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Diaco leads Irish defense with relentless energy

Andrew Owens | Sunday, January 6, 2013

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – It’s January and Bob Diaco’s top-ranked defense is preparing for the national championship game. After Monday night, the focus will be on recruiting leading up to Feb. 6. Shortly after, spring practice will consume his time.

Notre Dame’s energetic defensive coordinator – one of the hottest names in the industry today – lives a life almost totally consumed by football.

Off the gridiron, he has two passions: cooking and fishing. It’s just been a while since he’s been able to dabble in those loves.

“It’s probably been since July since I’ve fished,” he said. “My buddy lives in Edwardsburg, Mich., (near South Bend) and there are a couple of spots out there I’ll drop a line at.”

Diaco said he loves to cook anything and everything – when he has the time.

“It’s not like I’m just okay at cooking,” he said. “I love to cook. I love the whole process. I can think of a lot of good things I can cook. If I’m going to have a party, I’m cooking.”

To determine which of his culinary creations sits atop the list, he had to ask cornerbacks coach Kerry Cooks.

“Oh, it’s definitely the vodka pasta,” Cooks said.

Diaco pours his heart into every endeavor and is committed to outworking everyone. In January 2011, the Irish were pursuing high school linebacker Ishaq Williams. To show his enthusiasm and to persuade Williams to attend Notre Dame, Diaco showed up at his front door in the early hours of the morning.

“It was [3:45 a.m.],” he said. “I just think that deep in their heart of hearts they always knew Notre Dame was the place for them. … I always believed Notre Dame and Ishaq Williams and the Notre Dame family would be a great marriage.

“I don’t necessarily want to fight with other universities for prospects. I just want to get the right fit for the University that I serve and in the prospect that I serve.”

Diaco said his lessons extend past winning and losing.

“I love the players and want them to be the best they can be every day,” he said. “The results of how the defense does or the results of the team for me are almost irrelevant.”

His players say what they appreciate most about Diaco is his intense personality.

“Coach Diaco’s a beast,” graduate student defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore said. “He’s fun to be around, he’s the same guy everyday on and off the field and that’s what I really appreciate out of him.”

With the Irish heading into Monday’s matchup with Alabama as the nation’s top-ranked team with the top-ranked defense, obviously Diaco is a strong fit for Notre Dame. He said the fit is reciprocal.

 “I love Notre Dame,” he said. “The feeling of community and the spirit of Mary and Jesus Christ and the faith and the work the University strives for in everything that they do. It’s just awesome. I just hope someday my children are fortunate enough to go there to get an education.”

His oldest child is 15 years old and still has a couple years before he experiences the college application process. With the way Diaco is rising in the industry, there’s a good chance he will no longer be at Notre Dame then.

But Diaco will always love Notre Dame and wherever he is, his energy will be evident on the sidelines and the recruiting trail.

And, when he has time, in the kitchen and in the boat as well.

Contact Andrew Owens at aowens2@nd.edu