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JOHN LATINA: Western Pa. native always has been fond of the Irish

Kate Gales | Friday, April 22, 2005

He may not have attended Notre Dame, but John Latina has always had a special place for the school in his heart.

The offensive line coach is a native of western Penn-sylvania and grew up surrounded by everything Irish.

“I grew up in western Pennsyl-vania, an hour north of Pittsburgh, big Notre Dame fan base,” he said. “Growing up as a kid, it’s one of those schools that you’re just enamored with – I loved it. It’s been deep-rooted.”

Latina graduated from Virginia Tech in 1981, where he started for four years on the offensive line. After he graduated, he joined the coaching staff there and also spent a year as an assistant at Pittsburgh before being named offensive line coach at Temple.

In 1989, Latina joined the staff at Kansas State as the offensive line coach. He also worked as the running game coordinator, but left in 1994 to work with Clemson.

Latina’s last six years were spent at Ole Miss, where he worked under then-head coach David Cutcliffe. Cutcliffe was named the assistant head coach for offense and the quarterbacks coach on coach Charlie Weis’ staff at Notre Dame.

The off-season and transition to life at Notre Dame has been a busy time for Latina and his new co-workers.

“It’s been fun,” Latina said. “Anytime you go into a new place, new environment, there’s a lot of things you have to do, it’s been long hours but it’s been fun too. It’s been a great experience.”

Aside from getting to know the players, Latina has had a chance to build relationships with other staff members.

“Coaching is somewhat of a fraternity,” he said. “I obviously knew David Cutcliffe and worked for him but I didn’t know the rest of the staff. But everybody on our staff, I know people who know them very well. Great friends of mine have worked with Bernie Parmalee or Rick Minter or so forth. So you have a tendency to gel as a staff a lot quicker than people think.”

With a new staff in place and a number of veterans returning on the offensive line, Latina is ready to rebuild the Irish football program with Weis.

“[Given his] expertise and what he’s accomplished in his career as an offensive coordinator, I was excited about learning that offense and about being a part of a new beginning at Notre Dame,” Latina said.