Golic Family Spans The Generations at Notre Dame

Feature Story

By Daniel Murphy, Special to Forever Irish

Last August, when Jake and his shaggy head of light brown hair arrived on campus, he was one of more than 2,000 new freshmen at Notre Dame – and one of 440 freshmen with a family legacy. Jake’s father went to ND and Jake’s mother went to Saint Mary’s. Two of his uncles went to Notre Dame, and his big brother Mike was starting his sophomore year – the typical Domer family. But his story is a little bit different; Jake’s last name is Golic.

When Jake squeezed that shaggy head of hair into a freshly painted gold helmet, he became the fifth Golic to play football for the Fighting Irish. It would be a stretch to say that a ton of Golics have played at Notre Dame – with four linemen and a wide receiver, it’s only about 1,200 pounds.


Bob Golic was 17 years old when he dug the first Golic-filled cleats into the lush green grass in Notre Dame Stadium.  He immediately had a sense of the history surrounding him. “You knew you were part of something special,” he said. “Not just that day, but you were part of the history book. You were in there with Knute and all the other greats, it was pretty incredible.”

bobgolic “You knew you were part of something special. Not just that day, but you were part of the history book. You were in there with Knute (Rockne) and all the other greats; it was pretty incredible.”

–Bob Golic, on playing at
Notre Dame Stadium at the
age of 17 as a freshman

It was 1975. Golic, a freshman, was watching the Irish take on Purdue in the second collegiate game of his career. When the starting middle linebacker went down with an injury, Golic trotted confidently into the huddle and started a legacy that has stretched for over three decades. He had no idea he was starting a whole new history book.

Bob went on to be named a four-time All-American (two in football and two in wrestling), the MVP of the 1977 National Championship game, and a three time NFL Pro Bowler. He still remembers that first Saturday in Notre Dame Stadium.

“I remember watching the offense break the huddle. As they lined up the sun was just gleaming off those helmets. I literally took a step back and thought this was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. I never stopped appreciating it.”

And the light has never stopped shining. The year after Bob turned in his jersey, Greg Golic came to South Bend. Greg was small throughout his high school days and didn’t start playing football until his senior year. Despite the late start, Greg made the Notre Dame team as an offensive lineman and eventually flirted with a professional career of his own.

In Greg’s sophomore year he was joined by his younger brother Mike. Mike was an All-American at defensive end before playing eight years in the NFL for the Houstion Oilers, Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins.

Even after their playing days were over, the spotlight stayed brightly fixed on the Golic family. Mike and Bob are best known today for their roles in the sports broadcasting business.


Mike has done everything in sports broadcasting from play-by-play on Monday Night Football to ringside announcing with the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling league. He is best known for his award-winning radio show, “Mike and Mike in the Morning” on ESPN Radio. He and co-host Mike Greenberg have the most listened-to sports radio show in the country. He believes they are so successful, in part, because they have made their families such a big part of the show.  “I’ve had my days and I’ve had my fun,” he said. “I’m just so into what [the kids] are doing now that I can’t help it.”

Bob has also had an eventful career after football. After retiring from the Raiders in 1992, he decided to stay in Los Angeles and try his hand at acting. He landed a job as Mike Rogers, the resident assistant on Saved By The Bell: The College Years. The show only lasted one season, but it started a much longer career for Bob. He returned to sports where he had his own radio show and began doing pregame coverage for NBC and CNN/SI. He now hosts an eclectic talk radio show near his hometown of Cleveland.

Bob once set a team record by racking up 26 tackles against Michigan in Notre Dame Stadium, but Cleveland was the host to his most memorable performance. In 1988, while he was still playing for the Cleveland Browns, Bob was asked to play the head executioner in Puccini’s “Turandot.” The minority owner of the Browns was a big Cleveland opera supporter and was looking for a way to attract a crowd. Golic thought he was the attraction, but the real draw was his wardrobe.

“When I showed up they handed me a hanger. All that was on it was a mask and a G-string,” he said. “I’ve never been so happy to have a mask in my life.” He was traded to the Raiders the following year.

Greg, after blowing out his knee in a final effort to make it to the NFL, traded in his facemask for a keyboard. He is currently a software engineer at Lockheed Martin. He keeps himself busy coaching a pair of youth baseball teams for his own children. His oldest, Greg Jr., started his high school football career last fall.

Greg said he doesn’t mind his relative anonymity compared to his two brothers. “I’d rather have them as brothers than not as brothers. It doesn’t bug me at all.”  He said the one thing that does bother him is how rarely he gets to see them because of their crazy schedules. They were once inseparable. Now, they are lucky to meet a few times a year.


Mike and Greg were always the closest. They spent most of their time in the tiny Midwest town of Willowick, Ohio on the baseball diamond down the street. Like any brothers, they were competitive. Bob was a few years older and so his brothers would usually team up on him. “They had a good little team going,” Bob said. “They would go after me and then my dad would tell me, ‘Remember Bobby, You’re bigger than them.’ So I would have to get my shots in when he wasn’t looking.”

One thing the Golics never fought over was football. Mike could remember a specific practice at Notre Dame when the line coach tried to pit the two Golics against one another. It was the last few minutes of practice and the coach called for a Golic showdown. “Let’s see which one of you is better,” he yelled. They refused.

Denying orders from a coach on the practice field is as unheard of as leftovers at the Golic family dinner table. “He pulled me aside afterwards and said, ‘Don’t you ever show me up like that again.’ I told him never to try to match me up and showboat my brother and I,” Mike said. “I wasn’t doing it, not in that context.”

Greg remembers the incident as well, and plenty others like it. “We’ll be out getting some food or something and someone always feels the need to slap you on the back and ask who would win in a battle,” he said. His brothers may be All-Americans, but at a stocky 6-foot-9 Greg is no push-over. The boys were much too close to ever get in to a serious battle.

In fact, they were so close that Greg convinced his rector in Dillon Hall to reserve an adjoining room for his little brother for his freshman year. They lived together for three of the four years they were at Notre Dame. Bob wasn’t left out either. He made regular trips up to South Bend to make “deliveries” and relive the old college days. All three of the grown Golics said those visits were the best times they had at school.


A generation later, Mike Jr. welcomed his own younger brother on to campus. He said he wanted Jake to see the campus on his own first, but he could see them living together in the future.

Mike and Jake are 18 months apart in age. They hang out with the same group of high school buddies; they consider themselves best friends.  Of course, they have their friendly family rivalry, but they, too, keep it away from the football field.

mikegolicjr. jakegolic
Mike Golic, Jr.
Jake Golic

When Jake first learned that he would be going to Notre Dame, a reporter asked him what he was most excited about. It wasn’t seeing Touchdown Jesus, or putting on a gold helmet or even running out of the tunnel on game day. It was being able to do all those things with his brother by his side. “There aren’t very many people who get that chance. I’m pretty excited about it,” he said.

The boys first got a chance to play together at Northwest Catholic High School. The 650-student parochial school sits just west of the Hartford, Conn. city limits. The one story school building hides the football field with one set of bleachers where the Indians play their home games.

The Indians won four straight conference titles and made it to the state semi-finals twice during Mike and Jake’s careers. They were both All-State players and team captains in their senior seasons. Mike started at center for three years and Jake played tight end and wide receiver.

Both Golic boys had impressive high school careers on the field and in the classroom. But, when the boys signed on to play for the Irish, they were met with a ton of criticism.


The family’s critics wondered why Charlie Weis and his recruiters made the trip to a tiny Catholic school in Connecticut – a state not exactly known for its high school football. They thought the Golics were getting a free pass because of their family history. The boys and their family listened to bitter complaints from their own classmates and others across the country.

When Mike Jr. was invited to the 2008 Army High School All-American Game, internet message boards filled up with hateful rants. “If Golic is the future at ND, Charlie Weis is in for another long year,” one fan thought. Another responded, “Golic sucks, why is he even there? He belongs on a Div. II field somewhere.”

Mike just kept working, getting bigger and getting stronger. “It gets under your skin,” he said. “But at the same time it’s a lot of motivation for what you want to get done.”

Jake was invited to the same game the following year and the angry fans spouted off again. The page was titled, “Something Truly Pathetic: Jake Golic is an All-American.”

At 17 years old, Jake just shook it off. “Those judgments are based on what some 40-year old dude at a computer thinks of me. He’s never seen me play. I try not to let it bug me because I know I’m better than that.”

Jake said that his father believes he is good enough to make it and that is enough for him.  “They have no idea how hard my boys have worked. They have no idea the sacrifices it takes, for all of the athletes not just my boys, to play big-time ball,” Mike Sr. said. “You have such a limited amount of scholarships to give out each year. To think that you could just give a couple of them away makes no sense. No coach could afford to do that.”

Mike and Jake both got looks from big schools all over the country like Purdue, Syracuse, Boston College, Ohio State and Florida. But, as soon as Notre Dame made an offer the search was over.

It was exactly what their dad was afraid of. He wanted to make sure that the family history had no effect on where they chose to go to school. He first addressed the issue on a trip to the University of Florida. In Mike’s junior year, Gator’s head coach Urban Meyer invited him to tour the Gainseville campus. Jake came along to get a taste of the process. The day before meeting Coach Meyer, the three Golics sat down to eat at the hotel restaurant. “I sat them down and told them, ‘Look, the last thing I want you to do is feel like you have to go where I went. That absolutely cannot come into the equation,’” Golic said.

Both sons remembered the meal well. They said their dad was very fair, and didn’t apply any pressure. He didn’t have to. One trip to Notre Dame was all it took to jog the memory of annual childhood tailgates, painted chests and their favorite wins. Mike was the first recruit to commit in his class, so was Jake. Although that shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to their father, he was too.

Mike Jr. first got the good news when he was touring Italy on a class trip. The group was hanging out at the Tower of Pisa when Mike Sr. called and told him he should get in touch with Weis. Rather than wait a couple of days to be on American soil, Mike called immediately and accepted the scholarship. “It wouldn’t have mattered even if we were at the Vatican, I would’ve told the Pope to hang on a few minutes to talk to (Notre Dame),” he said.

By the time he got to school for orientation, Mike knew more about the campus and the team’s history than his tour guide. It was the same history that had convinced his Uncle Bob to leave his home state of Ohio and play for the Irish 35 years before.

Mike and Jake both understand the pressure that goes along with being a Golic in the blue and gold. They understand that because of their father’s fame, they will be under the microscope for every day of their Notre Dame careers.  “It is a lot to live up to,” Jake said. “I just want to go and do the best I can and rep the name the best I can,”

At the same time, the new generation wants to be remembered as more than just Mike Golic’s sons.

“For me it’s not so much about the pressure of living up to the name as it is of making my own name,” he said. “I never want to not be a Golic. But I still have my own goals and accomplishments I’d like to achieve.”

When Mike Jr. played most of the 2009 Blue-Gold game at center, his whole family was there to cheer him on. The Golic townhouse just east of campus was overflowing with relatives and old friends. It was the first time a Golic played in Notre Dame Stadium since Mike Sr. graduated in 1985. The crew made their way into the stadium, Mike Sr. settled into his seat with his wife on one side and his mom on the other.

When the game started, he noticed something funny happening. “I couldn’t take my eyes off of Mike. I had no clue where the ball was,” he said. “I thought, wait a minute, I do this for a living. I should be able to watch everything. I just had to sit back and laugh a little bit.”

To Mike Golic, the most important thing he does today is raise his kids.  He and his wife, Chris, also have a 14-year old daughter named Sydney. Sydney has no plans to join her brothers on the gridiron, but she is a nationally-ranked swimmer and has her sights set on the Fighting Irish pool.

Come this fall, Mike will be back at Notre Dame Stadium to watch his two sons run out of the tunnel next to one another, as Mike Jr. makes a bid for playing time at center, and Jake strives to reach the field as a tight end.

Mike Jr. and Jake like to tell their dad that he is old news. They are going to be the “upgraded models, Golics 2.0.”

Nothing would make dad happier.