Director of football performance Matt Balis tells players he plans to stay at Notre Dame

Tyler James
ND Insider
Notre Dame director of football performance Matt Balis fires up the Irish before the ND’s 2019 season opener Sept. 2 at Louisville.

Matt Balis couldn’t have made his intentions sound any clearer. 

“This is where I want to be,” Notre Dame’s director of football performance told players Tuesday inside the Guglielmino Athletics Complex. “I want to die here. If I can die coaching you guys in here for the rest of my life, this is where I want to be.” 

Video of Balis’ speech to members of the Irish football team during a workout Tuesday was shared on the football program’s official Twitter account. Intentions stated with gusto don’t always hold weight in college football this time of year, but a source confirmed with ND Insider that Balis indeed plans to remain at Notre Dame beyond the end of this season. 

Multiple reports indicated Balis was offered a position to join former Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly at LSU. 

Balis joined Notre Dame’s program in 2017 after Kelly was forced to make sweeping changes to his coaching staff and strength and conditioning program following a 4-8 season. Former and current Notre Dame players have praised Balis for the impact he’s made on their careers and credited him for helping push the program in the right direction. “Built by Balis” is one of the slogans often cited. 

Starting right guard Cain Madden, who graduate transferred to Notre Dame from Marshall as a second-team All-American this past offseason, spoke earlier this season about the adjustment he had to make when joining the Irish in June. 

“Coming in with coach Balis, he’s a different animal now,” Madden said in September. “Coach Balis is a great guy. He and his staff — oh my goodness. Nothing but great words about all those guys in that room.  

“It was hard, but it was fun. To get around the team and see them work and how hard they worked, it opened my eyes up and I realized I made a good decision.” 

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Balis has trained 14 first-round and 13 second-round NFL Draft picks in strength and conditioning programs at Utah, Florida, Virginia, Mississippi State, UConn and Notre Dame. 

“The culture didn’t leave,” running back C’Bo Flemister wrote when he retweeted the video of Balis’ speech.

The slightly edited video offered a telling glimpse of the motivation that Balis helps provide players in addition to his training expertise. 

"For me and our family, we want to be at Notre Dame,” Balis said in the video. “That's what we want. Who you guys are, that's who I always wanted to be. You're who I look up to. So for me to be able to have an opportunity here is a blessing. To be able to stay here is a huge blessing.  

“Right now for you guys, the most important thing is you have to move forward and do what you were meant to do, which is finish this season off the right way.  

“Now here's what I'm going to tell you. An angry team is a very dangerous team. So a lot of you guys are a little bit angry right now. That's OK. That's good. You can utilize that. It's not good all the time. The most powerful motivator is love. But right now you're angry, and so you're going to use that anger. That's a good thing. That's OK.  

“But an angry team that cares about each other, loves each other and decides no matter what happens we're going to get (edited expletive) done from what we started, you're going to destroy the opponent that you go against. I'm just telling you. Whether it's in the College Football Playoff, whether it's a New Year's Six bowl, it doesn't matter who it is. This team, we're going to destroy the opponent.  

“I'm telling you right now. I can look you in the (edited expletive) eyes, and I can see it. So that's what you have to focus on.  

“Blessed, like I said, that I get to still be a part of this and be with you guys. This is where I want to be. I want to die here. If I can die coaching you guys in here for the rest of my life, this is where I want to be."

Follow ND Insider Tyler James on Twitter: @TJamesNDI.