Jack Nolan, the friendly face and voice of Notre Dame football digital media and radio, took some time to talk to HLS this past week. You can find Jack in a million places surrounding Notre Dame Athletics, including Inside Notre Dame Football (posted every Monday) and The Brian Kelly Radio Show (Live Thursday Nights) on UND.com. Jack will also cover ND Hoops as the boys open up against Miss. Valley State at 2pm on 11/12 and you can find him on WSBT 960AM in the Bend and 890 AM in Chicago.
Jack holds court with Brian Kelly for his radio show at Legends
1. What was your first introduction to ND Football?
I used to watch the Sunday Morning Notre Dame Football Replay with Lindsey Nelson and Paul Hornung on Channel 56 in Boston. (Found out Coach Kelly used to do the same thing!) Cheered for the Irish, but also cheered for my Dad’s alma mater College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts.
2. Coaches come and coaches go. What parts of ND have stayed the same through all the coaches and teams you’ve reported on? What has changed over the years?
A remarkable combination of success on the field and in the classroom by the student athletes, reinforced by an even more remarkable level of success both on and off the field and in life overall after graduation. Notre Dame has always demanded its athletes achieve in the classroom, but the University is much tougher now academically than it was when I first arrived on campus in 1982.
3. How did you get started on this career path? And what led to your fairly recent transition over to the ND side of things from WNDU?
I always wanted to be a sportscaster. I used to take a tape recorder to Fenway Park and Boston Garden and do my own Red Sox and Celtic broadcasts. I then worked on my high school radio station before moving on to the University of Missouri where I was the sports director of KCOU radio, the student station, and then moved on to work at the University’s NBC television affiliate KOMU where I became the 6:00 pm Sports Anchor. From there took a job with a start-up network you may have heard of, CNN. At CNN I was a sports producer, reporter and anchor before moving on to WNDU as a sports anchor in 1982. The best thing about the job at WNDU was the opportunity it provided me to do the play-by-play of Notre Dame Football on TV and basketball on the radio.
I was approached in 2006 and asked if I would like to go to work for Notre Dame Sports Properties full-time to handle the announcing and reporting duties for all the in-house TV and Radio productions and the newly expanding video efforts on und.com. Of course I said yes.
4. What is your official job title and description? What do you spend most of your time doing day to day? And, do you consider yourself the luckiest man in the world to have it?
I am the Director of Media Productions for Fighting Irish Digital Media (formerly the video and radio arm of Notre Dame Sports Properties). I handle the on-air and on-camera duties for the football and basketball coaches’ TV and Radio Shows, the official Notre Dame Football Postgame Radio Show, the play-by-play of Notre Dame men’s basketball on the Notre Dame Basketball Radio Network and the daily reporting and hosting duties on projects too numerous to mention for und.com. I spend my days preparing for these broadcasts and webcasts while also handling the administrative duties involved with the Coach Show TV Network and our various radio networks, from dealing with the affiliates to creating the commercial formats and making sure all the production pieces are in place for each project.
Yes, I am a lucky guy!
5. Tell us a memorable story about an event, game, or interview that’s really stuck in your mind over the years?
One of those moments that when you look back, you chuckle, or find it hard to believe that actually happened. My first year announcing Notre Dame Football on WNDU, I was asked on air to predict the score of the first game I was going to announce, which happened to be against Purdue. I just pulled 28-14 Notre Dame out of the air. Notre Dame won 28-14, which was a sign to me that I had made the right decision to leave CNN and come to Notre Dame! As far as interviews that have stood out, there are so many. And the theme that stands out is how much Notre Dame means to the athletes who have played here, and how their experience at Notre Dame becomes even more meaningful to them as they grow older.
6. What’s your perspective on the shifts going on in media as it relates to College Football. The rise of blogs, podcasts, independent new sites, etc etc.? Is it a good thing? Bad? A bit of both?
The rise of the internet has allowed some very talented people to produce some outstanding writing and reporting on College Football. There are many more voices and perspectives out there than ever before. The responsible blogs are a positive. The irresponsible blogs are a negative. The downside is reading printed words on a computer screen sometimes gives them a credibility they do not deserve. And fan chat boards that allow virtually anyone to anonymously launch vicious personal attacks on players and coaches are not a good thing.
7. When you look at this year’s team, what’s the one thing about them that would surprise fans to learn?
This yea’s team has a great chemistry. They really like to be around each other, even when they don’t have to be. It’s not forced, its real.
8. Lightning Round:
Holtz or Ara? Pick between two Legends who are not only great men but have been great to me? No way!
Pass or Run? Run
Blue or Gold? Gold
USC or Michigan? USC
Pizza or Burgers? Pizza
OL or DL? OL (Irish All-American Offensive Lineman and Post-Game Show Co-Host Mirko Jurkovic would kill me if I picked DL!)
Late Nights or Early Mornings? Late Nights
Derivatives Trading or Breakfast? Breakfast. Derivatives trading made our economy sick!
Thanks Jack for taking the time, and for all you do for ND!