Friday, February 10, 2012
Irish unveil new coaching staff
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The Notre Dame coaching staff has a few new faces for the players to get used to.
Coach Brian Kelly introduced the staff on Friday, detailing the changes that have taken place since losing three coaches -- all of them on offense -- over the past few months.
"When you do not reach the goals that you're looking to reach, it's not just about your players," Kelly said. "You have to evaluate players. You have to evaluate systems. You have to evaluate coaches. And today was to announce what I believe are some significant improvements within our staff that are going to allow us to move forward. We believe our foundation has been set."
Chuck Martin, the safeties coach and recruiting coordinator for Kelly last season, has switched sides and will be the offensive coordinator next season. He replaces Charley Molnar, who left to become the head coach at Massachusetts.
"When you're talking about an offensive coordinator, it's not about what you put up on the blackboard, it's about your ability to lead and communicate, it's your ability to get your players to play at the level necessary," Kelly said. "Chuck's already demonstrated that, and he brings with him the experience of knowing the offense that we're already running."
It was Martin who coached for four years under Kelly at Grand Valley State and took over the program when Kelly left. In six seasons as head coach, Martin continued to run the spread offensive system Kelly installed and the two will work together again at Notre Dame. Kelly said he will continue to call the plays on game days.
Martin will also be in charge of the quarterbacks on a day-to-day basis with a four-man race for the starting position under way.
"I just want to win football games at Notre Dame, period, end of story," Martin said. "I think that's part of why (Kelly) made the decision. He knows I don't have another agenda. I'm not into these stats. I'm not into building my offensive empire resume. I'm kind of a nomad. I'm an offensive guy, I'm a defensive guy."
Also gone are Ed Warinner, the offensive line coach, and Tim Hinton, the running backs coach who joined Urban Meyer's staff at Ohio State.
Replacing Warinner is Harry Hiestand, who spent two years in the same role at Tennessee and the previous five years with the Chicago Bears of the NFL. Kelly said Hiestand is a perfect fit, and shares his vision in making the line a key in how the offense develops play by play.
"What's important to me is that every day when I walk in the meeting room to get ready for these guys and we start our football meetings and we start practice is that I bring it every day," Hiestand said. "I'm going to ask them to bring their best effort every day when they go to practice and when they go to compete and we start spring ball."
Tony Alford takes over the running backs position after coaching wide receivers for the past two seasons under Kelly. Alford will also coach the slot wide receivers and has become the staff's recruiting coordinator.
Scott Booker, a former intern, will coach the tight ends and be the team's special teams coordinator. Last season's tight end coach, Mike Denbrock, moves over to coach the outside wide receivers.
Prior to coming to Notre Dame, Booker spent five seasons as a defensive backs coach at Western Kentucky and Kent State.
Rounding out the staff changes is Bob Elliott as safeties coach. Elliott comes to Notre Dame from Iowa State, where he was the secondary coach last season. Elliott's 33-year coaching career has been mostly on the defensive side of the ball as a secondary coach and defensive coordinator.
"He gives us, from the defensive standpoint, an incredible knowledge base," Kelly said of Elliott. "I think he will add not only to our preparation, but to the skill development of our players in the secondary."
Kelly also said Elliott possesses the ability to recruit from coast-to-coast after coaching stops at Iowa, Kent State, Ball State, Iowa State, North Carolina, Kansas State and San Diego State.
Kelly said the combination of new and old staff gives him a staff that can improve the program he's started to build at Notre Dame.
"That brings a synergism to your staff when you have new ideas, new ways of doing things," he said. "I think when you combine that with what we believe are some very good systems in place, I like that synergy."