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Ianello looks back at Notre Dame

Pete Sampson over at Irish Illustrated had a chance to talk with new Akron head coach Rob Ianello. Ianello opened up about the disappointing swoon at the end of the season and what he learned coaching under Charlie Weis these last five years.

Here are a few interesting tidbits:

Ianello on recruiting:

Recruiting all over the country was great for me. I can pick up the phone and call coaches, even though our blueprint is Ohio and western Pennsylvania. Because other schools have a jump start in recruiting, I can call coaches in different parts of the country and get recognition. A good part of my network in recruiting came before Notre Dame, but because I was also in a leadership position at a school like Notre Dame it’s helped me as a head coach.

On why this season didn’t work:

I think one thing that I’d take from this season when I look back was we’re 6-2 and lose to Navy and that took the wind out of our sails. I think you look back and after that Navy game you have to get your team to refocus their goals. Maybe you change your goals. That’s something a head coach has to do consistently. It didn’t work after that game and we never got the train back on track. Looking back, I learned that after a hard loss you need to find ways to get the team back on track. We couldn’t get that done this year, couldn’t get over the hump. I can’t put my finger on why.

On the chance to return to Notre Dame:

I would have liked to return and I made that clear to (athletics director) Jack (Swarbrick). I got phone calls from time to time when a coach was released and Jack asked me to be the interim coach. There were a couple phone calls from other schools, a couple opportunities. My family liked it at Notre Dame. I liked it there. I’ll miss the University. I really don’t think we were that far away from being really successful. If I didn’t have this opportunity to be a head coach, I would have wanted to come back. I believe in the mission of Notre Dame.

On the importance of a recruiting strategy:

I just think there’s been a lot of groundwork put down in different parts of the country. If I was him, I’d start where the groundwork is, the private schools in California, the Chicago Catholic League. I would really try to start there. It’s a big country and you have to do a good job screening it and weed through a lot of things. Recruiting at Notre Dame is all encompassing. You really have to have a good plan. You’ve got to have some patience because when you jump on Johnny, there’s usually going to be a Jimmy that pops up five states away and he might be a better player. That’s the trick at Notre Dame.

I think our classes got better over the years. Sometimes in a program classes don’t get better, they go the other direction. I thought our classes got better and a lot of that production was having a good plan and understanding it. It was about guys being in their areas for a while, getting to know their areas, getting to know the high school coaches and getting to know younger kids earlier in the process.

Ianello has brought a definite Notre Dame flavor to his Zips coaching staff, with Ron Powlus joining him as well as offensive line coach John Latina. Former Irish wide receiver David Grimes also joins the staff as a graduate assistant, which is great to see.

Irish fans should definitely be rooting for Ianello to succeed. He’s a good guy who served the Irish very well for five years.