Now Comes the Hard Part for Bob Davie : Getting the Notre Dame Job Was the Easy Part; So What Will He Do With It?
Getting the job was the easy part. Now Bob Davie has to figure out what to do with his Notre Dame team.
As the Irish defensive coordinator for the past three years, Davie knows what works at Notre Dame. He knows the players and he saw the success Lou Holtz had with his system.
But that doesn’t mean Davie plans on being Lou Holtz Jr. There’s already one of those, and he’s coaching at Connecticut.
“A lot of Lou Holtz has rubbed off on Bob Davie,” Davie said. "(But) I’m going to be Bob Davie, and I’m going to approach every day doing what I think, what my philosophy is.”
So where does Davie start? His first priority will be convincing seniors who have eligibility left to come back for another season. Quarterback Ron Powlus is first on his list.
Powlus, who missed his entire freshman season with a twice-broken collarbone, was expected to play three years and then move to the NFL. But this fall, he has said he is thinking about returning and would make a decision after the season ended.
Powlus still doesn’t have the national championship he wants so badly, and with quarterbacks Danny Wuerffel, Jake Plummer and possibly Peyton Manning available, he’s not likely to be drafted in the early rounds.
“I know how (Davie) acts. I know how he coaches, which I like very much, so there’s no question it makes it easier,” Powlus said of his decision. “I’m going to have to sit down and talk with him a little bit, see where he stands and where I stand.”
Davie wants Powlus back, but he doesn’t want to push too hard.
“I can give him my opinion, but I don’t want a young man basing his life on my opinion,” Davie said. “He’s got a big decision, but I’ll be there to reinforce him. I’ll be there to give him advice if he so wants it. But make no doubt about it, I want him back.”
Though Davie hasn’t said so, Powlus would likely keep his starting role if he returns. That’s more bad news for backup Jarious Jackson, an option quarterback who came to Notre Dame because Holtz was one of the few coaches still relying on the option.
Despite all the changes, Jackson said he isn’t thinking about leaving.
“It raises a couple of questions in my mind, but at the same time, I’m going to be here regardless of what happens,” he said. “I can get a great education. As far as football, I’m just going to sit back and go with the flow. Whatever happens, happens.”
With or without Powlus, Davie has to put an offense together and he’ll probably have to start from scratch. Davie has said he’ll probably keep some of the existing staff, but he doesn’t know how many.
One who’s not likely to return is offensive coordinator Dave Roberts, the head coach at Division I-AA Northeast Louisiana before coming to Notre Dame. Roberts wants to be a head coach again, and with all the vacancies this season, the odds are pretty good he’ll get that chance.
Though Davie played tight end at Youngstown State, none of his 20 years as an assistant was on the offensive side. But anyone who thinks he doesn’t know how to run an offense is wrong, said offensive guard Mike Rosenthal.
“If you’re the defensive coordinator, you have to know all about offenses,” Rosenthal said. “And coach Davie, he knows everything about offensive schemes and different things that offenses do. I think he’s got a great offensive mind.”
Though Davie wants to diversify the Irish offense--remember Holtz’s shortlived Blarney offense earlier this season?--don’t expect to see a Fun ‘N’ Gun-type system at Notre Dame anytime soon.
Notre Dame’s strength has always been its running game, and Davie doesn’t see that changing.
“I obviously realize from my 20 years of being on the defensive side, you cannot only be one-dimensional,” he said. “You’ve got to be able to throw the football and you’ve got to have balance in your offense.
“The bottom line of what we will do, we will be able to run the football,” he said. “We will always line up and run the football and be able to out-tough people.”
Davie, a former assistant at Texas A&M;, finally got his Irish defense to resemble the Aggies’ “Wrecking Crews,” which were among the best in the nation, so he’s unlikely to make major changes there. But a defensive coordinator will be hired, and Davie said he’ll let that person do his job without constantly peering over his shoulder.
“Bob Davie will not be the offensive coordinator or the defensive coordinator,” he said. “What I’m going to be is the head coach, and at the same time, never lose the authority.”
Being responsible for the entire program won’t be easy, and there’s a lot more to it than just making sure his players are ready for the next game. Besides the daily meetings and practices, Davie will have to make time for the many speaking engagements that come with the head job.
It’s going to be a very different job than what he’s used to, but Davie said he’s looking forward to it.
“What I’m looking forward to is diversifying myself a little bit,” he said. “Having the time to be able to be the head coach and spend thought on how to motivate players. Allowing guys to come by my office during the day and help them with some issues that are maybe important in their lives at this time.
“I’ve coached and prepared for 20 years for this opportunity. I do realize the magnitude and the responsibility of this job, how tough it is to follow in those footsteps. But I also feel totally confident that I can do this job, and I do feel that I’m the right guy for this job at this time.”