Notre Dame football lost head coach Brian Kelly to LSU but it doesn't appear that he will be able to bring much of his staff down to Baton Rouge.
According to Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger, Notre Dame is expected to offer defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman the head coaching job to replace Kelly. Freeman, 35, is in his first year at Notre Dame after stints as coordinator at Cincinnati and Purdue. He was starting to garner serious attention as a head coaching candidate elsewhere and had the support of some of Notre Dame's star players.
Offensive coordinator Tommy Rees, a former Fighting Irish quarterback, is also expected to remain in South Bend, according to Dellenger. The Advocate's Leah Vann reports that LSU made an offer $400,000 higher than Notre Dame's to poach Rees. On Wednesday, Notre Dame released a video of Rees informing the team of his intention to stay on at his alma mater.
Freeman and Rees are not alone. Wednesday brought a deluge of reports of Notre Dame assistants that are set to stay with the team, with some announcing those intentions themselv.
The Fighting Irish are currently ranked No. 6 in the College Football Playoff rankings. With all five teams ahead of them playing this weekend, there is a definite path for Kelly's former team to play for a national championship at 11–1.
While these things can certainly change, a number of Notre Dame staff members either made their intentions public or are reportedly staying on to coach under Freeman, assuming he lands the job in the coming days.
Defensive line coach Mike Elson, a long-time Kelly assistant dating back to the mid-2000s at Central Michigan, indicates that he's staying in South Bend.
Bruce Feldman of The Athletic reports that Notre Dame's strength and conditioning coach Matt Balis, who joined the staff in 2017, is staying put.
Notre Dame put out a video of Balis telling players, in no uncertain terms, that he plans to stay.
“This is where I want to be,” Balis said. “I want to die here. If I can die coaching you guys in here for the rest of my life, this is where I want to be.”
Feldman has also confirmed the report by Rivals' Mike Singer that running backs coach Lance Taylor is staying at ND. Rivals is also reporting that defensive backs coaches Mike Mickens and Chris O'Leary will stay on.
Back on the offensive side, 247Sports reports that tight ends coach John McNulty has also resisted overtures from Kelly and LSU, and will stay with Notre Dame. Mickens and McNulty have both retweeted Rees's address to the team.
This leaves the statuses of special teams coordinator Brian Polian, wide receivers coach Del Alexander and offensive line coach Jeff Quinn up in the air, as far as on-field coaches go.
As an independent program, Notre Dame will be watching and waiting this weekend.
Ahead of them in the rankings, Georgia and Alabama face off in the SEC championship, Michigan looks to clinch a bid against Iowa in the Big Ten championship, Cincinnati goes for an undefeated season against Houston in the AAC championship and Oklahoma State (the current No. 5 team) seeks to jump into the fold by beating Baylor in the Big 12 championship.
The College Football Playoff field will be announced at noon ET on Sunday.
More College Football Coverage:
- Irish Breakdown: Mike Elston Staying at Notre Dame a Huge Win For Freeman
- Brian Kelly’s Brusque Exit at Notre Dame Is More of the Same
- Expanding the College Football Postseason? We've Been Down This Road Before.
- The CFP Selection Committee Somehow Made Notre Dame a Sympathetic Figure
For more news on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, head over to Irish Breakdown.