Earlier today I wrote that all signs and logic pointed to Jeff Quinn being the obvious choice as Notre Dame’s next offensive coordinator. Well, it wouldn’t be 2016 without some news out of left field that Memphis offensive coordinator Chip Long will be named the next offensive coordinator for Notre Dame.
As I wrote earlier today, the pressure is on Brian Kelly with this hire. Kelly let a known commodity and proven recruiter Mike Denbrock walk away to be the offensive coordinator at Cincinnati. It looks like Kelly did that knowing that he had Long lined up to take over the Notre Dame offense.
Chip Long comes to Notre Dame after serving as the offensive coordinator at Memphis under first year head coach Mike Norvell. Prior to that, Long coached with Norvell at Arizona State where Norvell served as offensive coordinator prior to getting his first head coaching job at Memphis. In Long’s first and only season as the OC at Memphis, the Tigers generated the nation’s 16th ranked offense scoring 39 points a game. The Tigers pulled this off despite replacing a 1st round Draft Pick quarterback in Paxton Lynch.
Long worked with a first year quarterback this season – something he will do in 2017 with Brandon Wimbush at Notre Dame. Riley Ferguson replaced Lynch and ended up breaking Lynch’s Memphis school record for touchdown passes in a season with 32. The Tigers also averaged more yards per play in 2016 with Ferguson than they did in 2015 with Lynch. Those kind of statistics bode well for the Irish and Wimbush in 2017.
Just 33 years old, Long is considered to be one of the brightest up and coming offensive minds in college football in much of the same mold as Mike Sanford two years ago when Kelly lured him away from Boise State despite overtures from Urban Meyer. Long did not have quite that level of interest, but he was rumored to have been pursued by Ole Miss to serve as their offensive coordinator.
On the recruiting front, Long has been ranked by 247Sports as one of the best recruiters in the country over the last several years. In 2015 he was ranked in the Top 25 recruiters in the country by 247 and prior to that he was ranked as one of the best in Pac 12 during his time at Arizona State.
Long has a background coaching tight ends and served as the recruiting coordinator for Arizona State before leaving for Memphis. With his background as a TE coach it would make sense for him to take over those duties from Scott Booker in addition to his role as offensive coordinator.
Given Brian Kelly some credit for this hire – he stepped outside his comfort zone and zeroed in on another young, up and coming offensive mind to join his staff. Other than the addition of Sanford two years ago, that just isn’t something Kelly has done much of during his time at Notre Dame.
It’s doubtful we’ll hear anything official from Notre Dame until sometime next week based on all other recent hiring timeframes, but it looks like Notre Dame now has just one opening on its 2017 coaching staff at the wide receiver position.