Blue and Gold Illustrated

April 2023

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

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20 APRIL 2023 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY TYLER HORKA T he clock was ticking on Harry Hi- estand's second stint as a Notre Dame assistant coach from the moment he arrived back in South Bend last winter. He was 63 years old and had been out of coaching for two seasons. When then-Notre Dame offensive coordina- tor Tommy Rees called him about the Fighting Irish's offensive line coach va- cancy, Hiestand couldn't say no. The two were around each other for the last two years of Rees' playing career (2012-13) and the first year Rees was on Brian Kelly's staff (2017). If anyone was going to get Hiestand back in the game, it was Rees. Without Rees' heavy pull in round- ing out Marcus Freeman's first coach- ing staff, Hiestand likely would have never jumped from the sofa and grabbed a whistle again. When Rees left for Ala- bama in February, it enabled Hiestand to abandon ship as well. He's retired once again, and Notre Dame has a new offensive line coach for the third time in as many seasons as a result. Enter Joe Rudolph, fresh off a one- year stay at Virginia Tech. "Sometimes, the moment you feel at home and comfortable, God pushes you in a new direction and presents you with new challenges," Rudolph said in the statement. Fourteen years Hiestand's junior, Ru- dolph doesn't have the same name rec- ognition as his predecessor. He's not to offensive line coaching what a reindeer with a red nose is to holiday fairytales. But he is just as worthy as any of the eight other reindeer who pull Santa's sleigh. He possesses the prerequisites for the job. Rudolph didn't get into coaching until past the age of 30 because he spent his 20s as a guard at the University of Wis- consin (1991-94), and in the National Football League with the Philadelphia Eagles (1995) and San Francisco 49ers (1997). Before becoming a graduate as- sistant at Ohio State, he earned a mas- ter's degree in business administration from Carnegie Mellon in 2004. Any Notre Dame scholar would be proud. The Buckeyes amassed a record of 30-6 in Rudolph's first three sea- sons as a college assistant. Hardly any of that acclaim falls on the shoulders of a GA, but that's still not a bad way to get one's feet wet in the business. Liken it to Notre Dame wide receivers coach Chansi Stuckey getting his start in coaching at Clemson while the Tigers were busy registering a record of 24-3 in 2019 and 2020. Stuckey is on the rise in the early stages of his career in part because of his experiences at his alma mater in those seasons. To the contrary, the one year Rudolph spent as a tight ends coach at Nebraska wasn't quite as welcoming. The Corn- CUP OF JOE Notre Dame replaces veteran offensive line coach Harry Hiestand with Joe Rudolph Rudolph has a track record of success as an offensive line coach, including mentoring five first-team All-Americans at Wisconsin from 2015-19. PHOTO COURTESY VIRGINIA TECH

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