Blue and Gold Illustrated

August 2020

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

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Page 52 of 55 AUGUST 2020 53 1968-69, when he served 20 months in the Army Medical Service Corps at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. By then, he had established him- self as an astute judge of talent and avid recruiter for Notre Dame. So when one of Parseghian's two as- sistant offensive line coaches, Jerry Wampfler, departed to take the head coaching position at Colorado State, Parseghian didn't hesitate to turn to Boulac as the replacement. "One of the things I do remember Ara telling me is he wanted me as a recruiter," Boulac recalled. "Because of my Notre Dame background, he felt I would be a good recruiter for the university. So I got an early re- lease from the service and started working Feb. 1, 1970." During Parseghian's remaining five seasons, Boulac instructed pri- marily the tight ends and offensive tackles, while Wally Moore handled the centers and guards. The two had served as the Notre Dame freshman coaches in the mid-1960s. *** Parseghian's projection about Bou- lac becoming a renowned recruiter proved clairvoyant. In its March 3, 1975 edition, Time profiled Boulac in an article entitled "Brian's Pitch." By then, Dan Devine was a few months into having succeeded Par- seghian as the head coach. There was an early schism between Parseghian recruits and Devine, but three bed- rocks firmly remained in place dur- ing the transition from Parseghian to Devine: defensive line coach Joe Yonto (1964-80), linebackers coach George Kelly (1969-85) and Boulac (1970-82) — all Notre Dame gradu- ates — were retained to provide a stabilizing environment. During this time, Boulac mentored consistently productive offensive lines and tight ends — led by College Football Hall of Fame inductees Dave Casper and Ken MacAfee, who were also national champions in 1973 and 1977, respectively — and became the first Notre Dame coach to receive the title of recruiting coordinator (1976). From 1964-80 under Parseghian and Devine, and with Boulac as a val- ued assistant, Notre Dame recorded a 148-33-5 (.809) record, won three con- sensus national titles, shared another and seriously vied for several more. *** So valued was Boulac's work that when Gerry Faust was hired as the new head coach in 1981, Boulac was given the assistant head coach title, handled the defensive line and spe- cial teams, and helped sign top-rated classes in 1981 and 1982. Unfortunately, when it became evi- dent to Notre Dame athletics direc- tor Gene Corrigan that the Faust era probably was not going to thrive, he recommended Boulac for an opening in the athletics director's office. After the 1982 season, Boulac opted for the administrative role, similar to Krause, who had served as a line coach in the 1940s for Leahy. "It was a very difficult decision," Boulac said. "I looked at the situa- tion and thought, being the assistant head coach, I probably would not be retained by whoever came in as the next coach. My children were at the age where they were starting to think about college, and back then assistant coaches weren't making what they are making today. I had to think of it as a great opportunity to pay for my children's education at Notre Dame." Indeed, all four of his daughters — Dawn, Denise, Debbie and Dyan — earned Notre Dame degrees, while wife, Micki, was a 1983 graduate of the Notre Dame Law School. From 1983-2009, Boulac worked in a variety of capacities in service to Notre Dame, from serving as an athletics department liaison with the admis- sions and financial aid departments, to working in student development. *** My first interaction with Bou- lac was in August 1981 when as a sophomore I was previewing Notre Dame's special teams for the campus newspaper. No coach ever at Notre Dame had a more booming voice on the practice field than Boulac, whose inflections I described as "one octave above sten- torian." I was intimidated to even approach him. When I did after practice, he was in a rush to his office and told me to talk along the way. I hurried through some questions before excusing my- self — and then he stopped me and politely with a smile told me to calm down and that I had forgotten to ask certain inquiries that were impor- tant. He then proceeded to give me a thorough breakdown of each posi- tion group on his units while making me feel much more at ease. As gruff as the exterior was on the field, he was a gentle, caring soul off it, and quite unassuming in a profes- sion where egoism is a prerequisite. Rest ye well, faithful servant/am- bassador to Notre Dame. ✦ Coaching In His Blood Although Brian Boulac was primarily in athletics administration his final quarter century at Notre Dame, the coaching bug never quite left him. When Boulac worked with 1987-95 athletics director Dick Rosenthal on helping form the women's soccer and softball programs into varsity sports during the late 1980s, he received a surprise. "We went out and got our soccer coach for the fall season, and I remember telling Mr. Rosenthal, 'Now it's time to look for a softball coach for the spring,'" Boulac recalled. "And he just said, 'We've already got him.'" Rosenthal had tabbed Boulac for the role because he had coached in the American Softball Associa- tion for 17 years, and three of his daughters would play for the Irish. It was supposed to be temporary to get the program on its feet, but instead Boulac was named the Midwestern Collegiate Conference Coach of the Year in his first season (1989) and took the Irish to conference and/or regular-season titles the next three before the school finally hired Liz Miller. "I can't think of a better way I could have spent my young adulthood," Boulac said. "The relationship with athletes becomes a very important factor in coaching. You can't be in it just for wins and losses. You have to be in it to watch young people grow and mature." — Lou Somogyi From the time he enrolled at Notre Dame in 1959 to when he retired in 2009, Boulac saw — or par- ticipated in, as a player and coach — every Irish home football game for 50 consecutive seasons (282 contests). PHOTO COURTESY FIGHTING IRISH MEDIA

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