Golic: ‘This is home to us. It always will be.’
Mike Monaco | Monday, November 17, 2014
Coffee mug firmly in hand, Golic strolls over toward a wall and spends a few minutes of the commercial break reading one of the many exhibits of Notre Dame athletics affixed neatly throughout this section of the Joyce Center.
Students and fans approach for photos — ranging from quick selfies to shots with professional-grade cameras — and Golic smiles in between bites of a donut.
Life is good for the former Irish captain and longtime ESPN personality back at his alma mater. He’s on campus, surrounded by his family and hosting one of the most popular sports talk shows in the country. The toughest part about coming back, though, is actually the first thing he does when making a trip to South Bend — balancing all his different hats to satisfy Notre Dame’s compliance office.
He’s the father of two former Irish football players — offensive lineman Mike Jr. and tight end Jake — and current junior swimmer Sydney Golic. He’s the younger brother of two former Irish football players, including All-American Bob. Golic himself was a standout defensive end and outside linebacker from 1981 through 1984. He’s also, of course, a co-host of “Mike and Mike” since 1998.
“It’s the dad, it’s the media, there’s a pre-existing relationship, there’s so many hats to wear,” Golic said after Friday’s show. “But I don’t want to do anything wrong, so I make sure I cover my bases.”
Golic learned the hard way. When former Irish quarterback Jimmy Clausen was still in high school and visiting campus for a spring game, Golic was there watching as well. He approached the nation’s top prep quarterback, said hello and started chatting with him about Notre Dame.
For the lack of a better term, Golic said he was “reprimanded” for it.
“So I made sure after that anything from going out to dinner and taking people out to dinner, anything like that, I make sure it’s all cool,” Golic said.
Golic said he has a few very good friends in Notre Dame’s compliance office, including assistant athletics director Jen Vining-Smith, whom he consults.
“I talk to Jen and say, ‘Can I do this? Can I do that? Am I allowed to take these kids here and take them out to have a meal?’” Golic said. “I do what she says. Because if I don’t, that’s trouble for me from her.”
“The beauty of us is they can mesh into one,” said Mike Greenberg, Golic’s co-host. “Unlike other many broadcasters and broadcasts, through no fault of theirs but through sort of the vibe we have created with our show, he doesn’t have to come here and pretend he’s not a dad and pretend he’s not an alum and pretend he doesn’t have a closeness to the University. That’s not part of it. … Unlike many other shows, he doesn’t really have to change hats.
“He’s got one hat, and he can wear it any time he wants.”
Golic has been making trips to Notre Dame since he was an 11-year-old Ohio native watching his brother Bob star for the Irish, beginning in 1975. With academic-minded parents, Bob shunned Ohio State and pledged to Notre Dame.
“Once Bob came here, we’re an all-in family, just like my family is now as well,” Golic said. “We’re behind everybody. Once we saw Notre Dame and the type of place it was, it was on my mind to go there. My wife and I kind of had a Notre Dame household growing up, so I guess that inadvertently brainwashed our kids, because that’s where they wanted to go.”
In turn, Golic has become one of the most recognizable people associated with Notre Dame, at least on the athletics side.
“He’s about as connected to Notre Dame as anyone I know is connected to their alma mater,” Greenberg said. “I mean, literally, anyone in my life.”
Golic has returned to campus for three or four shows, in addition to his countless other trips back to South Bend since his playing days some 30 years ago. “Mike and Mike” broadcast live from the Linebacker Lounge in 2006 and from the library quad in 2012 before the Stanford-Notre Dame matchup.
“People are just great, I just love re-living [it],” Golic said.
Golic said hopefully they’ll broadcast more shows from campus in the future. Asked if there was a new location from which he’d enjoy doing the show, Golic suggested the Hammes Bookstore (“It’s beautiful in there”), assuming the weather during football season will necessitate shelter and warmth.
The best part of the shows at Notre Dame, Golic said, is bringing together his entire family. Golic’s three children and his wife, Chris, were all on set for part of Friday’s show. Right when the show concluded, Golic started chatting with them.
“That’s the best — my wife and my three kids — that’s what it’s all about,” Golic said. “That’s one of the things that we noticed from my brother Bob when he first got here, everybody is kind of treated like a family. So that was one of the great selling points for us. Now my whole family’s involved, so what’s better?”
“This is home to us. It always will be,” Golic added. “There will be a lot of people that come and go, but Notre Dame will always hold a special place in our heart, and we will always be back here.”