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FOOTBALL: New experienced staff hard at work under Weis

Heather VanHoegarden | Thursday, March 17, 2005

When Charlie Weis came to Notre Dame from the NFL’s New England Patriots, he knew that he needed to improve recruiting, and he hired a staff that could do just that.Weis hired former recruiting coordinators and former head coaches for his staff – people who have spent a lot of time recruiting players.”I hired a staff with a lot of recruiting experience,” Weis said. “In addition to having other experienced coaches on staff that have been head coaches, that have actually done those jobs, on top of those guys.”Recruiting coordinator Rob Ianello, who also serves as the receivers’ coach, was previously the recruiting coordinator at the University of Wisconsin. In 1999, while the recruiting coordinator at the University of Arizona, Ianello was named one of the country’s top-10 recruiters by ESPN.com and one of the top six by The Sporting News.Michael Haywood, the offensive coordinator and running backs coach, was the recruiting coordinator at the University of Texas before coming to Notre Dame, and Brian Polian, the assistant defensive backs and special teams coach, was the recruiting coordinator at the University of Central Florida.David Cutcliffe, assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach, Rick Minter, defensive coordinator and linebackers coach and Bill Lewis, assistant head coach and defensive backs coach were all head coaches at some point of their respective careers. Cutcliffe coached at the University of Mississippi, Minter at Cincinnati and Lewis at Georgia Tech. “I hired a very well-rounded group when it came to recruiting,” Weis said of his experienced group of coaches.Weis also said he has a different approach when it comes to recruiting that spans the entire country. He assigned each coach different areas of the country. So, instead of coaches recruiting by position, they are recruiting by areas.Each coach on staff has two areas, Weis said – a primary area and a secondary area. The primary area is one that is within driving distance, while the secondary is a flight away. The players in the primary areas are able to take unofficial visits, while those in the secondary areas primarily take official visits, due to the travel expenses, Weis said. Weis said he has the whole country covered, and declined to say which coach was assigned to which areas. He did say, however, that when recruits came for junior day Feb. 27, the 80 high school players split up with the coaches that were recruiting in their area – not the coaches that were responsible for their position. Weis said coaches in a player’s area are the ones who will develop the relationships with the recruits.”He’s going to be the guy who’s coming to your school,” Weis said of the area coach. “He’s going to be looking for your transcripts, he’s going to be looking to gather tape.”And in the recruiting process, Weis said he will go where he is needed to get the recruits he and his staff want.”I obviously have the country,” he said. “They’ll tell me, ‘This is where we’ve got to go,’ and that’s where we’ve got to go.”However, for now, Weis said his assistants are doing the majority of the recruiting work, much of which has already started.”We’re spending a lot of hours together,” Weis said of he and his staff.Although it is early to be thinking about next year’s signing day in early February, Weis said his assistants are well underway in their efforts, and that they are setting things up for him to finalize.”These other coaches are doing all the ground work,” Weis said. “What they’re trying to do is set it up for you so that you can be the so-called figurehead, or closer. Right now it might be figurehead, but later on, when it gets to December and January next year, you’re the closer.”So, a guy comes in, it’s like closing a sale. I’d like to think I have closer capabilities.”