Update: Conflicting Reports on Mike Denbrock’s Status at Notre Dame

Notre Dame's offense is heavy on talent, light on experience heading into 2016. (Photo: Matt Cashore // USA TODAY Sports)
Notre Dame’s offense is heavy on talent, light on experience heading into 2016. (Photo: Matt Cashore // USA TODAY Sports)

Despite reports late Tuesday night by Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel that Mike Denbrock was leaving Notre Dame for Cincinnati, conflicting reports have surfaced from 247Sports Wednesday that no decision has been made.

Initial reaction in the comments to our original post and on Twitter seem to indicate many Notre Dame fans would not be sad to see Denbrock leave.  Retaining Denbrock for 2017, however, would be a very big win for Brian Kelly given all of the other turnover on the staff and Denbrock’s recruiting prowess.  Our initial post on Denbrock potentially leaving listed some of Denbrock’s greatest hits on the recruiting trail.  The list includes some prominent member of the 2017 Notre Dame offense such as Equanimeous St. Brown, Brandon Wimbush, and Kevin Stepherson.

According tot he 247Sports report, Denbrock has kept Notre Dame up to date with job offers he’s received and Brian Kelly wants him back on his 2017 coaching staff.

Could this leak have been a power play by Denbrock’s agent to force Kelly’s hand in making Denbrock offensive coordinator as opposed to looking outside the program or else within the program (ie Jeff Quinn)?  Total speculation on my part there but from the outside looking in, the timeline of a report from Sports Illustrated linking Denbrock to Cincy only to be refuted the next morning certainly makes that seem possible.

Mike Denbrock’s Return Would be a Positive

Count me in on the crowd that would like to see Denbrock return to Notre Dame for 2017. The offense in 2016 certainly had its ups and downs – ok more downs than ups – but Denbrock didn’t forget how to coach all of a sudden.  A multitude of problems such as putting too much onto Deshone Kizer and having too many cooks in the offensive kitchen played bigger roles in the 2016 offense regressing than the individual efforts of Mike Denbrock.

I will take it one step further and state that I am all for Denbrock getting more responsibility and being named full fledged offensive coordinator.   That is assuming, of course, that the next Notre Dame offensive coordinator is given full control of the offense and isn’t just a figure head OC while Brian Kelly really runs the show.

This is now the second time that reports have surfaced from reputable sources that a Notre Dame assistant coach was leaving Notre Dame only to be refuted hours later.  Earlier this month it was reported that Keith Gilmore was let go by Notre Dame only to be rebuked hours later.  The future of Gilmore is still up in the air.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out as all of these reports are very characteristic of a program at a crossroads with their coaching staff.  Speculation ran wild since the final gun sounded against USC on the future of Brian Kelly until Jack Swarbrick announced six days later that Kelly would indeed be back.  Since then assistant coaches have been on the move and the only constant for Notre Dame has been change.


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  1. Someone tell me why denbrock is so great?! didn’t exactly light it up with willingham the last time he was here. i sure didn’t see a lot of athletic directors beating his door down to offer him a head coaching job…and the best part of my argument: you do remember where he was coaching before brian kelly hired his good buddy..indiana state! if denbrock was such a great coach and recruiter, then why has his career been what it has been?

  2. Curious because, 1) Kelly has stated that he would oppose a coach seeking a lateral move and 2) since Denbrock’s co-OC has left there is no apparent reason to seek a lateral move… unless…1) this is Kelly’s idea or better yet, 2) the University told Kelly to re-assume the Offense because after all, 3 offensive masterminds could only put together 4 wins last year.

    I like the idea because 1) my guess is Kelly blamed the other two guys for the poor O showing (vs 2015) so this will be put up or shut up for him, and 2) when he called offensive plays in the past he always covered his face with his play calling card…so I will be happy to see even less of his face in the coming season. Beginning of the end Kelly. In the words of an opposing coach last year…bye-bye.

  3. I’d rather see Denbrock stay on. His overall record at ND was mostly positive. I believe a lot of the problems ND had stemmed from BK. On the defense they clearly needed to make changes because BVG’s tenure was abysmal. But offensively, they have had their moments. I think the issues they had on offense had more to do with BK then anything Denbrock did.

    Since we are stuck with BK for next year, I’d prefer him to take on more of the CEO-like role and turn responsibility of play calling to a FT OC. This past year everything was half-baked, and you didn’t know who was designing plays. That needs to stop and they need someone that takes on that responsibility FT. I was hoping that would have been Sanford, but Denbrock could be an option as well.

  4. I agree that Mike Denbrock should be named by Brian Kelly as the full-fledged offensive coordinator, with full authority on that side of the ball, but with the requirement that the running game be emphasized a lot more and that the offense be somewhat simplified to permit a college QB to run it without having his head explode. I also think a greater effort should be made to limit the authority of the QB to change the play at the line of scrimmage, which I think is a reason why ND ended up not running the ball as much as it should have last year, especially in the North Carolina State game, which, incidentally, incinerated a pretty good Vanderbilt team in its bowl game. We’re not that far off for next year.

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