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Transcript of interview with Gary Godsey

Matthew DeFranks | Thursday, September 6, 2012

On choosing Notre Dame:
“I grew up with a Catholic upbringing and went to Catholic school my whole life. I went to Catholic grade school and a Jesuit high school so it was kind of a perfect step for me. Obviously the academics and the athletics are top notch. Going through the recruiting process, once I got that short list of schools, I went up there for my visit and it was a perfect fit for me.”

“I think it was Saturday night of my visit and I was where the College Football Hall of Fame. I had dinner there and I was upstairs. Greg Mattison and Urban Meyer were recruiting me. I kind of pulled them aside and committed.”

On Urban Meyer:
“Charlie Strong had this area from a recruiting standpoint but Charlie left with Lou Holtz to go to South Carolina. Then Urban and Mattison took over the process for this area. I actually still keep in touch with Urban Meyer. When he was at Florida, it was a close trek for me to go up and see him. I love Urban Meyer and still to this day keep in touch with him. [He is] a great coach, knows the game, knows the passing game very well. He was the wide receivers coach when I came there and my junior year he left to go to Bowling Green. Obviously, his accomplishments speak for themselves. He is a great coach.”

“I thought that they would make a run for him. I thought he was a good fit. I think he would fit in great as the head coach of Notre Dame. I thought that was a likely hire. Obviously, they went in another direction with a great coach like Brian Kelly.”

“He did not [call games]. The offensive coordinator at the time was Kevin Rogers. Urban’s role was the wide receivers coach even though he was heavily involved with the passing game. He didn’t call plays. It was mostly Kevin. I think he had a lot of input, as did Steve Addazio and Bob Davie but Kevin Rogers was the play caller.”

On his thoughts when Arnaz Battle got hurt:
“It was Sunday after we played Nebraska. I was sleeping in my dorm in O’Neill. Jabari Holloway and Joey Getherall and David Givens knocked on my door on a Sunday morning after a football game and I was sleeping. They told me about Arnaz and I said ‘Shoot, I better get ready because I knew I was they guy.'”

“[Coach Davie told me] that Sunday when they found out the extent of Arnaz’s injury. I went to the coach’s office and he told me to get ready.”

On motivation because of Nebraska:
“We had a great squad that year. We should have beaten Nebraska and some things didn’t go our way at the end. Absolutely, we knew we were one of the best teams in the country. The way the BCS system works, we couldn’t have very many losses if wanted to be in contention there coming down the stretch.”

“Purdue at the time was ranked in the top 15 in the country. Everybody knew about Drew Brees and the stable of receivers he had. We were playing them at home so certainly motivation to get back on a winning track.”

On going up against Drew Brees:
“I was excited, nervous all in one. I was pretty confident. I had a great freshman year, learning behind Arnaz and Jarious Jackson. I had a great spring ball. I knew when it was my opportunity, I would be able to perform. I was pretty confident going into that game, believe it or not. After the first couple snaps, I settled in.”

On the “In Godsey We Trust” shirts:
“It was pretty cool to see around campus. I’m not sure many people knew it was me. I was bumping into people in class wearing the shirts not even knowing who I really was. It was cool to see. I had a brother at the time who was a quarterback at Georgia Tech so they had done some of that at Tech. That weekend, I was starting against Purdue and George was starting against maybe Clemson or something. It was more nervewracking for my parents. My parents would split up. I think for that game, my mom and my oldest brother were there. My mom away to see George’s game.”

“A box of those shirts ended up at my family’s house. I have a box of those shirts in my parents garage. I’m sure my parents enjoyed it.”

On the Purdue game:
“I remember being super nervous. We blocked a punt and we had the ball on the eight-yard line going in. The very first play, I got a delay of game. It backed us up. It was third-and-goal and I scrambled up the middle and scored a touchdown. So that kind of settled my nerves and we were winning.”

“It was kind of a back and forth battle and at the end of the game, we got the back back with like a minute and some change and we were down either one or two. We got to the two-minute offense which was a passing attack which was my thing as a quarterback. I liked that no-huddle passing attack. We drove down the field. I remember Nick Setta kicking a field goal and winning the game. I remember some of the fans storming the field.”

On outperforming Drew Brees:
“Now that’s he’s signed a hundred million dollar contract? I don’t know if I outperformed him or not. It was a good team effort and we had a lot of things happen that day. Obviously, special teams were huge with the blocked punt and field goal at the end of the game. I think our defense was ranked in the top 10. I don’t know if I outplayed Drew Brees. I completed more balls than him but that just how it goes sometimes. He’s a super quarterback who’s had a great career since.”

On Purdue recruiting him:
“They did. I had a sister at Purdue. I looked at Purdue hard and it was important to go there and be a quarterback and kind of fill in for Drew Brees. There was some motivation there because I knew all the coaches from recruiting and my high school receiver was a receiver at Purdue. There was some personal battle there. I definitely wanted to go out there a perform.”

On the Michigan State game:
“We started off the game great. We drove down the field, I threw a touchdown pass. Our offense sputtered for a couple quarters. The coaching staff thought we needed to run the option a little bit more so the put in Matt LoVecchio. At the end of the game, we were winning. We lost on a quick slant that got taken to the house. For the team’s sake and way our offense was heading, after that game, we thought it would be best if I moved over to tight end. That was the last game I started at quarterback. We left that game on a sour note.”

On losing the starting job:
“The writing was on the wall after that game. Against Michigan State, we were switching back and forth, kind of a multi-quarterback system. We were moving in and out. He played well. They had recruited three quarterbacks behind me. I almost felt like I had to prove to the coaches that I was a quarterback because some of them wanted me to be a tight end. I had a great spring my freshman year. That fall, I did a great job. The writing was on the wall after that game. That was fine with me. I had another three and half years to play tight end and I don’t regret it at all.”

On the competition with Matt LoVecchio:
“He is a great guy and he was a great quarterback at Notre Dame. Things didn’t end up working out for him and he ended up transferring. It was a great competition. Carlyle Holiday and Jared Clark were also in there. We had a great group of quarterbacks. We all brought out the best in each other. We all trusted the coaching staff. At the end of the day, it was best for me to move to tight end. Matt did a great job and we went to the Fiesta Bowl that year.”

On himself as a quarterback:
“I was your typical in the pocket, drop back passer. In high school, we ran a four-wide look so I loved to swing the ball. I’m more of a thrower than a runner so we had a pretty unique mix of quarterbacks. Most of the guys ran the option but I was more of a drop back passer.”

“[It was] absolutely [tough to run the option]. I’m [six-foot-six]. I’m a pretty easy target running down the line. We ran different kind of offense when I was the quarterback. We ran more of a drop back, pro-set look; a lot of play-action, a lot of shotgun stuff. We had different offenses curtailed to our needs.”

“I don’t know [what I could have done in the right offense]. I think about that a lot. I try to second guess what was going on then and the decision the coaching staff made because you choose the school and you’re happy, you try not to look back. I had a great career as a tight end. Who knows what I could have done as a quarterback? I’m certainly very proud of the decision I made to go to Notre Dame. I wouldn’t change the degrees I got from there and the relationships for any of those decisions.”

On his transition to tight end:
“It was and it wasn’t. I was very cerebral player. I understood everybody’s roles as a quarterback. That part of it was very easy. Physically, I was bigger so I wasn’t too behind physically. Maybe I had to gain an extra 15 pounds or so. The transition was easier than it would have been for someone playing a different position. As a quarterback, you understand what everybody’s doing on every play and I understood the playbook. It was a pretty easy transition.”

On the three quarterbacks in a BCS bowl year:
“That’s crazy to think about nowadays. That shows you how good of a squad we had. If you were to go back and look at how many guys went to play in the NFL and are still playing in the NFL, it would surprise you. We had a great defense and we had great special teams. Urban was the special teams coordinator. I think a lot of that came into play since we had a lot of changes at the quarterback position. We had great running backs and a great offensive line. We knew we could hand the ball off to Tony Fisher or Julius Jones. We could put together a great game plan centered around them.”

“Carlyle Holiday ended up going to the NFL as a receiver. Jared Clark ended up playing tight end. Out of that stable of quarterbacks, no one ended up playing quarterback their entire career except Matt and he transferred. It’s crazy to think we went through that and made it to a BCS game.”

On his long snapping:
“When I moved over to tight end, I was a really good long snapper. I was brought into three different camps to try to long snap at the end of my career. I had an uphill battle on that because I tore my ACL playing against NC State in the Gator Bowl my fourth year. I caught a ball on the fifth play of the game and blew my knee. I rehabbed it and came back for my sixth year and like the second day of two a days, I did the same thing. So I didn’t get to play in my fifth year. I applied for a sixth year and the NCAA denied it for whatever reason. I tried to put myself together for the next level. I had some workouts, I was brought into a couple camps. And I got released, released, released. I went back to Notre Dame and finished my graduate degree and now I’m in corporate America.”

“I long snapped in high school and it was easy being a quarterback, going underneath and snapping the ball. It was a skill I had perfected in high school. When I moved over to tight end, it was an easy thing to pick back up.”

On his injury in the Gator Bowl:
“It was awful. The worst thing about it wasn’t the fact that it happened then. I had it reconstructed and rehabbed it. The most devastating thing was six months later, I tore it again not knowing the Gator Bowl would be the last game I play. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think ‘If I didn’t get injured, what would happen?’ You take in for granted that you’re out there playing, having fun. You’re young and you don’t ever think you can get injured. I would give anything to be able to play my fifth year with all my buddies in the stadium, running out and enjoying everything that goes along with being a Notre Dame football player. I was able to enjoy it but from the sidelines. Who would have ever thought going into that game [it would be my last]? I thought I had another year and then go have this wonderful career in the NFL. Things happen for a reason, I guess. For whatever reason, I got injured and that was the end of my career right there.”

On his potential sixth year:
“Kevin White was the athletic director. His right hand person was Sandy Barber. They did a great job along with Ty Willingham going to Indianapolis fighting for it. It got denied and I appealed it and got denied again. I don’t know why I got denied and they never really gave us a justified answer. It’s the NCAA and they call the shots. I had already graduated and I was halfway to getting my master’s degree. I was lucky enough that Kevin White kept me on scholarship.”

“I did [think I would get a sixth year]. There are case studies with people that got it before me that had less of a reason to get it. I thought for sure I was going to get it. I actually trained with the team that whole offseason and summer, everything. I was kind of certain I was going to get it but who knows.”

On his NFL career:
“It was at the end of my fifth year so after the draft and everything. I took that summer, went to a few different organizations and for whatever reason, it didn’t work out. You get to that level and get injured, it’s kind of an uphill battle.”

“Baltimore brought me in. Buffalo and then Tampa brought me in two or three different times. It was the same year [Tampa] brought me in three different times in the span of a month, month and a half.”

On his acting career:
“The fall of what would have been my sixth year, my brother George was playing arena football with this guy that started this company called Real Sports. They make sports movies look more real than they have in the past. There’s real hitting with real athletes in the roles. So this guy asks me if I’d be interested in doing it and I ended up doubling a guy in the movie. I took that fall of what would have been my sixth year and got away from campus, got away from football and went out to California and filmed that movie [in 2004].”

“It certainly was a roller coaster but it was a sweet gig at the end there. I knew the whole NFL was going to be an uphill battle. I had a great opportunity to go out there in be in a movie and did a commercial after that.”

“I didn’t [consider a career in acting]. I knew I wanted to finish my graduate degree so I had to get back to South Bend at some point. I was able to finish it just after that movie in the spring semester.”

On his education:
“It was going to be too hard to get my MBA while playing football so I graduated in four years not knowing I was going to get hurt my senior. I finished my psychology degree in about a year and a half and was an easier graduate program to dive in to being a student-athlete. It didn’t require as much time as an MBA would. I had the opportunity to get a graduate degree and I wanted to take advantage of it if I could.”

On his current career:
“We have 45,000 employees and we’re based out of Chicago. The name of the company is Jones Lang La Salle and we’re publically traded. I worked with a company called the Staubach Company before that which was Roger Staubach’s company. Back in 2008, we were bought by Jones Lang La Salle. My title is vice president and I work from Tampa. Basically, I do work for Fortune 500 companies across the world and we look at companies’ real estate portfolios and evaluate it and see if we can save money for the clients.”

“I knew I wanted to get into real estate. Coming out of school, I didn’t know what capacity. A family friend of mine was opening up a Staubach office here in Tampa and I interviewed with them after interviewing with a bunch of other firms. It was a great fit for me.”

On transferable skills from football to business:
“There are a lot of comparisons and analogies between the commercial real estate world and athletics. There’s a lot of competitiveness. We look at winning new accounts, winning new clients as winning a game.”

On Bob Davie:
“Another one of the reasons I chose Notre Dame was because of Bob Davie. A lot of people just remember his record there, he had his fair share of losses. He made a pretty big impact on my life. I kind of always looked up to him. He’s a tremendous leader. He just got caught in a stretch with a couple bad seasons. He did a great job recruiting, we had a bunch of good players during those years. While the fans will remember the losses, for us players, we enjoyed playing for the guy.”