Golic Weighs In On State Of ND
ORLANDO – It wasn’t the season any fans or alumni wanted or expected, but Mike Golic says sometimes schools go through seasons like Notre Dame’s in 2016.
“Every now and then, you have a down year,” Golic said last weekend from the Under Armour All-America Game here, where he served as a coach.
“My years at Notre Dame weren’t great years, they were down years, 5-6 years and such. You just have to deal with it and you’ve got to move on.”
The dismissal of defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder just four weeks into the season was a part of it, according to the ESPN Radio talk show host, who played defensive tackle for the Irish in the early-1980s.
“Obviously when you go through a coaching change during the season like they did on the defensive side of the ball, things were unsettled over there,” he said. “They just never got in the rhythm. We lost a lot of players last year in the Draft.
“You come back and deal with some injuries obviously and a coaching change during the season, a lot of things add up to it. Everybody is a realist too, you flat out didn’t get it done. These are all great athletes and a coaching staff. At the end of the day, you’ve got to execute and it wasn’t done on the level of the players and/or the coaches. The people who understand that the most are the ones who were on the field and on the sidelines. This isn’t rocket science and they know that.”
Golic wasn’t in favor of Brian Kelly’s decision to let the quarterback battle between DeShone Kizer and Malik Zaire spill into the season.
“I’m not a fan of it and I said it on my show,” he said. “I think you pick one and you go with him. I think you have time between spring ball and August to decide who that is. I think for an offense, you need to know who your quarterback is, say, ‘This is our guy,’ and let him run the offense.
“That’s my personal opinion. But, there have been other places that have had success with two quarterbacks. For me, that’s just not the way I’d go about it, but I’m not coaching the team. In my opinion, I would say, you get a quarterback – and obviously with DeShone, we saw that he should have been the guy. I’m a firm believer that if you can, have that thing settled before the season starts.”
But he does have trust in Kelly’s leadership.
“He’s had success there,” Golic said of the Irish head coach. “It’s not like he’s looking for his first successful year. He knows how to coach. I’m sure he had a pretty stern and intense meeting with all of the players after the season.”
Golic said nobody wants to win more than the coaches and players in the locker room.
“They all understand they have to turn it around and every single one of them has to do better at their job,” he said. “If you’re getting guys coming back for their fifth years and not going to the Draft, that’s good and that helps out for whatever guys that may be. DeShone, I know is leaving, so you go on to another quarterback.
“Everybody has to understand how they have to execute and it starts now, it starts in the winter workouts. You say, ‘OK, look what you did last year and look where you have to get to.’ All of the players on the team have had some success in their football careers, so they know what that feels like. Now it’s just a matter of getting there and it will start with leadership by the players in the locker room and obviously the coaching staff.”
Even with several changes to the coaching staff during the offseason, Golic thinks the transition will be much smoother than the one the Irish had to navigate when VanGorder was let go.
“The good thing about the latest changes is they happen in the offseason, so you can fill the spots and all of the players can get to know that coach, that coach’s personality and that coach’s style,” he said.
“It is about the new coaches coming in and buying into the way Coach Kelly wants this process to work. The bottom line is everybody needs to be on the same page and you listen to one voice and that’s Coach Kelly’s. You have the locker room that’s run by the players and you have your leaders there, but everybody has to buy in and everybody has to understand the common goal and everybody has to understand that that work starts right now.”