NewsCenter 16 has all the angles covered as you get ready to see the Irish take the field Saturday, September 6 against the San Diego State Aztecs.
We’ve put together a “Countdown to Kickoff” pre-season special to catch you up on the state of the Notre Dame football program heading into the 2008 season.
Crazy Pat Kuntz is back and he’s sporting another strange haircut. His teammates explain why they’ll look to him when times get tight. Plus, Charlie Weis tells us what he would change about college football. He also fills us in on what he thinks are the best and worst parts of his job.
The senior had a breakout season in 2007 and showed off his breakout personality, but then left Notre Dame in the spring semester for unspecified personal reasons.
As NewsCenter 16’s Angelo Di Carlo shows us, Kuntz comes from a special hair-raising breed.
When Pat Kuntz returned to the Irish, some big changes were very noticeable. He has bulked up, making himself a bigger force on the defensive line -- that's the change you can see easily on the field.
The other big change, well, that requires Kuntz taking off his helmet for you to notice.
“Personally, I don’t know what he was thinking. I don’t think I would have went with the mullet. Nah, I really wouldn’t have went with the mullet,” says Irish safety and captain David Bruton.
“If you just look at it in the front, it’s a legit haircut, pretty respectable,” explains Kuntz. “But then you let the flow hang out and that lets people know you mean business.”
Wacky haircuts are nothing new for Kuntz; last year he was sporting a bizarre-looking Mohawk.
“The Mohawk is out of style, it’s out of style. Mullets are back in,” says Kuntz.
Bruton thinks differently. “I don’t know what magazine he’s looking at.”
“I’m surprised, but I’m not surprised because it’s coming from Kuntz,” says Irish linebacker and captain Maurice Crum.
That’s Pat Kuntz’s personality; he’s just a little different.
Last year, when he was out with an injury, he was still making a unique impact at practice to keep spirits up.
“When times get tight, that’s the guy that is going to help everyone crack a smile so we’re not so uptight,” says Crum.
It’s easy to see how much Kuntz enjoys being around his teammates, which is why having to leave school in the spring was hard for him. He still won’t say what caused him to leave, but does say that it wasn’t easy.
“It was a tough time, but at the same time, I’ve learned a lot. I feel like I’ve grown as a person and feel that I’m more motivated than ever,” Kuntz explains.
And you can see that motivation in practice this fall.
“Just having team camp start up, I realized what I was truly missing, how fun it is to be around these guys and to play football for Notre Dame,” says Kuntz.
And Kuntz has shown on the field that it’s not just his personality that makes a big impact, but also his play.
And this year, the senior will look to fill the void left by Trevor Laws as Kuntz shifts from nose tackle to defensive end.
NewsCenter 16’s Jeff Jeffers gave head coach Charlie Weis the bully pulpit to hear what he would change about college football, and he also tells us about the best and worst parts of his job.
So what would he change about college football?
Charlie Weis: “Well, I mean, I’m probably in the minority, but two of the things, two of the things I’m, even though most conferences might not be in favor of it… I think that eventually they’re going to have to have a playoff system in football. I’m not saying how many teams need to be involved, but I think you’ve got to take away the gray area, I think, as best you can.
Also, I think that recruiting has become pushed back so early in the process, you know recruiting used to be something that, you know, you got to your Senior year when the season was over you went on five visits and picked a school. But you know now, by Junior year you better be on them, and God, in basketball, if you’re not on them in 8th grade, Freshman year, you’re in trouble already. But in football, if you’re not on them Junior year, and I think that having an early signing period in recruiting would be a good thing for all involved.”
And what’s the worst part of coaching the Irish?
Charlie Weis: “I think that depending on the level that you’re at, it’s the amount of time you get to spend with your family. As much as I love Notre Dame football, I don’t love them nearly as much as I love Maura and Charlie and Hannah. And I think that because if you’re doing your due diligence as a coach, it’s not a 9-5 job; you get up early, and you stay late and they just don’t their fair amount of time.”
Then what’s the best part of coaching the Irish?
Charlie Weis: “The best part are these kids, these are great kids. I mean, you know when you finish a season, when things don’t go so well, you always feel a little sorry for yourself. In my case, I kind of try to take me out of it, and I feel a little sorry for my wife and my kids, but you know, these kids are such good kids.
That’s why my kid likes being around these kids so much, because he sees himself a lot like them, you know. They’re just good kids, you know, they want to be successful and once they get a little taste of it, who knows, hopefully they’ll start gorging themselves.”