Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly completed his first staff at Notre Dame on Tuesday with the official announcement of the additions of Kerry Cooks (outside linebackers), Tim Hinton (running backs), and Ed Warinner (offensive line).
Kerry Cooks comes to Notre Dame to coach the outside linebackers after serving as the defensive backs coach for Wisconsin for the past four seasons. Cooks, a Texas native, will also serve as Notre Dame’s lead recruiter in the Lone Star state – an area where the Irish have struggled over the last several years.
“I’ve had the good fortune of being able to go down and recruit Texas for the last seven years. I’ve built a lot of relationships and we’ve had a lot of previous success at other places I’ve been,” Cooks said Tuesday.
In the official press release announcing the hiring of Cooks, Kelly said that he tried to hire Cooks once before. “I’ve known Kerry Cooks for a while and actually tried to hire him at Central Michigan, but an opportunity arose for him at Minnesota that he couldn’t pass up. “ Kelly would add, “I’ve watched his progress from afar over the years and when the Notre Dame job happened for me he was one of the first guys I thought of to add to our coaching staff.
Cooks has also held positions at Kansas State (graduate assistant), Western Illinois (defensive backs), and Minnesota (defensive backs) prior to his most recent stint with Wisconsin.
Despite only having experience coaching defensive backs, Cooks will coach the outside linebackers at Notre Dame. In fact, coaching a new position was one of the major factors in Cooks decision to leave Wisconsin for Notre Dame. “I’ve been a safety, corner and nickel as a player and I’ve also coached those positions. The opportunity to come and work with the front seven, a different position, and get to know and learn intrigued me,” Cooks said in a press release Tuesday.
Cooks played college football with new Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco at Iowa and has kept in touch with his former teammate over the years.
In somewhat of a surprise move, Tim Hinton will join the staff as the running backs coach. The addition of Hinton isn’t a surprise, but his position is since Tony Alford, the lone holdover from the Weis staff, was the Irish running backs coach in 2009. With Hinton on staff, Alford will coach the wide receivers.
Hinton was a member of Mike Dantonio’s staff at Cincinnati before he left for Michigan State after the 2006 season, but stayed on at Cincy when Kelly was hired by the Bearcats. This past season Hinton served as Cincinnati’s recruiting coordinator and recruited both Ohio and Florida. Prior to coaching at Cincinnati, Hinton coached at Ohio University and Ohio State as well as a few different high schools in Ohio.
In explaining the reasoning behind moving Alford to the wide receivers, Kelly said the decision was twofold. “For Tony, this is a great professional development opportunity and gives him a chance to really increase his coaching acumen. For the team, this takes a great coach and puts him at a position where he will have multiple players on the field at one time in our offense. I have complete confidence in Tony’s ability to coach our wide receivers and plan to see a similar impact with them as he had with the running backs last year.”
Kelly backed the move further by explaining Hinton’s familiarity with the offensive system that will be installed at Notre Dame. “Tim’s expertise in the running game and pass protections combined with his experience in my offensive system make him a perfect fit for our running backs.”
Ed Warinner comes to Notre Dame as the offensive line coach after serving as former Kansas head coach Mark Mangino’s offensive coordinator with the Jayhawks for the past three seasons. Warinner had previous stints at Illinois, Air Force, Army, Michigan State, and Akron as well.
Warinner’s familiarity with the spread offense will be a big plus in how he fits in with this staff. One of the problems with the Irish offensive line under John Latina was that his style never seemed to mesh well with Charlie Weis’s offensive system. On the surface, this doesn’t appear as though it will be a problem with Warinner on Kelly’s staff.
“He had great success at Kansas as an offensive coordinator and has a great understanding of what we’ll try to do offensively,” Kelly said of Warinner in an official release Tuesday. Kelly would add, “The fact that he also taught the option offense at Army and Air Force complements the rest of our coaching staff and will only make us better and more diverse.” Considering Notre Dame’s inability to stop the triple option attack of Navy the last three years, any help the current staff has in stopping that particular offensive system is very welcomed.
With the final three additions, Brian Kelly’s first staff at Notre Dame is complete and looks like this – Charley Molnar (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks), Tim Hinton (running backs), Tony Alford (wide receivers), Ed Warinner (offensive line), Mike Denbrock (tight ends), Bob Diaco (defensive coordinator/inside linebackers), Mike Elston (defensive line), Kerry Cooks (outside linebackers), and Chuck Martin (defensive backs).
Kelly has yet to officially name a special teams or recruiting coordinator, but an announcement on each will be made in the future.