Report: ST/TE Coach Scott Booker OUT at Notre Dame

Photo © Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Photo © Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The coaching carousel with Notre Dame assistants is in full swing this off-season.  According to a report from 247Sports Tuesday morning, Notre Dame special teams and tight ends coach Scott Booker will not be back in South Bend for the 2017 season.

Booker came under fire during the 2016 for a special teams unit that committed costly blunders in multiple games:

  • Momentum swing in Michigan State’s favor when a Spartan punt hit an Irish upback with the Spartans recovering.  Michigan State scored a few plays later and added a two point conversion on a trick play.
  • Notre Dame allowed Duke to return a kick-off for a touchdown after taking a 14-0 lead.
  • A 76 yard punt return allowed Syracuse to pull within one score of Notre Dame before half-time before the Irish pulled away.
  • A 12 men on the field penalty against Navy extended what became the go ahead Midshipmen drive.
  • The weather in the NC State was atrocious but an NC State blocked punt won the game for the Wolf Pack.
  • The Miami game was the tipping point with another punt hitting an upback, a fumbled punt by CJ Sanders recovered for a TD, a blocked punt, and a successful surprise onside kick by Miami.
  • Adoree Jackson returned a punt 55 yards for a touchdown and a kick-off 97 yards for a score in Notre Dame’s 45-27 loss.
  • Justin Yoon connected on just 13 of 17 field goals a year after nailing 15 of 17 as a freshman.

Along the way Notre Dame made some big special teams plays of their own.  A blocked PAT against Texas was returned for two points by Shaun Crawford.  CJ Sanders returned two kick-offs for touchdowns.

To his credit, Notre Dame’s special teams units were much stronger in 2015, but the fall off in 2016 was beyond drastic.

Tight End Production Has Fallen Drastically

A significant drop off in the play of Notre Dame tight ends under Booker’s coaching likely played a role in him not returning next year.  Notre Dame had a ridiculous stretch of producing NFL ready tight ends from 2005-2013 but the last three seasons the tight end has been a non-factor for the Irish.

In 2016 Notre Dame’s leading tight end, Durham Smythe, caught just 9 passes for 112 yards.  Four of those nine catches did, however, result in a touchdown.  The only other tight end to catch a pass this year was Nic Weishar with just three receptions for 47 yards.  Losing the athletically gifted Alize Jones to suspension in the summer didn’t help, but this is an offense that has produced strong seasons from tight ends in the past.

In 2013, Troy Niklas – a converted outside linebacker – caught 32 passes for 498 yards and 5 touchdowns.

No names have been mentioned as possible replacements at this time, but with Mike Sanford reportedly close to being hired as head coach at Western Kentucky, the Notre Dame offensive staff will look substantially different in 2017.

Notre Dame is also reportedly interviewing Wake Forest defensive coordinator Mike Elko and could be close to filling another open position on the staff.

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  1. A couple of players seem to disagree with the analysis of some of our posters.

    Much love to coach book.. has always been there for me since day 1. ??

    — CJ Sanders (@TheLifeofCeej) December 13, 2016

    Coach Booker is one of the main reasons I even came to ND… great recruiter and a great person! Love you coach

    — Isaac Rochell (@Isaacrochell90) December 13, 2016

    But what do they know, right? Certainly not as much as those who comment here.

    1. He may be a great guy. But the results are what mattered. Special teams were a mess this year and their has been a marked decrease in tight end production.

      Would you keep a guy on your staff who had those stats?

    2. And it wasn’t even just the special teams having issues. They were having problems with the basic fundamentals that cost ND points.

  2. By all accounts, Booker is a great person. I don’t blame him for the drop-off in TE production. However, special teams were so bad this year that a change had to be made. Hate to see anyone lose their job. I wish him well.

    Another change that needs to be made is in strength and conditioning. The Irish ran out of gas and got pushed around this year. Some of that is due to the way they practice. But, strength and conditioning is an area that needs big improvement.

    1. I recall how Longo was touted by Kelly as his big “secret weapon”. So IMO, Kelly giving that particular guy a pink slip would be Kelly eating a pile of crow —- which we’ve all seen Kelly simply does not do.

      Not “in the 27 years he’s been doing this now”.

  3. CEO Kelly finally finds the gonads to start handing out pink slips, and show some interest in HR.
    Because he’s now a desperate, transparent, self-preservationist clown.

    I would LOVE to do an exit interview with Booker.

    1. Agreed.

      BK is no longer coaching to be successful. He’s coaching to save his job. You would think those two things would be the same, but that’s not always the case.

  4. While I was in the camp who wanted to get rid of Kelly at least he seems willing to make changes-which likely bought him at least one more year. While Sanford is a big loss, at least we aren’t doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Will change if we do NOT land the Wake DC and end up with someone already on staff.

  5. This one should be a no-brainer. It’s ashame when anyone is fired, but the job was not getting done. Special teams was a huge issue overall this year. And ND went from being Tight End U to a non-factor. That’s an unacceptable drop off.

  6. Now I know why, to have a st guy standing around and the punt rolls of his leg! Even midget players know better.

    1. Agree that special teams players know the risk of getting out of the way to NOT get hit by a rolling punted ball.

      With that being said, as a Patriots fan, a team arguably coached by the greatest football coach to walk the sidelines, the same thing happened to the Patriots last night in MNF setting up an easy score with Baltimore recovering a “fumble” on the 2 yard line. It was thanks to the return man making a boneheaded play and not getting out of the way.

      Stupidity occurs even with the best coached teams. There are times players just don’t execute.

      1. Let the records show that the real George is not a Patriots fan, does hold Booker accountable, and knows how to use quotation marks appropriately. Oh, and also that the fake George is a pathetic loser.

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