Lou West was one of three assistants to leave the Notre Dame coaching staff at the end of last season.
He relinquished his job as safeties coach to become the defensive coordinator at the University of Toledo.
Urban Meyer also left as Notre Dame's receivers coach to become the head coach at Bowling Green. And Jerry Rosburg resigned his post as the Irish's cornerbacks/ special-teams coach to become special-teams coordinator for the Cleveland Browns.
So far, all three men are enjoying much better success than Notre Dame, which is 0-3 and off to its worst start in 115 years.
West is leading a defense that is ranked first in the Mid-American Conference in run defense (fifth nationally) and total defense (12th nationally). The Rockets also are 4-0 for the first time since 1997 and are No. 23 in both national polls.
Meyer's Falcons are 3-1 and the school is off to its best start since 1996. And Rosburg's Browns are 2-1 and in a four-way tie for first in the AFC Central.
“Hopefully, God will continue to bless us all,” West said yesterday. “As for Notre Dame, I think they'll get things going. It's just a matter of getting things put in the right perspective and once they get things rolling, they'll be OK.
“I don't think us three leaving hurt Notre Dame.”
Notre Dame has won eight Associated Press national titles, the last coming in 1988. The Irish were 9-2 in the regular season last year, but got whipped 41-9 by Oregon State in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1 and finished 15th in the final AP poll.
The Irish have scored just 23 points this year and fans want head coach Bob Davie fired, even though he signed a five-year contract extension at the end of the regular season a year ago.
“They play a tough schedule week in and week out and people have to realize they have to be up every week for every team they play,” West said. “And sometimes it just doesn't happen for them.”
West said he is happy to be at Toledo, which plays Ohio Saturday on the road in a MAC game. The Rockets, led by first-year coach Tom Amstutz, have won 11 straight games and 17 of their past 18.
“One of the reasons I came here is because I knew it was a good program,” West said. “I knew coach Amstutz was a good person. Combining those two things together, I figured we would be in the mix of things nationally.
“It's been a good transition for me. It's great to be back working with this style of defense - it's the same (4-4) defense we ran at Virginia Tech. It's the style of defense I want to run if I ever become a head coach.
“Working with Tom has been a great help, too. Not only has he done it, he's right there when things get tough and I can ask him a question and he will have the answer.”
West said he's not surprised by the early success Meyer has enjoyed at Bowling Green. The Falcons already have won more games than they did last season, when they finished 2-9 under former coach Gary Blackney.
“I knew Urban would do a good job because of the type of coach and guy that he is,” West said.
QUICK HITS: Senior defensive end Leo Frierson (fractured tibia) will not play against Ohio. UT has an open date next weekend, then will play at Ball State on Oct. 20. Coach Tom Amstutz said yesterday he hopes Frierson, from Fostoria, is ready to play against the Cardinals. ... Amstutz said senior backup inside linebacker Jason Manson likely will be lost for the season with a knee injury suffered in the third quarter of Saturday night's game against Northern Illinois. ... Senior linebacker and special-teams player Adam Tedora, from Monroe St. Mary's Catholic Central, is doubtful for the Ohio game with a knee injury, Amstutz said. ... Inside linebacker Tom Ward, from Defiance, was named West Division defensive player of the week. He had 11 tackles and a sack against NIU. Ward leads the MAC in tackles with 46. ... When kicker Todd France, from Springfield, had his extra-point attempt blocked Saturday, it snapped his streak of successful PATs made at 90. His last prior miss was on Oct. 2, 1999, against Bowling Green.