Blue and Gold Illustrated

December 2018

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 38 of 47 DECEMBER 2018 39 proud, and we won at Georgetown a bunch back in the day. I always felt so good when we could win for our D.C. fans. Certainly, that meant a lot to me, but even more because Collins was there for it, and then he would send me an email about the game. I felt really close to all those guys. Former Irish forward Tracy Jackson and I were the same year in school. We played against each other when he was at Paint Branch High School. The pressure I felt was that I wanted the D.C. pipeline guys to be proud. Those guys were like, "All right, Mike, get it done for us. Get us go- ing again." So when a guy like Col- lis emails you and he says that he's proud of the group, that makes me excited about what we're doing. It was really neat my first summer after getting the Notre Dame job. I went back to the High Point Summer League — back when you could still watch high school stuff — in Adelphi, Maryland. I called up Collis and Bob Whitmore, and they got Adrian Dant- ley, so I walked into the gym with those three guys. Never have I been more proud. The gym was buzzing. I came in with three of our big-time D.C. guys, and we watched the game. It was really, really powerful. I certainly knew those guys and I've gotten to know them even better now. We all went to Dantley's Bas- ketball Hall of Fame induction, and I think it meant a lot to him. Dantley's always had a special spot because we're both DeMatha guys. So he's always been supportive. I can't say enough about John Pax- son, the Chicago Bulls' executive vice president; he has been really support- ive and communicates a lot. It means a lot coming from him based on who he is and what he's done in basket- ball. He'll text me and check in after a tough loss. It just feels good that he's proud of our program. So many of those guys have been great. Kelly Tripucka had our NCAA games on radio in Brooklyn a couple years ago. I get really proud when that old guard of guys who were really good here say, "Man, it's awesome to watch our program again." That's the ultimate endorsement. When those guys reach out and are proud, that makes me feel really good; that's what it's all about. The '90s were tough. Not a lot of those guys prob- ably were talking much about having played at Notre Dame. But I think we've really gotten some guys back on the bandwagon. You get to know them informally through the reunions. And some of their kids have come to school here now at Notre Dame. We'd see Bill Hanzlik and Rich Branning because they were back on campus. All those guys have been so supportive, and that's the key. When the former players before me are talking us up, man, that's powerful. That means a lot to me. I always felt some pressure because I want them to be proud of what we're doing here, so they can wear their Notre Dame stuff into work after a big win and say, "Hey, man, ACC champions," or, "Hey, we beat Syracuse last night." I feel we've gotten that back, I really do. And that's as gratifying as any- thing out there because I really respect the guys who came through here be- fore me. I idolized and watched all of them play as a young guy and I imi- tated them out on the playground. So it's been really cool to see those guys. During my introductory press con- ference at Notre Dame, Toni Ginnetti of the Chicago Sun-Times asked about this job being a stepping-stone. I said, "I hope I'm good enough to retire here." I always looked at it as a place you could be really good and stay — and not take another job. Maybe it didn't exactly look like it when I showed up, right? But as I got into it more, I always felt there was a comfort level with the mission. I knew the kind of kids we were going to recruit. I un- derstood all that. I quickly understood our culture on campus and what kind of young men could fit into that culture. The kind of kids you get here is why you stay. I had Bonzie and Matt Farrell at breakfast one day during their senior seasons, just catching up. I'm talking to them like men. They're just so re- freshing to be around. As I grew to know the culture, I grew to know some of the hurdles, but I never dwelled on what we didn't have. Here's what we've got. I think we've got great selling points, a Big East, ACC style of play. Let's just grind. Let's just work. The two athletic directors who I've been with have been really supportive in that aspect, always asking, "How can we help? What else do you need?" As I got into years six, seven, and eight, it became a little challenging be- cause those were NIT years. But then we started going back to the NCAA Tournament on a regular basis and we have a system in place. Then the ACC kind of took it to another level of com- fort. Why would I want to coach any- where else? I turned 59 last spring and I'd love to keep coaching until I'm 65. And the contract I signed in April 2018 gives me the chance to do that. Athletic director Jack Swarbrick and I started talking about this extension last summer. The contract runs through 2025, when I'll be 66. Maybe then it's time for something else. The goal was always to retire here. I casually said that the day of my opening press con- ference on July 14, 2000. You want to do a good enough job that this is the last stop. Even when we only made it to the NIT, I always said, "It's a great situation. Don't mess with it. Don't overanalyze it and keep plugging." I'm a Midwest guy now because, man, I've been out here so long. ✦ This excerpt was printed with the permission of Triumph Books ( TO PURCHASE, CHECK OUT THE 2018 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE AVAILABLE AT BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM Brey, who is in his 19th season at Notre Dame, is the lone Irish men's basketball head coach to reach 400 victories. He plans to coach through his contract that ends after the 2025 season. PHOTO BY COREY BODDEN

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - December 2018