Sunday afternoon Keith Arnold of NBC Sports reported that the return of former Notre Dame quarterback Tommy as quarterbacks coach was “imminent”. A few hours later, however, Rees told the South Bend Tribune that that was news to him and that he hasn’t nterviewed for the position. Again, you thought anything this off-season would be simple?
First off, here’s the initial Tweet from Arnold.
Not official, but imminent: Multiple sources tell me that Tommy Rees is returning to Notre Dame to coach quarterbacks.
— Keith Arnold (@KeithArnold) January 2, 2017
Mike Vorel of the South Bend Tribune, however, reached out to Rees and the former Irish quarterback said he hasn’t interviewed for the position in any capacity.
Rees has not interviewed for the Notre Dame QB coach job in any capacity, he said. "It's not true."
— Mike Vorel (@mikevorel) January 2, 2017
Again, we shouldn’t be surprised with anything in relation to this staff at this point the way this off-season has gone so why would that change now?
Could there be more smoke to this fire than Rees is letting on Vorel though? Arnold is a well connected and well respected in the Notre Dame community and is not one to throw out anything he hasn’t been able to verify from reliable sources. At the same time, Vorel’s tweets don’t contain any denials that Rees is interested or vice versa either. They simply state that he has not interviewed for the position in any capacity at the moment.
The tweets don’t say that he will not interview for the position.
On the surface, the move actually makes some sense. Rees knows Brian Kelly’s offense better than pretty much anyone and has jumped right into a coaching career after graduating from Notre Dame. In 2015 Rees served as a graduate assistant at Northwestern and spent the 2016 season working as an offensive assistant for the San Diego Chargers. With the Chargers firing Mike McCoy yesterday, Rees could be looking for a job soon.
Throughout his Notre Dame career Rees was able to beat out multiple players with significantly more raw talent than he possessed in large part because of his football IQ and knowledge of Brian Kelly’s system. As a stereotypical “coaches kid”, Rees was good at ready defenses and checking into the right plays. Now, his lack of arm strength and mobility often lead to some poor decisions and resulted in gut-wrenching turnovers. That is a whole other story.
Notre Dame has also featured former Irish quarterbacks on staff to coach the position in recent years. Ron Powlus, now in a more administrative role, served as quarterbacks coach for Charlie Weis during his time at Notre Dame.
The one part of the initial report that struck me as odd though was that this move would leave Notre Dame without a true wide receivers coach unless Brian Kelly took that role. It has been assumed that Chip Long will coach the tight ends given his background. That would leave Notre Dame in need of a quarterbacks coach and a wide receivers coach with just one current vacancy. It would make much more sense if Kelly took command of the quarterbacks this year while hiring a dedicated wide receivers coach.
Perhaps Arnold jumped the gun with the initial tweet or perhaps Rees could be returning in some other capacity with the regime change in San Diego. Brian Kelly has brought in some high profile offensive and defensive assistants in recent years such as Jeff Quinn and Greg Hudson.
Either way, Sunday’s news was just another peak and valley of the 2017 Notre Dame off-season rollercoaster that doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon.