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Notre Dame Football: Harry Hiestand OUT as Irish offensive line coach

Retirement is on the way for Harry

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: APR 23 Notre Dame Spring Game Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are going to need a new offensive line coach. Shortly before the Super Bowl, Notre Dame announced that Harry Hiestand is stepping away from football to spend more time with his family.

The full Notre Dame press release:

Harry Hiestand Announces Retirement

After 40 years coaching offensive line in college and the NFL, Hiestand steps away from coaching to spend more time with his family.

SOUTH BEND, IN - Harry Hiestand, a 40-year collegiate coaching veteran who returned to Notre Dame in 2022 for a second time as the Joe Moore Offensive Line Coach, has announced his retirement from coaching.

“I have made the decision to retire,” Hiestand said. “It is important to me to spend time with my family, as I have two kids competing in college athletics, one for his last season, and I have decided it is time for me to be a part of that. I am thankful for the opportunity Father Jenkins, Jack Swarbrick and especially Coach Freeman gave me to return for a seventh season coaching the offensive line at Notre Dame.

“Coach Freeman sets the example for Notre Dame Football every day, and he brings out the best in all of us. The players, especially the offensive line, are the best part of this great job and I thank them for their hard work.”

Hiestand returned to Notre Dame for the 2022 season after spending the 2018 and 2019 seasons as the offensive line coach for the Chicago Bears. His first term with the Notre Dame football program was from 2012 through 2017.

“I want to personally thank Coach Hiestand for coming out of retirement for my first year as a head coach, and raising the standard, not only for our offensive line, but for our entire team,” Dick Corbett Head Coach Marcus Freeman said.

“We are so grateful for all of the work he has put in during his two stints here at Notre Dame. Coach Hiestand has experienced success at the highest levels of coaching and I am forever grateful for the wisdom he has shared with myself and our entire coaching staff. Coach Hiestand will be forever a part of Notre Dame Football. Congratulations to Harry, Terri and his entire family on a much deserved retirement from coaching! We wish them all of the best.”

Hiestand helped develop the 2022 team into one of the more dependable units in the country. The Irish rushed for over 200 yards six times during the 2022 season and finished 35th in the country at 189.9 yards per game. Notre Dame also protected the quarterback at a high level, surrendering just 1.62 sacks per game (40th in the country). Sophomore left tackle Joe Alt collected five first-team All-America honors from various publications when the season concluded, while left guard Jarrett Patterson was also named a Second Team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association.

The Irish rushed for 2,457 yards in 2022, which was the sixth-highest total for the program since 1996.

During his first term with the Irish, Hiestand developed a number of offensive linemen into Top-3 round NFL Draft picks. In his six years in South Bend, he had six offensive linemen selected in the first three rounds (Quenton Nelson, first; Ronnie Stanley, first; Zack Martin, first; Mike McGlinchey, first; Nick Martin, second; and Chris Watt, third). Over the 11 NFL Drafts (2002-12) prior to Hiestand’s arrival, only two Irish offensive linemen were drafted in the first three rounds and not a single one since 2007.

Of the six linemen drafted, three of them were selected in the Top-10 picks of the draft (Nelson – 5th, 2018; McGlinchey – 9th, 2018 and Stanley – 6th, 2016). Nelson was the highest drafted Notre Dame player since Rick Mirer was selected second overall by the Seattle Seahawks in the 1993 draft.

Prior to his first stint at Notre Dame, Hiestand coached at Tennessee for two years (2010-11) after working with the offensive line with the Chicago Bears from 2005-09. He coached the offensive line at Illinois from 1997-2004 and at Missouri from 1994-96.

Hiestand’s first coaching job at the FBS level occurred at Toledo, where he worked with the tight ends from 1988-89. He worked with the offensive line as a graduate assistant at USC in 1987, after coaching the tight ends at Penn in 1986.

His first assistant coach role came at Hiestand’s alma mater, East Stroudsburg. Hiestand was offensive line coach from 1984-85 and assistant offensive line coach in 1983 at the NCAA Division II school after serving as a student assistant in 1982.

Hiestand began his college career as an offensive lineman at Springfield College (Mass.) before transferring to East Stroudsburg, where injuries ended his playing career. He graduated from East Stroudsburg in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education.

Born Nov. 19, 1958, in Malvern, Pennsylvania, Hiestand and his wife Terri have four children–Michael, Matthew, Mark and Sarah.

Heck of a day to drop some news...

Obviously Notre Dame still has to finish its search and hire for a new offensive coordinator, so replacing Hiestand is a little tricky at the moment. Part of the OC search has to do with a QB coach as well as Tommy Rees covered both — but maybe this gives Notre Dame a little bit of flexibility. And maybe not given how important an OL coach is to a program like Notre Dame.

It’s the middle of February, so while there is still time, there isn’t a whole lot of time. Hopefully much of the coaching search news gets wrapped up (mostly) this upcoming week.