Tommy Rees Dispels Rumors He is Returning to Notre Dame

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

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.

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.

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.

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  1. who will b calling the plays this year? your telling me KELLY will call the plays why bring in CHIP LONGS offense? I cant believe Chip Long came here to stand back and do nothing Saturday afternoons! If TOMMY REES turns out to b QB coach do you really think its Chip LONGS offense? Same old same old from KELLY!

    1. The offense is 100% on Kelly. The terms “offensive coordinator” and “QB’s coach” are meaningless at ND.

  2. Guys (and gals),
    At least Tommy was eligible and enrolled when we needed him!

    Bruce G. Curme ’77 ’82

  3. Tommy Rees is 25 years old. He may have a future in coaching, but he has almost no experience and is still a kid himself. Let’s get grown-ups to coach the team. We already have enough problems with under performing twenty-something’s.

  4. As a player, Rees got by with smarts and average (for a college athlete) athletic ability. Just the sort of player who often makes his mark as a coach later on. I’d love to see him come back to ND as a coach. Maybe he comes to ND, Kelly manages to turn the program around to a 9-3 or 10-2 program over the next three years, and Sanford turns WKU into a powerhouse in the same time period and comes back to ND as HC when Kelly retires. Tommy would probably move up in that organization, maybe an assistant OC.

  5. Brian Kelly has not had one QB improve in his tenure. Crist, Reese, Golson, Zaire, Kiser. If you think about it this is a huge problem. Each one started out good but all seemed to deteriorate. When you see all the teams in bowl games and realize that ND had more talent then most of the teams playing. The reason has to be coaching. I am not saying they should beat Alabama but they have trouble with Navy and Duke.

  6. Rees just didn’t have the physical gifts to play QB but had the IQ to succeed. He performed admirably for his skill level when called upon and deserved more support than given by the fan base. Yes, he did have a major off field “issue” that was not becoming to him or ND, but as far as football decisions go, he was solid. I think he would be a good coach wherever he lands. You don’t have to be a great player to be a great coach!

    1. As has been said elsewhere, was King David God’s chosen because he never made mistakes? No. It was because he was sorry afterwards, and was not guilty of the same mistake twice.

  7. I think he would make a fine QB coach, but NOT with Brian Kelly as his boss. Kelly destroy’s QB’s self-confiudence.

    1. Kizer didn’t seem to have that problem. Kizer was an afterthought before Zaire broke his ankle, and he stepped right in from the getgo to show everyone that he is pro material.

      Golson didn’t seem to have any confidence to destroy. Zaire seemed to be too concerned about his position in the pecking order, and as a consequence not concerned enough about developing his skills.

      If you want to say Kelly is the reason for Golson’s and Zaire’s failures, then you have to say he’s the reason for Kizer’s success as well. I say that some of both is on Kelly, but some of it has to be on the players themselves too.

  8. I admire Tommy Rees as a person. Wrong move (if true) as QB coach. If true, BK needs to leave sooner rather than later.

  9. Even my late Mother was shocked, “is that pencil armed guy the Notre Dame Quarterback” But, hey, maybe Tommy can Coach.

    1. bruce johnson, The Clemson victory over Urban was more interesting to me than the Penn State (moral) victory “over” USC. Of the original criteria published by the “Committee” before year one, neither conference champion, nor head to head, EVER had any meaning at all. It simply sounded good at the time. (Ask TCU about that). The unpublished criteria though, a glamour coach at a glamour program, and the EYE test, rule uber alles. If you wonder what the famed EYE test is, it’s this:
      “I like this conference better than that one”, and “I like this team better than that one”, and “I like this coach better than that one”, etc.

      These commentators and committee members need their eyes tested. 36 – 0!

      Get to an eight team playoff, people, with 5 automatic slots for power 5 CHAMPS and 3 slots at-large to play with. Do it right, or go back to the pre-championship era. And as for the ninth rated team – screw them – hit the weights in the off season and don’t lose three! Put an end to these consolation bowls that some of these stars don’t even want to play in!

      Bruce G. Curme ’77 ’82

      1. Hi Bruce,

        I know the arguments for an eight-team playoff, and they’re good ones. However, the other side of it is the balance with academics. I can’t help thinking that Father Ted wouldn’t be in favor of extending the season beyond where it is now.

    2. But Swarbrick says that the 2016 Irish team was more enthusiastic about practice than any other team he’s ever seen.

    3. Except Penn State didn’t beat USC….but even if they had, what the hell does that say about anything related to Notre Dame?! You just lost the last ounce of credibility you may have had!

  10. I have great respect for Tommy Rees, getting as far with his physical abilities as he did. One tough, gutsy kid.

    And I’d like to think he’s not a masochist. IMO, he took more abuse and BS from ol’ purp than most, back when there was mistaken deference for that fraud.

    Find a decent gig somewhere that’s stable and nurturing, Tommy. You’ve seen this movie.

      1. Well, to be honest, that’s not entirely accurate. I got mad at him a couple of times for throwing picks. But when “Butterfingers” Golson had his big year in ’14, it was where’s Tommy when we need him. :)

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