said of the differences between Oliver and Hart. "We're just learning a lot more and it's more fast-paced."

Hart comes in as a veteran that is thoroughly experienced in the intricacies of the defensive line, having coached the position for 21 years at Washington. Now that he is a member of the Irish staff, coach he is bringing this electric work ethic with him to the program.

"Fast," was the word that erupted out of Hart's mouth when asked of his preferred tempo. "It's critical. You play the way you practice. So if you want to play with tempo, you've got to practice with tempo."

It's this fast tempo that Williams is starting to note in practice with regards to the method in which Hart motivates and animates his players. In fact, the defensive tackle feels that his energetic demeanor is starting to spread.

"Yeah it is," the sophomore said as to the infectiousness of Hart's personality. "After a play, if I'm 20 yards down the field, I'll turn around and he's there in my face with five or 10 coaching points. Just things like that show me that he actually cares, and he's with us and he's going to make us better."

Looking for words to describe the style of the defensive line play this season and into the fall, one of Hart's other promising young players is starting to take note of the aggressive, quick nature of Hart's philosophy as well.

"Attack, attack, attack," Ethan Johnson labeled as his coach's defensive philosophy. "I think we're going to be in the backfield a lot more, than we were last year. I'm excited. I think we'll get some sacks right away this year rather than a couple games down the road, and come out and really get going."

To inspire his players, however, Hart refuses to use overtly negative and demeaning behavior when coaching collegiate athletes. He feels that when necessary, mistakes are instances upon which corrections can be made.

"Kids are, I don't want to say they're different, but negativism doesn't get them going sometimes," he said. "Now there are sometimes when we're going to have to do correcting, probably. You set the demands out there, you try to get them to do what they've got to do and if you can get them to get it done, then that's great."

It's because of this philosophy that coach Hart's integration into the program and his relationships with his players have gone without problems thus far this spring. Johnson, who figures to be an integral part in the Irish defense next season, acknowledged Hart's positive philosophy, while admitting that he can be firm when applicable.

"Yes, he does, definitely," Ethan Johnson said. "He pats you on the back when you need it, but he'll kick you in the butt when you need it too."

Hart has always had this kind of energy and dedication to the sport of football, dating back to his days as a player for Ohio State as and offensive lineman during the height of respected coaching legend Woody Hayes' days as a Buckeye. In fact, Hart was a member of the 1969 national champion squad, only to become a graduate assistant under Hayes following his graduation. Recollecting back to his Buckeye days, Hart hopes that his tenure under Hayes has taught him to be a better instructor of the sport.

"I've got to tell you, that coach Hayes was not what he appeared to be," Hart said. "Coach Hayes was a good teacher. I hope I learned something from him as far as how to teach. The reinforcement of standards, the being positive — if there's a problem, we're going to fix it. No player wants to go out there and fail. I've never coached a player that wants to leave the bench and fail, so you've got to figure a way to make them successful and that's coaching."

In terms of the preservation of his demands and standards, Hart has clearly established his primary goal as the increase in the velocity of the defensive line's play during spring practices. The realization of this aim, however, won't be complete for another several months until Notre Dame is competing with the best programs in the nation, according to the new coach.

"Oh we are what we are," he said. "You're satisfied in January, once you've won 13 games, then we've reached the tempo we want. Until then we've not reached the tempo we want, so we want more."

When asked to specify exactly what he wanted out of his players this spring, all Randy Hart wants is more.

"More," he said. "More everything. More pressure. More plays. More run to the football. More excitement. More enthusiasm. More having fun. More of everything."

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