Alford to Notre Dame

Got an interesting question from an emailer yesterday.

What in the world would Notre Dame want with a position coach from Louisville? Isn’t it strange that even with our program struggling, a program with Notre Dame’s history is looking here for assistants?

This, of course, is in reference to U of L running backs coach Tony Alford taking the same position at Notre Dame.

I suppose it is interesting that so many U of L assistants over the years have gone on to bigger things. But for whatever struggles he’s had at Louisville, you should consider this about Steve Kragthorpe. He has attracted talented assistants. Kragthorpe is well connected throughout football and has been able to bring in top coaches.

These are talented staffs, as evidenced by the fact that so many schools have been raiding them. It’s not unheard of. John L. Smith’s staffs were routinely hit by promotion from without. Scott Linehan wound up as a head coach for the St. Louis Rams. Art Valero went to the NFL. Nick Holt went to USC and then to Idaho as head coach.

Here’s what the South Bend Tribune had to say this morning about Alford’s hiring . . .

The 40-year-old Akron, Ohio, native will coach a position that has underachieved since Darius Walker bolted to the NFL with a year of eligibility remaining following the 2006 season.

During Alford’s nine seasons in two different stints at Iowa State, his running backs consistently produced 1,000-yard seasons. And ball security was rarely an issue, with just 13 lost fumbles by the backs during his time there.

As an All-Western Athletic Conference player himself at Colorado State (now a Mountain West Conference School), Alford once rushed for a WAC-record 310 yards in a game against Utah. That’s more than half of what ND’s leading rusher, sophomore Armando Allen, amassed this past season (585).

Alford dabbled in pro football with the NFL’s Denver Broncos (1991) and the Birmingham Fire of the World League of American Football (1992) before settling into coaching.

“I’m very happy to add Tony Alford to our staff,” Weis said in a statement. “In talking with several sources at the college and NFL levels for suggestions, the first name that came up was Tony’s. He came highly recommended because of his tremendous reputation as both a running backs coach and as a recruiter and is a great addition to our program.”

“Notre Dame is the epitome of college football,” Alford said in a statement. “To join a place with the tradition and history of Notre Dame is very exciting, and I’m grateful to coach Weis for extending me this tremendous opportunity.”

Alford comes to ND after spending the last two seasons at the University of Louisville. His previous college coaching stops include Washington, Kent State and Mount Union. He did coach some special teams in addition to his running back duties in his second go-round at Iowa State, but his biggest upside is as a recruiter.

“He certainly works hard at it,” Lemming said, “and that’s half the battle. But he’s never been at a school where he has had to knock heads with the top schools for a great player. So this is a chance for him to make a name for himself.

“I think it is realistic to expect him to land three to four great players in the class of 2010. We’ll know a year from now if those expectations are being met.”

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