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The 49-year-old hitting coach joined the Dodgers last week after three years in the same role with the Cardinals. McGwire grew up in Southern California and played at USC.

DAN PATRICK:How important was it for you to get back home to Southern California?

MARK MCGWIRE: Family is everything to me. That's one of the reasons I retired [as a player]. I got a call from [St. Louis G.M.] John Mozeliak, and we talked about my coming back to the Cardinals. He revealed that the Dodgers wanted to talk to me about the hitting coach job. I was taken aback, sort of holding in the emotions a little bit.

DP:You didn't pursue the Dodgers job?

MM: No, [Dodgers G.M.] Ned Colletti called Mozeliak and asked permission to talk to me. My wife and I had been talking about what we were going to do next season, because this last year was very hard on the family. We thought about it and told Mozeliak we'd like to interview [with L.A.]. It turned out it was a perfect fit. I get to work at home. I've never had that opportunity in my career.

DP:You were a home run hitter, not a pure hitter. Doesn't that make it difficult for you to coach hitters?

MM: Home run hitters are born, but hitting is hitting. Hitting is all about hitting strikes, knowing your strike zone, knowing what that pitcher is all about. That's stuff that I learned throughout my career. I got really good at mechanics.

DP:This summer you sat down with your two younger boys to talk about your career. What did you say?

MM: Dad's been through a lot. If you get on a computer today, a bunch of stuff comes up. My wife and I decided it was a good time to tell them what Daddy's career was about. This is what Daddy's done. Daddy stood up to what he needed to stand up to. Everybody makes mistakes. The big guys are the ones who can confront it, work through it, overcome it and become a better person because of it.

DP:How much of your career can fans believe in?

MM: I did what I did. If I never had injuries, I don't think I ever would have even thought of doing what I did. I didn't need to do anything for any more strength. I was already a home run hitter. You do stupid things in your life. You do things that you think might help you at the given time, not knowing what the ramifications are later on. It's something I have to live with every day. I'm O.K. with it. I've busted through it. I know I've become a better person because of it.

DP:Was it hard to receive all those accolades while you were playing, knowing what was going on?

MM: Back in those days you never had to think about it that way. I'm glad Major League Baseball has done what it's done to nip it in the bud. It's a great thing for all sports. I sort of wish I [had] the kind of guidelines that athletes have today because it would have never happened.

DP:Would you vote for yourself for the Hall of Fame?

MM: No, not by the guidelines they have now. I totally respect the Hall of Fame. They have rules. They have guidelines they go by. I totally abide by that. You'll never see Mark McGwire fight it.

The Number 1 motivator is fear. Fear of letting down your teammates, being embarrassed or losing the job. Where is the fear in Dallas? There's no fear in Dallas. It's a country club where everybody is buddies."

—JIMMY JOHNSON, Fox analyst, on the struggles of the Cowboys, his former team



Coach Brian Kelly is not bothered by fans who hate his Fighting Irish. "The Yankees do a great job of accentuating the positive, and I try to do the same thing," Kelly said. "I think [the passion] makes it even more exciting to be part of Notre Dame." ... I asked NBC analyst and former Magic coach Stan Van Gundy what advice he would offer on coaching Dwight Howard. "It's easy to coach him," Van Gundy said. "Dwight's one of the smartest people in the NBA. He's the smartest big guy I ever coached." ... Findlay, Ohio, native Ben Roethlisberger told me he might not have reached the NFL if he had gone to Ohio State instead of Miami (Ohio). "Ohio State was talking about moving me to tight end," Big Ben said. "I don't think I'd be an NFL tight end." ... Even notable alum Eddie George is skeptical about the undefeated Buckeyes and where they would fit in the title picture if they were bowl eligible. "I wouldn't put them in the top five," George told me. "I don't think their defense is good enough to compete with the best teams. The Big Ten this year overall is not very good."