Blue and Gold Illustrated

January 2020

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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18 JANUARY 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY LOU SOMOGYI T he unofficial "term limit" for Notre Dame football head coaches for the past 90 years is considered 11 years. That's because past icons such as Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian and Lou Holtz all lasted exactly that amount before stepping down. It looks like an exception will be forthcoming soon. Current head coach Brian Kelly will enter year 11 in 2020 with two more seasons left on his current contract, which is anticipated to be extended sometime soon for at least a couple more seasons, likely eclipsing the 13- year total Knute Rockne had from 1918-30 prior to his premature death. For Notre Dame coordinators, the unofficial term limit falls more into the three- to four-year category. When you are at such a high-pro- file school, you either excel to a point where you are going to be a head coach elsewhere, or the team flounders to a point where change is necessary. Chip Long, the Fighting Irish of- fensive coordinator from 2017-19, didn't really fall into either category. There was plenty of success during his three seasons in which the Irish produced a 32-6 record and a 2018 College Football Playoff appearance — but did not have a head coaching position waiting, which indicated a fracture internally among coaches and players with Long. This prompted Kelly to do "what is in the best inter- ests" of the football program, a phrase he repeated about a half-dozen times in his explanation for the change dur- ing a Dec. 14 meeting with the media. It did not work out for numerous reasons, but the 36-year-old Long likely will land on his feet elsewhere, as he reportedly has in the past drawn the interest of six-time na- tional champion coach Nick Saban. Leave it to a current high school ju- nior committed to Notre Dame, offen- sive tackle Blake Fisher — the No. 18 overall prospect in the class of 2021— to best summarize Long's departure with some "old soul" thinking. "Coaches come and go — all a part of the process," Fisher texted to Blue-'s recruiting insider Mike Singer shortly after Long's ouster. Indeed, by our count, the next Fighting Irish offensive coordinator unofficially will be the 15th over the past 31 seasons. TERM LIMIT At Blue & Gold Illustrated, we have learned to never expect a Notre Dame coordinator, offense or de- fense, to last beyond three years. It always amuses us when some- one will say that a new coordinator "needs to recruit his own players." That's because by the time those players are primed to become major contributors, that coordinator often will be gone. The last 30 years provide such evi- dence, particularly on offense. Head coach Lou Holtz (1986-96) basically ran the offense most of his career, but the offensive coordinator title was given to numerous assis- tants, officially or unofficially. Here's a rundown over the past 30 years: Pete Cordelli (1990) —Although not publicly given the title "offensive coordinator, he had a huge role in the design before accepting the head THE LONG & THE SHORT OF IT Whether it's Chip Long or others, coordinators usually don't last beyond three years at Notre Dame Lou Holtz (left) cycled through four offensive coordinators in his last seven seasons in South Bend, while Charlie Weis (right) — who effectively served as his own play caller — had two assistants with the OC title in his five seasons with the Irish. PHOTO COURTESY FIGHTING IRISH MEDIA PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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