FOOTBALL: O'Leary says goodbye, hello to Godsey family
Associate Sports Editor
Three years ago, as a high school senior, quarterback Gary Godsey had an important decision in front of him. The choice lay between playing football at Georgia Tech and playing football at Notre Dame. Georgia Tech offered a solid coach who Gary's brother, George, had raved about, a coach his parents would have chosen for him. Notre Dame didn't need a coaching staff to impress Gary — it was enough to say it was Notre Dame.
On Sunday, with the announcement that former Georgia Tech head coach George O'Leary was now the head coach at Notre Dame, Gary Godsey found the best of both worlds.
"I started seeing when there were rumors about Coach O'Leary, but you think of that being such a long shot," John Godsey, Gary's father, said following the announcement. "But I guess as far as if it were scripted, it couldn't be scripted any better for the Godsey family."
On Sunday, The family, brothers in particular, that had been separated by thousands of miles and different team loyalties, found a little unity.
On Sunday morning O'Leary left part of the Godsey family behind when he said farewell to George Godsey, the Yellow Jacket's senior quarterback. But when he stepped foot onto the Notre Dame campus, he said hello to another part of the Godsey family.
"I never regretted coming to Notre Dame," Gary Godsey said. "And it's just funny to me — he saw my brother this morning and now he's here, coaching me. It's funny, but it's exciting and I'm happy."
O'Leary was an outside chance candidate for Irish head coach, as far as the speculating fans were concerned, and now that he has been named to head the Irish, questions remain about his coaching style, his personality, and his ability. But Gary Godsey can rest in the fact that, even if he hasn't had much experience working with O'Leary, his brother has. At Georgia Tech, under the new Irish head coach, George Godsey started at quarterback and led his team to a Seattle Bowl bid this season. With that experience behind him, George Godsey can expect plenty of phone calls from his brother.
"His brother will be able to give him a lot of insight because he's never been on the practice field with George O'Leary," John Godsey said. "Whatever he hasn't learned from George, he'll learn over the phone."
Other members of the Irish team seem to agree that Gary Godsey might have the upper hand when they step onto the practice field for spring football.
"Gary, he's a Godsey," Irish quarterback Carlyle Holiday joked when asked if Gary Godsey would help the team understand O'Leary. "So he probably has an advantage over all of us."
Although Gary Godsey can count on his brother to offer him some insight into working with O'Leary, the insight will end with what position the two played. When O'Leary recruited Gary Godsey, the senior from Tampa was a quarterback and O'Leary had an unknowing glimpse into the future.
"It's funny," O'Leary said. "When we were recruiting him, I said you're going to be a tight end and he said `No, no no.' Well, he's a tight end. We were laughing about it today and he said `I knew you were going to bring that up.'"
Gary Godsey had his share of problems as the Irish signal caller last season. After Arnaz Battle was inured, Gary Godsey took an uncertain role as quarterback early in the season only to be re-placed by freshman Matt LoVecchio. According to Gary Godsey's father, that uncertainty regarding roles will end with O'Leary's tenure.
"Last year was tough because Gary had played quarterback but there were some other plans the team had without Gary being a part of them," John Godsey said. "Coach O'Leary won't have any of that. There won't be any indecision."
Both O'Leary and Gary Godsey have agreed that there will be no attempts for the tight end to switch to his brother's role. But, perhaps there will be an opportunity to make some more offensive plays.
"I think Gary feels pretty comfortable playing tight end," John Godsey said. "I think the reason he was never going to play quarterback at Georgia Tech was because of his brother. I still would like to see him come out and throw a pass sometimes."
Gary Godsey may have a chance to do exactly that. O'Leary is known for his explosive offense, one that is quite different from the conservative option offense the Irish were running under former head coach Bob Davie. With an offense that could utilize the pass more often, Godsey may get his share of plays.
"If [O'Leary] brings the offense I know he's going to bring, I think Notre Dame is going to go ecstatic," John Godsey said. "It constantly keeps people off balance ... I think the tight end at Georgia tech was very involved with the offense and I think its something that the fans at Notre Dame want."
But as far as Gary Godsey himself is concerned, whatever the play choices are and wherever O'Leary has been, athletic director Kevin White's decision was the right one.
"It's been ... exciting," he said. "I know the team is happy with the decision Dr. White has made. We're just anxious to get started with spring football."
All Sports Stories for Monday, December 10, 2001