The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are about to have its most active offseason for coaching changes in the Brian Kelly era. While there are more guesses and theories at this point as to how the staff may look come spring, this morning’s announcement will start to get the ball rolling down hill pretty fast.
#HilltopperNation, welcome your new head coach BACK to The Hill, Mike Sanford! #WelcomeBack— WKU Football (@WKUFootball) December 14, 2016
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Here are a few thoughts about what could be in store for the Irish. These are just a few quick points, as I am not married to any one idea or theory.
Jeff Quinn finally gets his shot.
Ever since Notre Dame hired Brian Kelly, fans have wondered when Quinn would take his place at Kelly’s side. Obviously, Quinn took the head coaching job at Buffalo and he wasn’t an option for a while.
Quinn has been on the staff for the past few years, but in one of those “advisor” roles. With so much riding on this season and the need for Kelly to get everything on track, I almost expect him to promote Quinn to the OC job. I fully believe Kelly will call the plays in 2017 anyways, and Denbrock would keep his assistant head coach role.
Quinn makes it special for Kelly.
As horrible as the special teams were this year, perhaps instead of looking around the staff and trying to find a coach that half-ass volunteers to coach special teams, I submit that Brian Kelly take on that role. If he does promote Quinn, perhaps there is a level of trust there that would allow Kelly to devote more time to the unit that just keeps on sliding downward.
New defensive coordinator, and new coaches.
Whoever Notre Dame hires as its next defensive coordinator, he will be allowed to create his own staff. I have no idea what this will all entail, but I imagine at least one or two current Irish staffers will be let go, find new homes, or moved. It could get a bit tricky depending upon a variety of scenarios. I think Mike Elston would be safe, but maybe that’s it for now.
Still one spot left.
With the ousting of Scott Booker and the departure of Mike Sanford, that leaves two spots open on the offensive staff (or team as a whole really). However, with my Quinn theory, that leaves one spot. Perhaps Kelly goes out and tries to find the best special teams coach available. Maybe he uses it to keep a defensive guy on staff that the new DC would like to replace... I don’t know. Maybe we will start hearing some names being tossed around.
On several message boards, there has been talk about a possible move with Paul Longo, the strength and conditioning coach and trusted Brian Kelly captain. The short version is that other staff members are asking the players to tell Kelly how big of a problem Longo is when Kelly interviews all the players for his yearly wrap. How much truth there is to all of it, I can not say. However, if Kelly does make a move here, I would consider it to be the biggest sign that Kelly is willing to do whatever it takes to win next year- even dismissing a trusted friend and loyal supporter.
Still a lot to learn.
Those are just a few options and theories, and the whole thing could end up a lot messier than any of that. There is plenty to keep an eye on over the next few weeks, and hopefully we will start getting some concrete decisions being announced.