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Monday, December 19, 2011
Kelly aims for new hire by Jan. 4

By Matt Fortuna

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame's newest addition for 2012 will actually come before the Feb. 1 national signing day. Almost one month earlier, actually. And, for all intents and purposes, the addition will come Jan. 4 to make national signing day more enjoyable for the Irish.

Former offensive coordinator Charley Molnar, hired as Massachusetts' head coach Dec. 8, will not be with Notre Dame for its Dec. 29 Champs Sports Bowl matchup against Florida State. Molnar initially intended to finish out the season with the Irish, but head coach Brian Kelly said Monday that would no longer be the case.

"Charley's gonna focus strictly on the job that he has at UMass, and we're really excited for Charley and his family, Meg, and their kids. They all had their UMass gear on and they're focused on their next challenge," Kelly said. "It's difficult sometimes, you wanna try to do both. I've been in that situation. It's not easy. But we've had a conversation, Charley and I, and he's gonna focus strictly on his work for UMass."

Kelly will coach the quarterbacks in the lead-up to the bowl game, and assistants Ed Warinner (offensive line), Tim Hinton (running backs), Mike Denbrock (tight ends) and Tony Alford (receivers) will all shoulder a heavier workload until a new hire is made.

Monday began the dead period for recruiting, running through Jan. 3. Thus, Jan. 4 is when Notre Dame would like a new assistant coach.

"We don't wanna be short in the recruiting end of things," Kelly said. "We'll have it all sorted out. We'll have somebody on-board so when we hit the road recruiting, we're not short a coach. We're not gonna put ourselves in that position."

Warinner would appear to be the favorite to assume the offensive coordinator role should Notre Dame choose to promote someone from within, as the offensive line coach and running game coordinator served as Kansas' offensive coordinator from 2007-09.

Kelly will keep his options open when evaluating thew open position.

“My background is that I like to keep things in-house if I can,” Kelly said. “If I can I'll bring somebody that I have a relationship with. And I'm not different than most coaches, if you look at a lot of coaches. I think we've got talented coaches in the program that are capable of more, being in leadership positions.

"If that’s the route I go I feel very comfortable with that, but I’m not closing off any doors as to how I go about doing that.”