Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Official Athletics Website

Tyrone Willingham Announces Staff For 2002

Jan. 28, 2002

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Seven members of the football coaching staff at Stanford join one Notre Dame assistant coach from this past season and one former Minnesota Viking assistant on new Notre Dame coach Tyrone Willingham’s staff for 2002.

Joining Willingham in the move from Palo Alto are former Cardinal assistants Bill Diedrick, Kent Baer, Mike Denbrock, John McDonell, Trent Miles, Buzz Preston and Phil Zacharias. They combine with Greg Mattison, retained from the 2001 Notre Dame list of assistants, as well as Viking assistant Trent Walters to form Willingham’s new Irish staff.

Diedrick will serve as offensive coordinator and also coach quarterbacks. Baer will serve as defensive coordinator. Denbrock and McDonnell will combine to coach the offensive line. Preston will coach running backs, Zacharias will coach linebackers and special teams – and Mattison will coach the defensive line. Walters will coach the secondary, and Miles will coach the receivers.

Here’s a brief look at the nine members of the new Irish staff:

Bill Diedrick has been Stanford’s offensive coordinator and quarterback coach since 1998. During those four seasons combined, the Cardinal has averaged 30.4 points and 422.4 total yards per game – including 37.1 points (first in the Pacific-10 Conference, tied for ninth in the country) and 451.5 total yards (first in the Pac-10, 10th in the nation) in 2001. Stanford’s offense in 1999 set school records for most points (409) and total yards (5,138) in a season. He previously coached at Washington (quarterbacks from 1994-97, offensive coordinator in ’94 and ’95), Washington State (offensive coordinator and quarterbacks in 1989-90), Idaho (offensive coordinator, quarterbacks and wide receivers in 1986-88), Montana State (offensive coordinator and quarterbacks in 1984-85), Whitworth College (assistant head coach and offensive coordinator in 1982-83), in addition to 11 seasons at the high school level in Washington. Overall, he has 15 years of experience as an offensive coordinator at the collegiate level. He also was the Edmonton Eskimos offensive coordinator in the Canadian Football League in 1991-92.

Kent Baer spent seven seasons at Stanford coaching linebackers, the last three as defensive coordinator under Willingham. Like Diedrick, he boasts 15 seasons of experience as a defensive coordinator at the college level. Baer’s 2001 Cardinal defense led the Pac-10 in rushing defense for only the second time in Stanford history – with its 109.6-yard average including five games in which opponents were held to less than 87 yards on the ground. He previously coached at Arizona State (defensive coordinator and inside linebackers in 1992-94), California (defensive coordinator and linebackers in 1987-91), Idaho (defensive coordinator and linebackers in 1986) and Utah State (outside linebackers in 1977-82, defensive coordinator in 1983-85).

Mike Denbrock comes to Notre Dame following one season coaching the offensive tackles and tight ends at Stanford. He helped keynote a Stanford running attack that led the Pac-10 in rushing (201.0 yards per game) and ranked 23rd nationally in 2001. He previously coached with the Arena Football League Buffalo Destroyers (assistant head coach, defensive coordinator, offensive and defensive lines in 1999-2000), Grand Valley State (offensive coordinator, quarterbacks and running backs in 1992, offensive coordinator, quarterbacks and wide receivers in 1993-95, defensive coordinator and linebackers in 1996-98) and Illinois State (offensive line in 1990-91).

John McDonell (pronounced MACK-duh-NELL) finished his first season as coach of the Stanford centers and offensive guards in 2001. In addition to combining with Denbrock to tutor the league-leading Stanford rushing attack, he worked in 2001 with Cardinal senior guard Eric Heitmann, a first-team All-America pick on teams named by the American Football Coaches Association and Football News. He previously coached at Washington State (offensive line and tight ends in 1989-93, offensive coordinator and offensive line in 1994-2000), Weber State (offensive line in 1984-88), as well as two seasons at the high school level in Montana.

Trent Miles concluded his initial season in 2001 as Stanford wide receiver coach. Among his Cardinal pupils in 2001 were junior flanker Luke Powell, whose 22.3-yard average per catch currently stands as a Stanford career mark, and rookie wide receiver Teyo Johnson, the Pac-10 Co-Freshman of the Year. He previously coached with the Green Bay Packers (offensive assistant and quality control in 2000), Fresno State (wide receivers in 1997-99), Hawaii (wide receivers in 1995, defensive backs in 1996) and Northern Illinois (wide receivers in 1991-93, defensive backs in 1994).

Buzz Preston has been Stanford’s running backs coach the last three seasons. In his first season with the Cardinal in 1999, Stanford doubled its rushing-yard production from the previous year (831 in ’98 to 1,690 in ’99). Then, in 2001, Stanford led the Pac-10 in rushing for the first time at 201.0 yards per game. He previously coached at UNLV (offensive coordinator and quarterbacks in 1998), Washington State (running backs in 1994-97), Hawaii (special teams, wide receivers and defensive backs in 1987-93) and Southern Illinois (wide receivers in 1984-85, defensive backs in 1986).

Phil Zacharias spent the last seven years at Stanford coaching defensive ends and special teams. The Cardinal ranked second nationally in punt returns (15.86 yards each) in 2001, behind Luke Powell, who ranked second individually in that category to earn first-team All-America honors as a kick returner from the Football Writers Association of America. Zacharias’ kickoff return unit ranked second nationally in 1995 – and he also coached 1997 Lombardi Award finalist Kailee Wong. He previously coached at Rutgers (outside linebackers in 1991-93), Eastern Michigan (outside linebackers in 1989-90), Morehead State (outside linebackers in 1986-87, special teams coordinator in 1987, defensive coordinator in 1988) and North Carolina (part-time assistant in 1985).

Greg Mattison has been Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator since 1997, coaching inside linebackers in 1997 and the Irish defensive line from 1998 through 2001. The Irish in 2001 ranked 14th nationally in total defense (304.91 yards per game, Notre Dame’s best figure in that category since 1996) and 10th in pass defense. He previously coached at Michigan (defensive line in 1992-96, defensive coordinator in 1995-96), Texas A&M (defensive line in 1989-91), Navy (defensive line in 1987-88), Western Michigan (linebackers in 1982-86, defensive coordinator in 1985-86), Northwestern (defensive line in 1978-80) and Cornell (defensive line in 1977). He also coached five seasons at the high school level in Wisconsin.

Trent Walters comes to Notre Dame after eight seasons on Dennis Green’s Minnesota Vikings staff, the first six as outside linebackers coach, 2000 as inside linebackers coach and 2001 as a defensive assistant. He helped the Vikings to NFL playoff berths in six of his first seven years with the club He previously coached at Texas A&M (defensive backs in 1991-93), Louisville (defensive backs in 1986-90), Pittsburgh (defensive backs in 1985), Cincinnati Bengals (defensive backs in 1984), Washington (defensive backs in 1981-83), Indiana (defensive backs in 1973-80), Louisville (defensive backs in 1972) and Indiana (freshmen/junior varsity in 1968-71). Here are some other notes on the Irish assistant coaches:

Trent Walters’ son Troy played receiver under Tyrone Willingham at Stanford (1996-99), setting a Pacific-10 Conference record with 244 career receptions and winning the Fred Biletnikoff Award as a senior as the top receiver in college football. Troy played the 2000 and 2001 seasons on the same Viking team for which his father coached.

Trent Walters (defensive backs) and Greg Mattison (defensive line) were on the same Texas A&M defensive staff in 1991 under R.C. Slocum.

Tyrone Willingham (running backs) and Trent Walters (outside linebackers) served together as Minnesota Vikings assistants under Dennis Green during the 1994 season.

Kent Baer and Phil Zacharias are the only coaches who were part of Tyrone Willingham’s original staff at Stanford in 1995.

Kent Baer (defensive coordinator) and Bill Diedrick (offensive coordinator) coached together at Idaho in 1986.

Both Trent Walters (1981-83) and Bill Diedrick (1994-97) spent time on the University of Washington staff.

Bill Diedrick (1989-90), John McDonell (1989-2000) and Buzz Preston (1994-97) all served on staffs at Washington State at one time, with Diedrick and McDonell coaching together in Pullman during the 1989 and 1990 seasons.

When Trent Walters coached the Pittsburgh secondary in 1985, the Panther head coach was Foge Fazio, who a year later became Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator and later coached with Walters with the Minnesota Vikings from 1995-99.