The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are in the middle of an assistant coach hunt, but they might be nearing the end. I’m not sure if there are two positions more in need of a great hire than for the safeties and the offensive line — although I understand if you want to throw Tom Rees out for scrutiny.
Before we get into the position coach stuff, we should address the fact that Chip Long will be returning next year as the Irish offensive coordinator. Long had been rumored as a strong candidate for the offensive coordinator position with the Alabama Crimson Tide, but that didn’t work out. Long turned down an offer that would have made him the co-offensive coordinator with Mike Locksley.
So, that little heart attack is over, and Notre Dame is focused on filling its needs at Safety and the Offensive Line. Let’s take a quick look...
As of right now, there are three candidates that the Irish are looking at to replace Harry Hiestand:
JUSTIN FRYE, Boston College Eagles. Offensive Line Coach & Running Game Coordinator
If I had my pick of the lot right now, Frye would be my number one choice. I don’t know exactly how much Notre Dame likes him, but he’s in the mix. Boston College has a reputation as a team with a strong and tough offensive line, and they did quite well on the ground last year. Those facts, plus his young age of 34 make him an attractive option as an up and comer. He coached the offensive line for the Temple Owls after Matt Rhule left to coach with the New York Giants.
BOB BOSTAD, Wisconsin Badgers. Linebackers Coach
That’s not a misprint — Notre Dame is looking to possibly hire a linebackers coach for the offensive line. Well... not really, actually. Bostad has a very serious and good resume under his belt. Here are the juicy bits... from 2006-2011 he was the running game coordinator for the Badgers. During that time he also coached the tight ends and the offensive line. Think about Wisconsin football for a minute, and you’ll realize that this is a high quality coach. He also coached in the NFL as the offensive line coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Tennessee Titans.
JOE GILBERT, Indianapolis Colts. Assistant Offensive Line Coach
Gilbert has been with the Colts since 2012, and before that he had a somewhat unimpressive few stops at the college level. He was with the Illinois Fighting Illini when Chip Long was there, so the two know each other and are familiar with the style of coaching. Of the three, I’d have to think that this would rank behind the other two on a few different levels.
The departure of Mike Elko not only left a hole as a defensive coordinator and playcaller, but also as the safeties coach. There is a general consensus among Notre Dame insiders that the Irish just don’t have good football players at safety right now. What Elko was able to do with the defense in 2017 — a defense that is safety driven — was quite incredible. Notre Dame hopes to expand on that success with 10 starters returning, and possibly a few new bodies at safety.
They’ll need a good safety coach to help Clark Lea settle in, and they might have found their man.
TERRY JOSEPH, North Carolina Tar Heels. Defensive Backs Coach
The word on the street is that Joseph is the man Notre Dame will get to coach their safeties. He has a fairly impressive resume:
- North Carolina Tar Heels 2017 - Present Defensive Backs Coach
- Texas A&M Aggies 2014 - 2016 Defensive Backs Coach
- Nebraska Cornhuskers 2012 - 2013 Secondary Coach
- Tennessee Volunteers 2010 - 2012 Defensive Backs Coach / Recruiting Coordinator
- Louisiana Tech Bulldogs 2007 - 2009 Recruiting Coordinator / Secondary Coach
He has a good history of solid defensive back play and recruiting success — two things that seem vital to the Notre Dame football program right now.
Probably more waiting. The vetting process at Notre Dame is a terribly long affair, so it may still take a couple of weeks to finalize everything. We are about 18 days away from National Signing Day, and can at least expect something on all fronts to be settled no later than a few days before the big day.