Former Notre Dame player Mike Golic Jr. remains active around game

Bob Wieneke
South Bend Tribune

Signs exist that Mike Golic Jr. is removed from the current Notre Dame football team, the most outward coming when the former Irish offensive lineman uses the word “kids” to describe some of the current players.

Just as soon as the soon-to-be 25-year-old Golic sounds like the distance between him and the alma mater is growing, he talks of “we” when discussing the current team, or talks about the podcasts he is now producing with former teammate Brandon Newman.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” said Golic, a starting offensive lineman on the 2012 Notre Dame team that played in the BCS National Championship Game. “It’s been a way for me to watch these games through a different lens.”

Golic’s lens right now is focused on the Fall Experimental Football League, which soon begins play. He is a member of the Brooklyn Bolts. Golic spent some time in preseason camp with the New Orleans Saints. He heads to New York this week for the league’s inaugural season. The four-team, six-week league is scheduled to begin on Oct. 8 and run through Nov. 12, with franchises also in Boston, Miami and Omaha, Neb. The goal is to develop players for the NFL.

“It’ll be good getting back to playing some ball,” Golic said, “and go from there.”

Golic shared his thoughts on a number of topics pertaining to this year’s 3-0 and eighth-ranked team.

On returning quarterback Everett Golson, who started during the 2012 season, sat out last year because of academic misconduct and returned this year: “I think as a player you’ve definitely seen a big step forward for Everett this season, the confidence in everything he does … the improvement that he made in that year that unfortunately he was away from the program. But one thing I always said about Everett is when it came to the huddle and the sideline, he was always very calm, cool and collected. I remember that stood out to me in 2012.

“I remember he was a redshirt freshman at the time, but a kid that was just so composed all the time, the moment never seemed too big for him, and even when things weren’t going our way and things like that, he was never flustered, he never had that wide-eyed look that you sometimes see out of young players. I always thought that was one of his best attributes. I think that’s only going to help them this year. Obviously he’s in an even bigger leadership role being one of those sort of elder statesmen on the team at this point. But he was always very unflappable and I always thought that was one of the best things that he did naturally.”

• On the attitude of this year’s team: “I think they’re hungry. A lot of these guys, young and old, regardless, we have a lot of guys that are new to being the go-to-guy on the field and so I think they’re all really hungry to get better. I hear Coach (Brian) Kelly talking about it a lot, how these guys are getting better than they were the day before and it’s really exciting to see.”

On the defense under first-year coordinator Brian VanGorder: “It’s sort of a new look than what we were used to under coach Diaco (former defensive coordinator Bob Diaco is now at Connecticut). I think the guys are really enjoying it. Talking to some of the guys back there when I’ve been back, they really like it. It’s that exciting, attacking style of defense and they all seem to really enjoy coach VanGorder.”

On when the 2012 team began to sense something special was occurring: “It’s really one of those things I think it’s hard to pinpoint a moment because obviously it didn’t always go that way, but we went into every season looking at the games on our schedule and saying we can win every game, there’s no one on this schedule that we thought we couldn’t beat.

“Going into 2012 was no different, but it was one of those things that you just saw that kind of attention to every day paying off in dividends as the season went on. I think nationally for us it did a lot when we went down to Oklahoma and won there. I guess if you want to point to a moment it was maybe then, or the goal-line stand against Stanford, when you really start to say, all right, in so many years past we had seen the ball just not bounce our way at the end of the game and you know as well as I do to go undefeated, you have to have luck on your side sometimes and we happened to have it that.”

On the play of the offensive line: “They’re doing well. It’s kind of a new combination of guys this year. I know Steve Elmer, they put him out at right tackle. I know he played a lot more for us inside last year. He’s a true sophomore so he’s adjusting out there. It’s getting used to that cohesiveness. I know in the spring they were moving guys around, trying to figure out the best five, and I think that’s something that coach (Harry) Hiestand does better than almost anyone in the country, is finding the best five guys and make sure that they’re out there playing for us. I think obviously Lombard has been hampered a little by an injury but getting him back is going to help. But I think they’ve done a really good job.

“Pass protection, as I try to tell people, is a unit issue. It’s not just on the offensive line. It’s running backs and tight ends and the quarterback getting us in the right look. Giving up four sacks the last game is obviously not going to sit well with those guys but I thought aside from that they’ve done a great job with pass protection the first couple of games. The run game has looked great, we’ve got some unbelievably talented backs. I think the sky’s the limit for this offensive line group. There’s so much talent. These guys have been with coach Hiestand now for a few years and are really ingrained in his style of play and the things he’s looking for.”

On third-year offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, who arrived at Notre Dame when Golic was a fifth-year senior: “He is an incredibly selfless coach, a guy who is all about what’s best for the unit, what’s best for the team and doing everything he can to help each individual grow not only as a player but as a person off the field. I can’t say enough good things about coach Hiestand. My only regret is I didn’t get to spend more time with him as a coach. A phenomenal coach when it comes to teaching technique and the toughness that is required to play offensive line.

“Really his biggest thing coming in was really instilling that sense of pride in being a Notre Dame offensive lineman, that proud tradition that Notre Dame’s had in that unit, in that room. All of those intangibles that he brings to that room, that gritty toughness that you’re really starting to see be a hallmark again of Notre Dame offensive lines.”