With so much news coming out of Culver from the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team’s first week of camp, it’s understandable that some interesting ND-related interviews not about the 2017 Irish football team have flown a little under the radar.
So, I wanted to quickly link to, and discuss, a couple fantastic interviews/stories published by my wonderful hometown’s predominant newspaper, the Indianapolis Star.
Within the past two days, Gregg Doyel and Laken Litman (fantastic name, by the way) have published articles featuring interviews with former Notre Dame safety Matthias Farley and with ND men’s basketball coach Mike Brey, respectively.
The Farley interview gives us a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at Farley’s personality and off-the-field interests, which are both anything but normal.
Meanwhile, Brey’s Q&A proves once again why he’s one of the most likable, honest coaches in the sport, and why Notre Dame sports fans should really be excited about the basketball team, instead of another likely disappointment on the football field (my words, not his).
Let’s dive in.
Matthias Farley Is So Much Weirder Than You Thought, and In the Best Way
It definitely wasn’t a normal career arc for Matthias Farley at Notre Dame.
He came into the program as a 3-star receiver prospect who was really a soccer player who had just begun playing football. He was moved to defense during his redshirt freshman season in 2011, and by 2012 had become the backup to 5th-year senior and starter at safety, Jamoris Slaughter.
You probably recall what ensued in 2012, but in case you erased that season from your memory as a result of the NCAA ordering you to do so, here’s a recap: Slaughter got hurt early in the season, Farley stepped in beautifully, and he served as a tackling machine and playmaker at safety on the best defense the Irish faithful had seen in at least a decade (49 tackles + 1 big-time INT against Stanford).
He was in on at least a couple of the big goal line stops against Stanford and USC that season, and looked like the next big thing at the back of the secondary, considering he was just a sophomore with 3 more years of eligibility.
However, Farley’s career actually seemed to go downhill from there, as he saw less and less playing time and his role was reduced to more of a nickelback/reserve corner by his final season in 2015 (despite still having a knack for making occasional big plays). Many fans pointed to injuries for his diminished play, while others said he just wasn’t as good as we all thought.
Moral of the story, though — now that it’s clear Farley is both hanging around in the NFL and also competing for a starting spot — is that the dude can play some football.
But Doyel’s article about Farley really doesn’t focus on that as much, and rightfully so. Farley’s interview with him is an eccentric journey through the mind and life of a very different type of athlete. Some highlights:
- Matthias buys his shirts at Goodwill and his shoes at Ross Dress for Less, but insists on buying his pants at Lululemon
- Farley got to play against the Broncos last year because Colts head coach Chuck Pagano was yelling, asking for who the team had at nickel since their starter was hurt. Farley softly said he could play, and so he got to go in. Just like that
- He took an offseason vacation to Liechtenstein
- He’s been going through a “Drawing for Dummies” book and is currently drawing vases
- He owns TWO ukeleles (one for home, one for the training camp hotel -- obviously)
- He claims to be really good at playing the kazoo
- He named one of his dogs Harper “because she can’t let anything go. She harps on it”
- He named his other dog Loki (after the Nordic god of mischief, obviously)
- He wants to go hunting with Adam Vinatieri
- He and his two dogs hunt birds and they’re better at it than everybody
- He stores his slain birds during these hunting trips in the pocket of a hunting vest he wears (which might be a normal thing for hunters but I think it’s hilarious)
I implore you all to read the article - Farley’s career has been a strange one for sure, but after reading Doyel’s piece on him, it’s clear that that career path has been absolutely fitting for who he is. I’m excited to see what he does next.
Notre Dame Basketball is Worth Your Time and Excitement — Even Right Now, In August
While everyone and their mother gears up for football season, the currently dormant college basketball world is beginning to stir, as teams are just a few months away from games starting up again.
So, in order to get some info on the top college basketball program in the state of Indiana over the past 3 seasons, Indianapolis Star reporter Laken Litman had a one-on-one chat with Mike “Loosest Coach in America” Brey, head man for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish basketball program.
Anyone who has seen Brey’s postgame pressers — or even just any interview he’s ever given — knows that the man is always honest, interesting, and stands for everything good about college sports.
Litman’s Q&A with him is no exception, and absolutely deserves to be read by anyone who considers themselves a Notre Dame sports fan.
Here are some nuggets from the full transcript:
- Brey says that the ND basketball program may just be in its healthiest state in its storied 113-year history
- He says he is coming out with an instructional video this year, and I am absolutely going to purchase a copy to show to my work league basketball team
- He talked briefly about how his core nucleus (BONZIE COLSON, Matt Farrell, Rex Pflueger, TJ Gibbs) is a group of passionate guys who are hard on themselves, and he’s gotta find a way to keep them relaxed and help them move on to the next play (especially important without the calming presence of guys like Pat Connaughton, junior year Demetrius Jackson, the perpetually-emotionless Steve Vasturia, etc.)
- He called out Notre Dame fans for their poor showing in Brooklyn for the ACC Tourney and for their attendance at the game against Villanova. His final line is what diehards have been trying to tell general Irish sports fans for years about this program: “They need to get off their backsides and get out there and watch this thing”
- He has no interest in any other college coaching jobs and expects to retire at ND
- With that said, he said “never say never” about taking a pro job, especially because his offensive system is what everyone in the NBA is running now. He didn’t sound convinced it would ever happen, though
- He describes this year’s team as good defensively, and questions where the shooting will come from. If that’s accurate, it will be a very interesting team to watch, considering that does not sound like a typical Notre Dame team at all
- He called BONZIE a “junkyard dog” and I love it so much
- All coaches in the world love BONZIE COLSON
- He says the ACC has established themselves as the deepest conference in the country, and should be a 9-bid league this season
- The non-conference schedule might get even less interesting starting in 2019, when the ACC moves to a 20-game conference schedule...Brey is definitely wary of his players having nothing in the tank come March
I know I can be one of the more pessimistic writers here, especially when it comes to the football program. But it’s still so unbelievably uplifting to read an interview like this and just see how well-off the Notre Dame basketball program is, and how fantastic of a leader is running it. He is everything you’d want out of a college coach, and I am seriously SO excited for basketball season after reading that article...in fact, I almost don’t care what happens on the gridiron this fall.
‘Almost’ is the operative word there, but still...Mike Brey is the man, and the future is bright for Irish hoops.
Please don’t spend all your time worrying about/complaining about the football team, when we ND sports fans have something (and someone) truly great right in front of us that (who) deserves more support.