Mike Brey recognizes that the college basketball world he’s leaving behind is not the one he entered. More than ever, players are entering the transfer portal if they think they can thrive better elsewhere, and signees and commits can change their minds at any time. Like in Brey’s case, the coach who recruited a player often leaves before the player can arrive on campus, and that can cause the player to second-guess their decision. Add the recent NIL emergence, and it gets even more complicated.
Brey was asked about his role in recruiting and retaining players for his remaining tenure after Notre Dame’s 84-72 loss to Boston College. He was asked because the program’s future just became a more pressing issue for those who will remain in the program as well as the entire fan base. While results aren’t guaranteed, it helps to know there is at least effort being put into a process that becomes more complicated with each passing year.
Here is what Brey said:
On whether he will attempt to retain the underclassmen and incoming freshmen
“Absolutely. One of the things I’ve talked to our younger players about and the three young men that we’ve signed ([autotag]Markus Burton[/autotag], [autotag]Parker Friedrichsen[/autotag] and [autotag]Brady Dunlap[/autotag]) is, ‘Don’t knee-jerk. I’ve been in this a long time. Give us a chance. One of the reasons (you signed) was you love Notre Dame and the education and a lot of those things.’ So while everyone will pull at those guys, and I get it, ‘Just don’t knee-jerk, and let us finish the semester academically, finish the season with this staff as we work with you to work and help you get better, and meet the new guy.’ I think that’s always a good theme.”
On players no longer being held to their commitments the way they once were
“Back in the day, you remember you were able to hold onto a kid by not giving him his release. You can play games with him a little bit. That’s certainly a 180 now, brotha. They can roll at anytime, but (athletic directors) used to sit on the release and say, ‘I’ll give you your release, but you gotta meet the new coach first.”
On a similar situation that arose when he first arrived at Notre Dame
“And actually, I have a flashback to [autotag]Chris Thomas[/autotag] and [autotag]Jordan Cornette[/autotag]. Now, they weren’t signed, but when Matt (Doherty) left and I got the job, oh, I mean, you know (people were saying), ‘Chris is gonna go to Indiana.’ ‘He’s going to Purdue.’ I mean, this is (Indiana) Mr. Basketball. And Jordan. And everybody was on him, and fortunately, I said, ‘Look, just hang with me, and get up to campus in August when you get off the road in July playing AAU. Of course, I was babysitting every game and probably bumping their parents illegally in every breaststroke on campus ’cause we had to keep them. And they both came to campus. And of course, with Chris Thomas, and a little bit with some of these freshmen coming: ‘Hey, nothing’s changed. You’re gonna start at Notre Dame if you work with me now.’
So my job, ’cause it’s what’s best for the program, is manage that and try and get guys. And the kids that have signed’s parents, they get it. Now at the end of the day, you can open it back up or whatever, but our new coach, he’ll recruit ’em, and I’ll help him.”
On whether he talked to the incoming freshmen about his departure
“I did. I talked to them, talked to their parents, and they’re disappointed, but it’s kind of an ‘Understand the business’, but I told them I’m here for them to help them as a resource. But my No. 1 theme with the parents was, ‘Just don’t knee-jerk. Just finish your high school season. Let us get in the process of hiring a new coach, and you gotta meet with him, gotta meet with the new guy.’ And I think they’ll do that.”