Blue and Gold Illustrated

March 2020

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

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Page 17 of 83

18 MARCH 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY LOU SOMOGYI O n Jan. 14, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly announced via a press release that fourth- year Fighting Irish quarter- backs coach Tommy Rees had been promoted to offensive coordinator, while second-year running backs coach Lance Taylor would be the run game coordinator. The moves were hardly a surprise since the split from 2017-19 Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chip Long, who reportedly was on the cusp of becoming an analyst on of- fense at Tennessee in February. The tenure with Long was success- ful on the field with a 33-6 output, but became contentious enough be- hind closed doors and on the practice field to necessitate a change in the "best interests" of the program, per Kelly. "Tommy's ability to connect with our players and staff and accepting and embracing the incredible oppor- tunity in being the offensive coor- dinator at Notre Dame made him the right choice," Kelly said. "While Tommy's leadership ability and knowledge of the game was evident, it was his humble approach to his own development and desire to con- tinue to grow and learn that were also key factors that set him apart in a talented pool of candidates." After Long's departure in early December, Rees had taken the reins and handled play-calling duties on offense during the 33-9 victory over Iowa State in the Camping World Bowl. However, Kelly was equally impressed with the collaboration Rees had with Taylor, thus earning the latter a promotion as well. "Lance's ability to gain consensus within the staff by implementing a running game plan that fits our per- sonnel and is tactically and techni- cally sound makes him a great fit for this position." Kelly stated. Dividing such duties into collab- orative efforts has become the norm in college football. All four College Football Playoff teams in 2019 either had co-coordina- tors on offense, or one with the title of offensive coordinator and another handling a specific area, e.g., Steve Ensminger as the "offensive coordi- nator" for newly crowned national champ LSU and first-year hire Joe Brady, who turned 30 last September, as the "passing game coordinator." Probably eliciting the most skepti- cism in Notre Dame's press release was Kelly's opening comment about hiring Rees "after an extensive na- tional search." Cynics would tell you it was more like "there's no place like home" by opting to go with the familiarity and comfort of Rees. While the veteran and proven names of Joe Moorhead (hired by Oregon) and Todd Monken (hired by Georgia) had been bandied Familiar Feel Tommy Rees is promoted to offensive coordinator and Lance Taylor to run game coordinator Now in his fourth year as quarterbacks coach, Rees was elevated to offensive coordinator for the Fighting Irish in January. PHOTO BY MIKE MILLER

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