Jan. 12, 2010

Kerry Cooks Quotes

His thoughts on coaching at Notre Dame:
“This is a place to me, that growing up as a kid in Texas, you watched Notre Dame or Michigan. You had to be a Longhorns fan as well, but it’s a very prestigious, historic place. As a coach, when I think about coming here, guys have worked their whole career and never had an opportunity to play or coach at an elite program. When I think about the opportunity to come to Notre Dame, this is the pinnacle of college football. Obviously, we’ve got to put our stamp on it and get it going in the right direction, but Notre Dame is Notre Dame. Whether they’re 6-6 or 12-0 or 13-0 or whatever, it doesn’t matter. It’s a name that can get you in any household in the country. It’s a great career and resume builder, not only for coaches, but for players as well.”

On the factors that went into leaving Wisconsin for Notre Dame:
“I think it was time for a change. I had played with (Wisconsin Head) Coach (Brett) Bielema and known coach Bielema since I was 18 and had felt I had learned all that I could learn at Wisconsin. For me, it was two things. One was change, so I could see a different university, a different part of the country. Two, it’s giving me an opportunity to work with a different position. I’ve been a safety, corner and nickel as a player and I’ve also coached those positions. The opportunity to come and work with the front seven, a different position, and get to know and learn intrigued me. It will be good for me as far as learning the front seven because I’ve always been a back seven guy.”

On his relationship and past history with Brian Kelly:
“I had an opportunity to work with (Notre Dame Head) Coach (Brian) Kelly for about seven days as a young coach. I had just left Western Illinois and was 28 or 29 years old. I was looking to move up and got the job offer to go to Central Michigan when he was there. The first thing that stood out to me was his personality. I was very aware that you can find someone in that short time frame that was magnetic. I think the people and the fans here at Notre Dame will be able to see that, but that was the thing that attracted me to him. He’s a very honest guy, a very genuine guy and a very passionate guy. All of those are things that I learned in those seven days, with those two early morning workouts and getting an opportunity to see him coach and how he related to the players. The thing that I took away from those seven days was that he seemed very detailed, very organized and everything has a plan. Sometimes, you might not see his plan, but he knows the direction he’s going. It was an awesome opportunity for me to work with him for that week. I had another opportunity that came up with another Big Ten university (Minnesota) that was too hard for me to turn down and Coach Kelly understood that and wished me well. We’ve stayed in contact throughout that and that one connection that we made five years ago has brought us back together and I’m very excited about that.”

On his relationship with Bob Diaco:
“Bobby Diaco. ‘Baby Blue’ is what we call him. Bob is a guy that I’ve always looked up to. I remember when I came in as a freshman (at Iowa), Bob was a starting middle linebacker for us. I had no clue about leadership or any of the intensity or passion or any of that stuff. Here I am, an 18-year-old kid going to Iowa, which at the time was a pretty big-time program and still is. I had an opportunity to see how Bobby managed a defense. He was a leader. He was our team captain. I had the opportunity to actually play with him his last two years, my first two years, and we built a relationship from there on out. We’ve got some mutual friends and it’s going to be a fun opportunity to coach with him. Bobby D. was also on that staff at Central Michigan when I was there seven days. He stayed and he was co-coordinator throughout that year and then he ended up going and working elsewhere, but I’m very excited to be back with him.”

On how playing at Iowa and in the NFL helps his coaching:
“I think every coach brings his own intangibles. One thing that I think I bring is that everybody has an opinion about the Big Ten. One thing that stands out to me, is a lot of Big Ten guys and a lot of Iowa guys that played in that league is that it’s a different mentality. We have a physical mentality and a tough mentality. We may not always be the biggest, strongest, fastest, but we’re going to fight to the end, we’re going to be relentless. We’re going to do everything that we do with a lot of passion. Obviously, with being in coaching, I’ve learned the fine points and being detailed in the nuances of any position you coach is important. My players can expect me to get deep into their lives. I want to know them outside of just being a player because I need to understand what makes those guys tick: their backgrounds, what motivates them, all those things. Not in an intrusive way, but I want those guys to know the door is always open. I may be their coach, but I also want to let them know that they’ve got a shoulder here. They’ve got somebody who’s got some experience in the NFL, which I know a lot of these kids have desires to play there. That’s not always going to be the reality, so I’m going to sit them down and say that might not happen. But one thing they have is the opportunity to earn a degree from a prestigious university and play big time ball, so to enjoy that moment while they’ve got it.”

On his personality and what players can expect from him:
“I’m pretty even-keel. I try not to get too high or too low. I will get in a face or two every now and then, but obviously with all the things going on in college football, my personality is not to put hands on players or anything like that. I do like to be aggressive. I’m a guy that’s going to look at the pros and cons of whatever the situation is and try to stay even-keel and use a level-head to make any decision I need to make.”

On his recruiting history:
“I’ve had the good fortune of being able to go down and recruit Texas for the last seven years. I’ve built a lot of relationships and we’ve had a lot of previous success at other places I’ve been. I think anyone who knows college football understands that Texas is a hotbed, along with Florida, California and some of the East Coast states, but it’s a tremendous place. It’s an honor for me to go down there representing Notre Dame and re-connect with those relationships that I’ve built over the last seven years. Having that “ND” on your chest is going to open up a lot more doors that I didn’t have an opportunity to do at previous programs.”

On plans for the immediate future:
“I think the biggest thing that I want to do right now is get to know the staff. Everybody is new, so I have to get to know personalities and things like that. I want to take some time to get to know my players. It doesn’t matter what they did in the past, I just want to hear their thoughts about some things that were good and bad. Maybe some things that they would’ve liked to have or some things that they wouldn’t have liked to have and really start to get a feel for what the pulse of the program was like. Obviously, get situated in the office, maybe take a peek around the area and really go from there and get a plan together to hit the recruiting trail hard over the next few weeks. We’ve still got some scholarships to give and as a staff we’re going to sit down and sort it out, figure out who we’re targeting and try to go after them.”