Which Irish Assistants Could be Back?

Tony Alford did some great work with the Irish running backs in 2009 and is a great holdover candidate for the next coaching regime. (Photo - IconSMI).

Whenever a coaching change is made, the head coach isn’t the only one who faces some uncertainty – all of his assistants are suddenly in search of a job as well.  Sometimes a new coach will choose to retain a coach or two from the previous staff to preserve some stability for the players as Tyrone Willingham did when he took over for Bob Davie in 2001 and retained then defensive coordinator Greg Mattison as his defensive line coach. Other times, a coach will choose to bring in his own staff all together as Charlie Weis did in 2004 when he replaced Willingham.

There have been various reports that have come out since Saturday that some of Weis’s assistants have begun contacting coaching friends of theirs in the NFL about available positions. Still, there is a chance that the next Notre Dame head coach could attempt to fill out his staff with some members of the 2009 coaching staff.

Here’s a quick rundown of the ’09 staff and a look at who could be a good fit for the next staff.

  • Tony Alford (RB) – Of all the current assistants, Alford would be at the top of my list of coaches to keep on staff. Alford has done some great work with the running backs this year – Armando Allen specifically. Alford also has the type of toughness that the team needs more of. He’s done a good job recruiting so far and has good connections in Texas – an area where Notre Dame has struggled.
  • Rob Ianello (WR) – Ianello has been named interim head coach and a held very classy press conference on Monday night.  He talked about giving Notre Dame all he had in the transition and working to shore up recruiting while Notre Dame is in search of a new coach.  Ianello has been an integral part of the recruiting success Notre Dame’s had under Weis and would serve the next head coach well as a recruiting coordinator and position coach.  The problem might be that Ianello could be ready for a coordinator role after spending the last five seasons as the wide receiver coach under Weis.  Still, Ianello would be a welcomed addition to the next staff as far as I’m concerned.
  • Frank Verducci (OL) – Verducci has done some good work with the offensive line this year, but the line was still very inconsistent. Considering where the OL was in 2007 and 2008 though, you have to label Verducci’s first season at Notre Dame a success. The problem with an offensive line coach is that his coaching style needs to match up with the offensive coordinators system – as we found out when John Latina’s style didn’t mesh well with Weis’s system.
  • Bernie Parmalee (TE) – The tight end position has been pretty strong in the Charlie Weis Era and Parmalee has been the tight end coach throughout Weis’s tenure. Notre Dame was Parmalee’s first college coaching spot so if he is not brought back by the new head coach, he could make a return to the NFL. Parmalee hasn’t been a particularly strong recruiter, so a return to the NFL would make sense.
  • Ron Powlus (QB) – Notre Dame was Powlus’s first coaching gig and he’s done a pretty good job mentoring Jimmy Clausen during his time here. He hasn’t been as strong of a recruiter though. If Powlus isn’t retained by the next coach, it wouldn’t be surprising if he returned to more of an administrative role at Notre Dame.
  • Corwin Brown (DC/DB) – Brown gets a bad rap for the play of the defensive backs this year, but I still think a lot of the inconsistency we’ve seen from the secondary has to do with the defensive scheme not matching the players strengths. Brown is by far the best recruiter for defensive recruits and when he was the lone defensive coordinator, Notre Dame had its two best defenses of the Weis Era. If he isn’t retained, I hope he either heads to the NFL or a school that Notre Dame doesn’t play or recruit against much.
  • Jon Tenuta (DC/LB) – Tenuta came to Notre Dame with the reputation of being one of the best defensive coordinators in the country. He will be leaving Notre Dame with one of the worst defenses the Irish have fielded in some time.
  • Randy Hart (DL) – Hart has had a lot of young defensive linemen to work with this year and I think he’s done a pretty good job with most of them. Kapron Lewis-Moore really improved throughout the season and looks like he has a very bright future. Ian Williams had his best season under Hart’s tutelage and Darius Fleming came on as a pass rushing DE this year as well. Hart is a firey coach and would be a nice holdover.
  • Brian Polian (ST) – Polian has more than earned his keep as a recruiter. He was instrumental in the recruitment of Manti Te’o as well as several recruits from California. The problem with Polian has been the inconsistency in the special teams over the last two years under his watch. Punting was a nightmare this year and kick coverage really took a step back this year.
  • Bryant Young (GA) – Young joined the Irish staff as a graduate assistant last spring and would be an excellent holdover for the next staff.  Young is a future NFL Hall of Famer and should only help with the recruitment of defensive linemen in the future.  He also knows what it takes to win big at Notre Dame as a member of the 1993 Irish squad that nearly won the national title.

All of this, of course, depends on who is brought in as the next coach and who they bring with them from their current staff.  That said, the coaching staff at Notre Dame this year did have some very good assistants on it that could be valuable additions to the 2010 staff no matter who the head coach is.

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  1. They absolutely need to keep Brian Polian! I know he said the last 5 years have seemed like 10, but he is one of the top 5 recruiters in the nation! No doubt.

  2. Actually Parmalee has been a solid recruiter. If you look back he brought in Armando Allen, Same Young, Jordan Cowart, Tyler Eifert, Zach Martin, Ian Williams, Ben Turk, Zeek Motta, incoming Daniel Smith and Giovanni Bernard this is to name a few. I am sure he has more. So, I would think that is a pretty solid recruiter. Alford would be a good keep and Young. But new coach will probably only keep one or two. if he keeps that. As stated above Browns defense was the best in the last 5 years. If offensive minded coach comes he would be a good fit to keep for defense.

  3. This was to be expected. We also lost any chance at K. Prater, too. More will follow the longer this drags out. Plus, we may lose a couple of current players, esp. S. Evans (who may have already left ND). We’ll need the new coach to prioritize recruiting and retention. If we can keep at least 75% of our current commitments and make up the difference with some quality 3 star recruits who were previously not on ND’s radar, we might land a top 25 class (not great, but good given the circumstances).

  4. Chris Martin just decommitted and removed Notre Dame from his final four list. For an early commitment, he sure walked the fence line the past three months.

  5. I think Alford, Young, and Ianello should be retained. I wouldn’t mind seeing Polian retained as well, but with a different title, not special teams coordinator.

      1. Yea, fire your best recruiter in Cali. Pure genius!Everybody knows that Brain Polian play a big role in Te’o recruitment. On top of getting great prospects out of Cali.

  6. I think it all comes down to who comes in as coach. If a defensive minded person comes in, absolutely. But if another “offensive genius” comes in, then I could see keeping brown. Like the article references, Notre Dames best defensive years were those under brown.

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