Notre Dame: Cooks not viewing Pinstripe Bowl as audition

Notre Dame: Cooks not viewing Pinstripe Bowl as audition

December 26, 2013, 6:45 pm
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NEW YORK -- Some time after the Dec. 28 Pinstripe Bowl, Notre Dame will name a permanent defensive coordinator. It may be Kerry Cooks, it may be someone else.

But Cooks -- Notre Dame's interim defensive coordinator since Bob Diaco departed for UConn's head coaching gig earlier this month -- doesn't see the month of December as a tryout for the job.

"I've been asked, are you looking at this as an audition and this and that -- I look at this as an opportunity to have 15 more practices with our guys, to send your seniors out the right way with a win in this bowl game," Cooks said Thursday at Yankee Stadium. "Any of that other stuff about grooming and the expectation of will I remain in this role, will I not remain in this role, is not even on my mind. I'm just focused on making sure our guys go out and play the very best that they can."

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Cooks, who joined Notre Dame's coaching staff with Brian Kelly in 2010, served as Diaco's co-defensive coordinator in 2012 and 2013 and has coached cornerbacks since coming to South Bend. He hasn't changed much in the last month and doesn't anticipate anything more than a few minor tweaks for Saturday's game -- those 15 bowl practices aren't exactly conducive to doing things differently.

From a personal standpoint, where Cooks has noticed the greatest change is in his day-to-day operations.

"As a position coach, you're used to making suggestions, you're used to talking about specific techniques to that position," Cooks said. "I think over the last few weeks just sitting in that seat, it's more you're listening to those suggestions and actually making the decisions of the overall big picture from a schematic standpoint."

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For Notre Dame, basing a decision on Cooks' viability as a permanent coordinator off a few weeks of bowl practice may not make much sense. Cooks said it's tough to really push players hard during that stretch, with final exams and the redundancy of going against teammates setting in.

That fits with Cooks' mantra on Thursday, which had an "if it happens, it happens" tone to it.

Said Cooks: "I think the best thing that was told to me when (Diaco) left was I gotta be me and the other coaches gotta be themselves."