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Mattison to join Meyer’s UF staff after bowl

Matt Lozar | Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Irish defensive line coach Greg Mattison simply couldn’t take another coaching change.

Mattison will become co-defensive coordinator and the defensive line coach at the on new coach Urban Meyer’s staff at the University of Florida after coaching Notre Dame in the Insight Bowl Dec. 28.

“I’m really excited about it. I’m excited about [Meyer],” Mattison said Friday. “We’ve always really respected each other. I think the world of him and the job he’s done and I’m excited about being there.”

Mattison was the defensive coordinator for all five years of former Irish coach Bob Davie’s tenure. When Tyrone Willingham came to South Bend in 2002, Mattison was the lone holdover from Davie’s staff and has been the defensive line coach for the past three seasons.

“When you’re a guy that’s kept, it’s hard to go pick up the pieces,” Mattison said. “Recruiting is hard enough, but when you have to go in after something like this happened, the first thing you have to get the young man’s confidence and trust. Then you have to recruit him. I said I don’t know if I want to go through that whole thing again.”

Mattison is known as one of Notre Dame’s top recruiters over the past eight years. The challenge of recruiting at Notre Dame is the lack of a local talent base. While the allure of playing for the Irish is an advantage, the countrywide search is a hindrance.

At Florida, that won’t be the case.

“For the past eight years, I’ve been on a plane it seems like every other day flying all over the country,” Mattison said. [Meyer] said, ‘How are you going to like getting in your car, driving to see a kid at night and then driving home?’ Then I said, ‘Well I haven’t done that in along time, that will be kind of fun.'”

Mattison was in consideration for the Western Michigan head-coaching job, but pulled his name from contention when he couldn’t commit five years to running the show there.

“I wasn’t going to take a job and have everybody commit to you and you commit to them and something comes up like a Florida or something like that and have to tell those guys I’m going to take this job,” Mattison said. “I don’t believe in that.”

After coaching at the University of Michigan for five years, the last two as defensive coordinator, Mattison came to South Bend and has seen a number of defensive linemen make it to the National Football League, including Lance Legree, Anthony Weaver, Derrick Campbell and Cedric Hilliard. Current senior defensive end Justin Tuck is projected as a high draft pick when he decides to go to the NFL.

Great players, seeing his daughter graduate in 2003 and his love for the University Mattison leaves with nothing but good things to say about Notre Dame.

“Notre Dame is a special place, it’s as good of a place as there is. I’m still excited about the day I left Michigan to come here. That’s one of the best decisions I ever made just because I had the opportunity to spend eight years at this great institution,” Mattison said. “They are going to be great here. The coach that comes in here, I really think has some great talent. The defense should be back the way it was, and the offense has everybody back.

“Notre Dame will get past this bump. I don’t think there’s a question about that.”