Muffet McGraw reflects on a 27-year 'love affair with Notre Dame'


In the heart of a season, it's very difficult to talk to a coach about where they've been, how they've changed and what drives them to do what they do.

So being mid July--what better time to sit down with a coach and reflect on all those areas. We did that this week with an Irish coaching legend who is very much like a fine wine.

Muffet McGraw first became a head coach at Lehigh in 1982. After 5 seasons, she moved to South Bend. In 32 years as a college head coach, she's won 74 percent of her games with 751 overall wins.

She's accomplished it all at Notre Dame. 663 wins under the Golden Dome, a national championship in 2001 and now four straight trips to the Final Four. But she admits there is no way she ever expected to be entering her 28th season at Notre Dame.

"I remember seeing double decades of Digger on the media guide and I said, 'no way,'" McGraw says with a big laugh. "'I couldn't do this for 20 years.'"

But McGraw is still going strong and still enjoying it.

"Oh I love it," McGraw says. "I think practice is the most exciting time of the day. I always walk out of the office saying i get to to do my favorite thing of the day. i love practice. I always have."

Muffet is just a few years into a 10-year contract and says she doesn't think about when the end could come.

"The things i think about are the day-to-day and the day I'm not happy going into the gym is the day I'm going to retire," McGraw explains. "I know I'm going to wake up one day and not look forward to practice and that's when I'll know its time to move on."

But surely in 27 years at Notre Dame those days of not wanting to go to practice have had to exist right?

"They have not," Muffet quickly points out. "Even after a loss you feel like you want to come back and fortunately we didn't have too many [losses] to worry about last year. We've had a pretty good ride the last five years and that has extended the life of my career."

A career that's changed because of life. Her only child Murphy was born in her early days at Notre Dame.

"I think having Murphy was the best thing for my coaching career because I would watch him play basketball in 7th and 8th grade and not be a starter and be on the bench--be a kid. I could see how the coach talked to him and I would start to think 'oh that's what parents are doing to me' how am i talking to their young daughter."

And as she's grown older, Muffet says she's adjusted her style as a coach.

"I've changed tremendously," McGraw admits. "Initially I was a complete dictator. It was my way or the highway. I was a big Bobby Knight fan. I like the way he ran his program. I felt like I was in charge and that's the way it was going to be. Now... we're so collaborative. i like to get impact from the players. i like to get impact from our coaching staff.

For McGraw, there's no job she could love doing more and no place she would love doing it at more.

"To be at Notre Dame--it's a place where integrity matters," Muffet emphasizes. "There are so many things that this university stands for that I love and admire and want to teach these girls. For me its been a love affair with Notre Dame. I'm so blessed and so lucky to be here."

A journey that still has many adventures left in it.


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