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New assistants bring experience, specialty

Justin Schuver | Thursday, January 13, 2005

Even with his current team trying to win its third Super Bowl in four years, new Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis has done his homework in assembling a new coaching staff for the 2005 season.Weis’ staff includes former head coaches like quarterbacks coach David Cutcliffe, Notre Dame alumni like offensive coordinator/running backs coach Michael Haywood and even current NFL assistants like defensive backs coach Bill Lewis.”Well, the first thing I wanted to do, I wanted some people with Notre Dame ties as part of the staff,” Weis said at a press conference Jan. 9. “I thought that that was one thing coming in.”When I was assembling the staff, I wanted to find a few people at least with Notre Dame ties … [that] was one of the premises, one of the foundations of my thought process.”Another important factor in Weis’ choice of his staff was to balance the new group of coaches between two key strengths – knowledge of fundamentals of the game and recruiting. Haywood, who comes to Weis’ staff after spending the 2004 season on the staff of Texas coach Mack Brown, is one such highly touted recruiter.”I wanted to go out there and find the guys who had the best foundations in recruiting, and at the same time I wanted to find the guys who I respect the most with X’s and O’s,” he said. “And I think I was fortunate enough to come up with a nice combination of the two.”The members of Weis’ new staff are Cutcliffe, Haywood, Lewis, receivers coach/recruiting coordinator Rob Ianello, offensive line coach John Latina, defensive coordinator/ linebackers coach Rick Minter, defensive line coach Jappy Oliver, tight ends/special teams coach Bernie Parmalee and assistant defensive backs/special teams coach Brian Polian.Cutcliffe was fired as the head coach of Ole Miss following a 4-7 record this season. In his six years at Ole Miss, Cutcliffe amassed a 44-29 record including a 10-3 mark in the 2003 season. Prior to his time at Ole Miss, Cutcliffe served as offensive coordinator for Tennessee’s 1998 undefeated national championship team.Cutcliffe has helped coach several players who have gone on to succeed in the NFL, including this year’s MVP Peyton Manning (Tennessee), Giants quarterback Eli Manning (Ole Miss) and Saints running back Deuce McAllister (Ole Miss).”Dave Cutcliffe, who can argue with his past success? I mean, his successes with the Mannings alone, both at Tennessee and at Ole Miss,” Weis said. “I mean, when you get … guys with that ability to come and join your staff, if you don’t get them, then you’re the one making the mistake by not trying to get them.”Latina, who served as Cut-cliffe’s offensive coordinator all six years at Ole Miss, will join Cutcliffe on Weis’ Notre Dame staff.Minter is another member of Weis’ staff with previous ties to Notre Dame, after spending the 1992 and 1993 seasons as defensive coordinator under Lou Holtz. In 1994 he was hired as head coach at the University of Cincinnati and held that job until 2003. In 2004, Minter again served as a defensive coordinator for Holtz, this time at South Carolina.In 1992, Minter’s defense was the fourth best nationally against the run, and three of his players earned all-America honors – free safety Jeff Burris, cornerback Bobby Taylor and tackle Bryant Young.Haywood, a four-year letter-winner at Notre Dame (1982, 1984-86), has served as running backs coach and co-special teams coordinator at Texas since the 2003 season. In 2004, he was promoted to recruiting coordinator.Under Haywood’s tenure as an assistant coach at LSU prior to leaving for Texas, he helped coach LaBrandon Toefield and Domanick Davis into third round NFL draft picks. Davis is currently the starting running back for the Houston Texans.Current Texas running back Cedric Benson, who Haywood also coached, is almost guaranteed to be a high draft pick.”What I found with Mike Haywood and Rick Minter, who happen to be the coordinators, you bring in a head coach with Notre Dame ties, an offensive coordinator with Notre Dame ties, and a defensive coordinator with Notre Dame ties, I think you’re on the right track to get going,” Weis said.Lewis has been the defensive nickel package coach for the NFL’s Miami Dolphins since 1996. Under Lewis’ guidance, the Dolphins have finished in the top eight of passing defense six of the last seven seasons, including a second-overall ranking in 2004 at 162 yards per game.Parmalee will also move to Notre Dame’s staff from the Dolphins, where he was the team’s tight ends coach in 2004.Ianello has served the past two years as tight ends coach at Wisconsin following nine years at Arizona. In 1998, with Ianello as offensive coordinator, Arizona finished with a 12-1 record and finished the season ranked No. 4 in the nation.Oliver will join Notre Dame’s staff after leaving South Carolina, where he served as defensive line coach for the Gamecocks the past two seasons.Polian is one of the youngest members of Weis’ staff, with only eight years collegiate experience.Polian served as running backs coach/recruiting coordinator at Central Florida in 2004 under George O’Leary.