Harry Hiestand, who coached six future NFL offensive linemen in six seasons at Notre Dame, has lost his job with the Chicago Bears.
Hiestand was one of four firings Tuesday following the Windy City club’s 8-8 finish. News of the Malvern, Pa. native’s dismissal set Notre Dame Twitter ablaze, as fans immediately speculated about what would be next for the 61-year-old.
Woah. Hiestand’s family is still in South Bend..... just saying ♀️ https://t.co/ytjZjVYQ8X— Olivia Ray (@OliviaRayWISH) December 31, 2019
Hire Harry. Move Quinn to TE’s. Make Tommy OC. pic.twitter.com/FeJq8IkmGU— One Foot Down (@OneFootDown) December 31, 2019
Notre Dame’s 2017 line — Tommy Kraemer, Alex Bars, Sam Mustipher, Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey — won the Joe Moore Award, given annually to the nation’s best college football offensive line. At the time of their award — prior to the Citrus Bowl win against the LSU Tigers — the Irish running attack had averaged 279.1 rushing yards per hame, had 39 runs of 20 or more yards, kept the pocket clean on 77 percent of pass plays and made Josh Adams look like a bona fide Heisman candidate for half a season.
Hiestand is largely credited with the collegiate successes of Nelson, McGlinchey, Zack Martin, Nick Martin, Ronnie Stanley and Chris Watt. All except Watt are still playing in the NFL. Stanley, Nelson and Zack Martin were selected to the Pro Bowl this year.
In his 38-year coaching career, Hiestand has been a offensive line coach for all but five of those years. Notre Dame has an offensive coordinator vacancy, but it has an offensive line coach. That’s Jeff Quinn, a longtime Brian Kelly associate who replaced Hiestand two years ago.
Quinn has been with Kelly for 21 of his 26 years coaching, which includes stops at Grand Valley State, Central Michigan and Cincinnati.
Kelly suggested Dec. 14 during a news conference that his new offensive coordinator could be a former offensive line, tight ends or quarterbacks coach.
“That’s not to say I want to move any of the coaches I have,” he told those assembled. “I’ve got good football coaches. ... I don’t know how to say this any clearer. I’m going to do what it’s in the best interest of this football team. Not me. I’m not going to do what’s in my best interest.
“I had to let go of guys that stood up in my wedding. So I’m not afraid to make tough choices. I’m going to make decisions that are in the best interest of Notre dame’s football program and give us the best chance to win a national championship.”
Readers: What do you think? Would you welcome back Hiestand and move or fire Quinn to accommodate him? Should he take over as offensive coordinator? Or has Hiestand’s time passed him by and his hatred of recruiting be a disqualifier during the Kelly 3.0 era?