Shafer recounts 1st Notre Dame game, debut as college coach

first_imgAll Scott Shafer had known as a coach was Division III football. Now he was a “GA in the corner” with Indiana and the Hoosiers were starting their season against Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.Shafer sat with Joe Novak, Indiana’s defensive coordinator at the time, while the two put on their socks in the locker room before the game. Of the two, the older Novak had put in a lot more time to play a game at the hallowed Notre Dame Stadium.“(Novak) said, ‘You little son of a gun, it’s taken me 23 years to get here and play at this venue, and here you are in your first game at Notre Dame as a college football coach,” Shafer said. “And I turned to him and I said, ‘Coach, it’s taken me 23 years to get here too.’ Because I was 23 years old.”What prompted Shafer’s trip down memory lane was a question about the “aura” of Notre Dame football. The Syracuse head coach — in anticipation of the Orange’s (2-1) date with No. 8 Notre Dame (3-0) at MetLife Stadium at 8 p.m. on Saturday — discussed his first experience against the Fighting Irish, but also likened his current team’s game to any other. AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“You can say, ‘Aw you’re trying to downplay, Coach. I’m not trying to downplay anything, this is a great opportunity,’” Shafer said. “It’s an unbelievable chance to live the dream with my players, our players, coaches and myself. “But, you know, it’s overrated if you don’t take care of job one, and that’s what the cadence, what foot do I have to step with, where do they end, let me go try and knock this guy backwards.”But before getting to that, Shafer shared a story about being intimidated by then-Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz. Shafer was warming up the quarterbacks too close to midfield, and some of the players — future NFL Pro Bowl quarterback Trent Green among them — spilled onto the Irish’s side of the field. Shafer remembers Holtz running over and saying something to the effect of “You don’t get to the 50,” and leapt to the side of the podium to mimic his 23-year-old self. “I shouldn’t have been intimidated, it’s just Lou Holtz,” he added. “He grew up in Ohio like I grew up in Ohio. You know, we just knew football as a way to get out I guess.”TV timeouts didn’t happen in D-III and Shafer used his first exposure to one as a chance to look around. With a play chart in his hand he was fuming about a play not going the Hoosiers’ way, but he also saw there were two white lines and a football field in front of him. The band, the crowd, the stadium and Notre Dame’s legacy are all things Shafer said “don’t matter” when you’re standing on the field. Shafer said it’s just like playing ninth-grade football at Auburn Road junior high, except you’re in an NFL stadium, there’re stars instead of clouds in the sky and the game’s on ABC. Shafer is making sure it doesn’t take his team until the first TV timeout to realize all that. “So trying to break it down into simplicity and the things that it is is the key,” Shafer said. “Understanding that there’re quite a few Chinese people over there in China that don’t even give a hell that we’re playing football … “Trying to bring it back to reality.” Comments Published on September 25, 2014 at 3:51 pm Contact Jesse: [email protected] | @dougherty_jesse Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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