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FOOTBALL:QB coach Vaas plays key role in Quinn’s development development

Mike Gilloon | Wednesday, October 5, 2005

There are a few secret ingredients to Notre Dame’s passing success. And one of those ingredients is named Peter Vaas.

Vaas replaced previous quarterbacks coach David Cutcliffe in the offseason when Cutcliffe resigned for health reasons. And though Charlie Weis is a higher-profile quarterback teacher, the head coach notices Vaas’ positive influence on his thriving starter, Brady Quinn.

“I have total confidence that [Quinn] is being coached by an upper-level person,” Weis said in Monday’s press conference about his attitude during practice. “It frees me up from having to worry about what [Quinn is] going to do if I am not there.”

Since 2000, Vaas has been the head coach of both the Cologne Centurions and Berlin Thunder in NFL Europe. Earlier in his career, he coached running backs and quarterbacks at Notre Dame in 1990 and 1991, respectively.

Now, the return to South Bend has been a welcome homecoming of sorts for Vaas. As the man working closest on a day-to-day basis with the quarterbacks, he has worked behind the scenes as Quinn has amassed career- and program-high numbers – 65.3 completion percentage, 1,621 yards passing, 13 touchdowns and just three interceptions.

Quinn is raising eyebrows with his play, but Vaas said he is not surprised with the quarterback’s success. He is pleased. And he said the main part of his job during such a hot streak is to make Quinn work to do what he does best consistently.

“I think there are a lot of things Brady has done well, and you just continue to remind him of what he needs to do to have that consistency,” Vaas said. “Trust me, it’s not rocket science, it’s just very little things now and then. Brady just continues to practice and practice … and as a result he becomes more consistent.”

Vaas’ experiences with coaching in the NFL and in college are memory banks for his current coaching style. Since the sixth grade, Vaas said, he wanted to be a coach. As he lives that dream, he constantly is reminded of his own development as a football coach and a football mind.

“Growing up, I watched [Boston Celtics coach] Red Auerbach a lot on television, watched the Celtics games or whatever it may be, so it’s been an ongoing process,” Vaas said. “When people say you’re a student of the game, you’re also a student of your profession. You watch different coaches on TV conduct interviews, you watch different coaches with practices, how they interact with people, you ask [questions].”

He feels privileged to have one of the most well-respected quarterback tutors in the nation in Weis coaching along with him and teaching him new aspects of the game.

“One of the exciting things for me to come here was to learn from Charlie and to see how he interacts with the quarterback,” Vaas said. “So when that happens, it’s a learning experience for me and I relish that opportunity.”

Vaas has coached many quarterbacks since taking his first job as running backs and quarterbacks coach at Allegheny College in 1974. But he was wary of naming a favorite.

“I don’t want to insult anybody else along the way, but right now Brady is my favorite because he’s the one I’m with,” Vaas said.


Seven Irish assistant coaches will be on the road recruiting Thursday and Friday. Weis, Vaas and tight ends/assistant special teams coach Bernie Parmalee will remain in South Bend to be Weis’ “skeleton crew,” as the head coach described it Monday, for Thursday’s practice.