Blue and Gold Illustrated

June-July 2020

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

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Page 16 of 47 JUNE/JULY 2020 17 BY LOU SOMOGYI S ucceeding a legendary/cham- pionship coach often is one of the most treacherous and thankless tasks in athletics. Standards set by a coaching icon can become overwhelming and often result in constant comparisons that cannot be matched. The Notre Dame football program has served as Exhibit A through the decades. Hunk Anderson, Terry Brennan and Bob Davie experienced it as first-time head coaches replacing Knute Rockne, Frank Leahy and Lou Holtz, respectively. Even Dan Devine, who won a na- tional title in 1977, could never quite escape the enormous shadow of Ara Parseghian, and stepped down after a sixth year. In men's basketball, the successors for John Wooden, Dean Smith and Bob Knight at UCLA, North Carolina and Indiana lasted only two, three and six years, respectively — even though each had at least one Final Four run on his own résumé during his short stint. It was pretty much a no-win situ- ation to be the man who had to re- place a Vince Lombardi, Phil Jackson or Joe Torre, and woe to the ones who dare to succeed Bill Belichick and Mike Krzyzewski. In women's basketball, the most legendary coach so far to replace was Tennessee eight-time national champion Pat Summitt. Successor Holly Warlick, who played for Sum- mitt, made the NCAA Tournament all seven seasons, won 72 percent of her games and advanced to the Elite Eight three times — but was ousted because the standards and expecta- tions were not close to getting met. So now, Niele Ivey takes on the im- mense task of filling the high heels of Muffet McGraw, who in 33 seasons with the Fighting Irish won 848 games, advanced to nine Final Fours and won two national titles (2001 and 2018) en route to getting enshrined into the Nai- smith Basketball Hall of Fame. GROOMED FOR THE ROLE As onerous as the task might seem, the fact that Ivey started for McGraw as the point guard on one national title team (2001) and coached with her on another (2018) at least provides a blue- print no one else could replicate. She was groomed not to be daunted by it. The foremost advice Ivey has been given by both McGraw and director of athletics Jack Swarbrick is to be herself and not put on a false façade, includ- ing attempting to emulate her mentor. "Following a legend is not easy," Ivey conceded. "I think I am pretty much always true to myself. I try to stay as authentic as I can. I've devel- oped a strong work ethic and I'm go- ing to use that stepping into this role. "I understand the value of Notre Dame. I understand the value of a Notre Dame education, because I was fortunate to receive one. I'm going to lead with my heart and soul and just try as hard as I can to bring the best out of our girls and for them to grow. "My mission is to love, to serve and to mentor, and I'm going to live Ivey started for McGraw as the point guard on one national title team (2001) and coached with her on another (2018). PHOTO COURTESY FIGHTING IRISH DIGITAL MEDIA HUGE HEELS TO FILL Niele Ivey prepares to handle challenging role

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