SOUTH BEND, Ind. - A year ago, Urban Meyer and Lou West took part in Notre Dame's annual Blue-Gold spring football game.
Both served as key assistant coaches for Notre Dame head coach Bob Davie before each moved a few hours east of South Bend to Northwest Ohio. It's only been a few months since Meyer was named Bowling Green State University's head coach while West became the University of Toledo's defensive coordinator.
After watching the Irish defense outplay the team's offense for most of Saturday's spring game held before approximately 20,000 fans at Notre Dame Stadium, Davie wasn't so wrapped up in thinking about what all took place during the final spring practice that he wouldn't talk about his two former assistants.
“You hate to lose good coaches, but that's part of this profession,” Davie said.
Meyer, who coached the wide receivers at Notre Dame since 1996, was brought in to turn around a recent run of losing seasons for the Falcons. BG posted a 2-9 record last fall in Gary Blackney's final season overseeing a program once revered by Mid-American Conference foes. BG has suffered six straight losing seasons.
Davie believes Meyer, an Ohio native whose resume includes stints with such notable coaches as Lou Holtz and Earle Bruce, is the right person to turn the Falcons program around.
“Urban Meyer is one of the best football coaches I've ever been around,” Davie said. “I saw his development here (at Notre Dame). He came in here a young, aggressive coach and he left here a polished, aggressive coach.
“I think he'll be a star in this profession. I think Bowling Green is extremely fortunate to get him.”
Notre Dame offensive coordinator Kevin Rogers worked closely with Meyer the last two years in honing the Irish's passing game. He thinks Meyer, who will earn $125,000 per year in base salary over the next five years, has what it takes to resurrect the Falcons program.
“Urban Meyer is a high-intensity, high-motor guy,” Rogers said. “He's a terrific football coach. He's great with Xs and Os. He'll be an unbelievable motivator. He'll be a dogged recruiter.”
West was a defensive secondary coach at Notre Dame, primarily focusing his attention to the Irish safeties. UT's new head coach Tom Amstutz brought West in to oversee a strong Rockets defense.
And Davie believes West is driven to succeed in his new coaching endeavor.
“I think it's a great opportunity for him to move up in this profession,” Davie said. “He felt like he needed to have that title (defensive coordinator) to take the next step. His goal is to be a head football coach and I think this gives him an opportunity to do it.”
Notre Dame defensive coordinator Greg Mattison thinks West, who will earn $90,000 per year, will prove beneficial to a UT team that posted a 10-1 record last fall.
“That football program is very fortunate to get a guy like him,” Mattison said. “The only other thing I can ever say is that if my son is ever lucky enough to play for coach West I'd send him to him.”
What seem to be Notre Dame's losses appear to be BG's and UT's gains. Nevertheless, the loss of two coaches moving on to a couple of MAC teams isn't expected to shake up the Irish.
“You hate to lose good coaches anytime, but I think we have enough continuity in the program now that it goes on,” said Davie, entering his fifth season as head coach at Notre Dame.