Nov. 11, 1999
Today the Insider takes a look at assistant football coach Desmond Robinson, who recently was nominated for the American Football Coaches Association Assistant Coach of the Year Award. Today we examine Robinson’s coaching experience in this two-part series.
When rebuilding a program, the new head coach must first seek out a strong foundation on which to begin a big for a successful team.
Head coach Bob Davie found part of his foundation in running backs coach Desmond Robinson. Davie hired on Robinson to take over the running game.
“He is solid as a rock as a person and he is a good football coach,” Davie said. “The combination of those two things makes him a tremendous representative of the University of Notre Dame.”
Robinson is in the midst of his third season with the Irish. He came to Notre Dame after a two-year stint as the running backs coach at West Virginia. While at West Virginia, he coached the Mountaineer’s Amos Zereoue to the Big East Rookie-of-the-Years honors as he rushed for 1035 yards.
After earning his degree in management, Robinson pondered what his next move should be. He recalls his mother often encouraging him to do what he felt that he did best. Robinson evaluated his options and knew that coaching was where he should be.
“It was something that I knew I had a love for,” Robinson said. “I think you have to pursue those goals that you really love as opposed to what may be financially rewarding at the time.”
He took the next step and returned to his old high school, West Fulton in Georgia. He coached the football team in the afternoons but during the day he taught health classes at the school. He stayed for one season in 1978.
“Quickly I found out that I was more cut out for coaching on the collegiate level,” Robinson said. “While I enjoyed high school athletics, it is just different.”
In 1981, he returned to his alma mater and assumed the position of defensive backs coach. The very next season he moved to Connecticut and became the defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator for the Huskies.
“Early in my career, the biggest thing was to try to put yourself in a position where you can get to a Division I school,” Robinson said.
He did just that when he decided to move from Connecticut to Dartmouth. His stay was limited to one year at Dartmouth before Don Nehlen attracted him to West Virginia.
“Once I had kids, then quality of life became the biggest thing,” Robinson said. “You do want better opportunities but along with the opportunities you want to make sure that the quality of life is there.”
He spent three seasons as the Defensive Line Coach at West Virginia.
While Robinson had spent the majority of his career on the defensive side of the ball, he became the running backs coach in 1991 at West Virginia. The spot was vacated and West Virginia head coach Don Nehlen approached Robinson about becoming taking the position.
“You can rely identify and know what they are doing,” Robinson said about now the added advantage of having coached the defensive line when now coaching the running backs. “You have a better understanding of what others are trying to do. It does give you a little bit of an edge.”
After serving Nehlen and Co., Robinson once again chose to move to Tulane. He spent three season there and worked with the defensive line and the inside linebackers. Then Robinson again chose to go back to West Virginia and assume his old responsibilities as the running backs coach.
Prior to coming to Notre Dame, Robinson held 16 years of collegiate coaching experience. Davie recognized that a coach with so much experience could aid him in rebuilding the Notre Dame program.