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Football: New boss, new job? No problem

LAURA MYERS | Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tony Alford may have a different post on the new Notre Dame staff, but some things will never change.
“I’m going to yell at [Armando Allen] every day,” he said. “Armando will never get too far away.”
Alford, the only constant from the staff of former coach Charlie Weis, has spent all 15 years of his coaching career teaching running backs. However, he will move to wide receivers coach this season.
“When you take a coach that’s only coached that position, he becomes almost a specialist in one area,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said at a press conference Friday. “I don’t want specialists. I want great teachers and great educators that can communicate across the board.”
Alford admitted that he will have some studying to do in order to make a successful switch. However, he said his approach is no different from before.
“You roll your sleeves up and you go to work,” he said. “I like to pride myself and think I’m a good teacher. I want to lead the men the right way. At the end of the day it still comes out to working hard, putting in a good day’s work.”
Weis hired Alford as running backs coach in 2009 after he had spent two years in that position at Louisville. Before that, he had also coached running backs at Iowa State, Washington, Kent State and Mount Union.
The Kent, Ohio, native had a previous relationship with Kelly when one of Alford’s relatives played for Kelly at Grand Valley State. Thus, he said, it was easy for him to agree to stay at Notre Dame.
“When [Kelly] got the job, he gave me a call and said are you interested in staying, and of course I said yes,” Alford said.
He said he thinks his relationship with the current players will help as the new staff begins its work.
“I think that will bode well as far as the players knowing who I am, as far as expectations,” he said. “For the most part it’s just about having a previous relationship with the players already in place and kind of going from there.”
The decision to switch to coaching wide receivers was more difficult than the decision to stay with the Irish, Alford said. But he believed it to be the right one for himself and for the team.
“I didn’t know what to say [when Kelly asked],” Alford said. “I thought it over, talked to some people who are very close to me … and I think it’s in my best interest. Professionally and selfishly, I think it’s a good move. It will expand my knowledge base and résumé, if you will, for the things I want to accomplish in my career.
“At the same time, I believe that if Coach Kelly didn’t believe this would be in the best interest of the football team, he wouldn’t do it.”
In his time at Notre Dame Alford has also had a hand in recruiting, something Kelly emphasized as one of Alford’s strengths.
For the Class of 2010, he has recruited four-star running back commitment Giovanni Bernard, four-star defensive tackle commitment Louis Nix and four-star wide receiver and early enrollee Tai-ler Jones, among others.
“He understands what it takes from my end to recruit,” Kelly said. “He’s a tireless recruiter, outstanding in the homes … he does a terrific job.”
Though Alford is excited about the amount of talent he will have to work with when he begins coaching the wide receivers, he said he has not looked far ahead.
“I’ve been busy recruiting, and trying to finalize this class,” he said. “That’s kind of been the focus at this juncture.”
However, he said he already knows his main responsibility to star receiver Michael Floyd.
“Just don’t screw him up,” he said.