#60: Football in Wisconsin (2): The Alvarez Notes, South Bend, 1988
Author Bryan Stevenson observed that, “You can't understand most of the important things from a distance...You have to get close.” SGG's "Football in Wisconsin" special series gets close to football through conversations with coaches, competitors, and others connected with the game in the Badger state. We aim to deepen our understandings of coaching -- and of football's impact on and off the field.
1. The first time he was contacted by Lou Holtz.
2. Hiring his first defensive staff at Notre Dame.
3. His working relationship with Coach Holtz.
4. Why he continually used the word “physical” with his team leading up to the first game of the 1988 season.
5. “Re-purposing” players who didn’t find success at other positions, including Chris Zorich (“washed up linebacker”), George Williams (“didn’t pass the eye test”), Jeff Alm (“a skinny drink of water”), Frank Stams (“a converted fullback”), Pat Terrell (“a washed up wide receiver”).
6. “Victory doesn’t always go to the biggest, strongest, fastest man, but to the man who thinks he can.”
7. “I always want my guys to think they have an edge…I find an edge every week. On Sundays, I’ll come up with some kind of a theme and some advantage that we have. And our coaches will use it all week.”
8. Coach Holtz was “really good on Friday nights.”
9. Using Thursday nights to build belief.
10. Keeping teams from getting uptight before big games.
11. “Pick up your step. The kids read the coaches. If the coaches are excited, the kids get excited.”
12. What it means to “think like a shortstop.”
13. Lou Holtz’s love of Notre Dame. And the importance of representing your school.
14. Making Michigan State “play left-handed.”
15. The famous Miami game.
16. How he built rapport with his defensive unit.
17. When to be tough on your team: after a big win.
18. Keeping up morale after difficult losses.
19. The importance of grading players in practice as an aid to communicating about their roles on the team.
20. The most gratifying aspect of coaching: following up with players years later and hearing about the impacts
21. The end of season USC game.
22. Making the transition from D-Coordinator to head coach – and waiting for the right timing.
23. The importance of building relationships with players.
24. Truth statements.
25. Joe Moore: “he was uncanny in how he taught.”
26. Joe Moore: “pretend like you’re going to pick that tree up.”
27. Joe Moore: “I don’t want to be a train.”