Swarbrick readies Notre Dame for the future

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Swarbrick had an extensive career as an attorney, served as chairman of the Indiana Sports Corporation from 1992-2001 and has been involved in numerous projects connected to college and Olympic sports. He was also instrumental in securing the Super Bowl for Indianapolis in 2012.

He quickly points to two black boxes on a shelf that contain the bid for the Super Bowl, one that he authored. It was a project he called “the ultimate political campaign.”

After Charlie Weis was fired following last season’s 6-6 finish, Swarbrick had another campaign of sorts. His responsibility was to find the right man for one of the most high profile jobs in American sports.

He set up a screening process and got input from players. He emphasized it wasn’t about chasing a big name as much as it was about finding someone who fit the profile he’d established.

He also talked with Parseghian and got great insight from the former coach.

“For the football coach at Notre Dame, the basketball coach at UCLA, those iconic positions in the industry, you got to be careful,” Swarbrick said. “You have to manage it in a way. You got to be willing to reach out and be creative.

Ara said something that was really important to me as I was working through criteria. He said, ‘I needed every year I had as a head coach to be able to coach at Notre Dame.’”

After the initial screening process narrowed the field to 18 candidates and then down to nine, Kelly emerged, a 48-year-old with nearly two decades of head coaching experience. “To find somebody Brian’s age who coached for 19 years as a head coach is extraordinary,” Swarbrick said.

Of course it didn’t hurt that Kelly had transformed programs at each of his three previous stops _ Grand Valley State, Central Michigan and Cincinnati, where his 2009 team was 12-0 in the regular season behind a modern spread offense.

Now, Swarbrick will be watching intently when the Irish take the field at Notre Dame Stadium on Sept. 4 for their first game under a new coach _ one that Swarbrick brought to campus.

Finding down time can be difficult for Swarbrick during these busy days. He relishes any opportunity he can spend around college or Olympic athletes because they help him deal with whatever stress he might encounter. And they’re never far away.

“There are days that are tough in this job,” Swarbrick said, “but if I’m having a bad day, I walk out to practice.”

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