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Grunhard reflects on Weis era

Former Notre Dame offensive lineman Tim Grunhard is spending the week coaching the offensive line for the West team at the Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio. Pete Sampson over at Irish Illustrated caught up with the former Irish lineman, and 10-year NFL veteran, who had a lot of interesting things to say.

Grunhard almost came to Notre Dame as a graduate assistant last season, mirroring Bryant Young as a former NFL standout and Irish star getting his first collegiate coaching experience under Charlie Weis. Grunhard talked with Sampson about the decision and why Weis was interested in bringing him back.

“You look over at USC and you see Todd McNair and you see Ken Norton and they’re in there getting those guys going, getting them foamed up and ready to go,” Grunhard said. “That’s what Charlie wanted from us. He wanted that. He realized that that’s something he maybe struggled with a little bit. He didn’t have any of those guys and that’s what he kind of needed.

“Great coaches can get in there and get those guys rolling and that’s where Notre Dame struggled a little bit. If you come out flat, if you don’t come out mentally prepared to play, it doesn’t matter how much time you’ve put in or prepared. You’re not going to be able to get over that hump.”

While it doesn’t matter now, I’m glad that Weis realized the shortcomings his staff had from a motivation standpoint, and tried to rectify the situation. While many Irish fans cringe at the rah-rah antics that Carroll and the Trojans employ, the team seems to embrace it and a young vibrant coaching staff has always been a characteristic of USC under Carroll’s watch. While a G.A.'s role is certainly more limited than a full-time coach, Grunhard likely could’ve added some fire to the offensive unit, a group that averaged 30 points a game, but struggled in short-yardage and red zone situations.

Grunhard also mentioned that he likes the fit of new head coach Brian Kelly, citing his collegiate experience as a great asset.

“I think that it’s really good for Notre Dame to have a college coach, a guy that is strictly a college guy,” Grunhard said. “I think that he’ll be able to relate with the players a little bit different than Charlie did. I think he’s an inventive guy.”

Great stuff by both Grunhard and Sampson, and it’s pretty clear that Grunhard loves and follows his alma mater, and has a future in college coaching when he’s ready to take the next step.