Today, what many speculated might happen this off-season happened. Chip Long will not be Notre Dame’s offensive coordinator in 2020. The twist to the plat, however, was that Notre Dame and their now former offensive coordinator Chip Long are mutually parting ways.
Can confirm multiple reports that offensive coordinator Chip Long and the Notre Dame football program have parted ways.
Long was a Broyles Award runner-up last year and Notre Dame’s offense set a scoring record under the Brian Kelly era this season.
— Pete Sampson (@PeteSampson_) December 11, 2019
It had been circulating for some quite some time that Notre Dame wasn’t necessarily a long term home for Long. Just last offseason, it appeared that he was looking to go to Alabama, and there had been rumors all season that this could be Long’s last in South Bend. It was always assumed that Long would leave for a head coaching gig. That hasn’t happened yet. His Notre Dame departure, however, has.
Long took over the Notre Dame offense after the miserable 2016 season and played a significant role in the Irish turn around over the past three seasons. The Irish have averaged over 30 points each of the last three seasons, and the 2019 offense was the most productive in the Kelly era averaging 37.1 PPG.
Credit can also be given that Kelly’s trust in Long to run the offense allowed the Head Coach to take more of a CEO role, which has been said to be instrumental in the NDs turnaround.
Some fans will see Long’s departure as a good thing. Although the offensive numbers were high under Long, they weren’t good against elite opponents. The Irish offense soared against inferior opponents but struggled to do anything against the likes of Georgia or Michigan
As for what exactly led to Long’s departure, it’s still unclear, but some have speculated that his replacement could already be on staff – Tommy Rees.
Rees is seen as a promising up and comer in the coaching world and had been getting interviewed for some OC jobs – most notably Northwestern. This may be an attempt at keeping the QB coach
Rees is the top candidate to replace Long as the offensive coordinator and will be calling the plays in the Camping World Bowl, which will serve as an audition for a promotion if he isn’t named Long’s successor before then.
There are certainly some worries that can be had with making Rees the OC starting with his lack of experience, but presuming this happens signifies that Brian Kelly will essentially be retaking control of the offense.
ND’s turnaround has been largely credited to Kelly stepping away from the offense and focusing more on the team as a whole. Some might worry that he might resort to old habits, but optimism can be had that Kelly will be able to balance himself better this time around.
Let’s see how the bowl turns out before we panic.
Impact on recruiting
Long’s departure comes close to National signing day, which would worry some that this will impact the strong momentum the Irish have had in the past year, but it could be argued that Rees has been more instrumental on the recruiting path.
Rees has been at the center of a lot of ND’s commits, including 2021 QB Tyler Buchner, and so there might not be a need to panic about everyone jumping ship. In fact, a few commits have already signaled that this will have no impact on them.
2020 TE Kevin Bauman
2020 TE commit Kevin Bauman told me, “Not at all. I will be signing on December 18th” when being asked if TE coach and OC Chip Long leaving would affect him signing on December 18. https://t.co/R1AoXLgJDn
— Notre Dame Recruiting (@NDrecruiting01) December 11, 2019
2021 WR Deion Colzie post-Long news
— Deion Colzie (@almightydeion_) December 11, 2019
2021 OL Blake Fisher
— Blake Fisher☘️ (@bfisher54_) December 11, 2019
The biggest recruit is one most people probably aren’t thinking about either. Fans can think whatever they want about Ian Book, but he is perhaps still Notre Dame’s best option at quarterback next season, and it’s said that Book and Rees have a healthy relationship.
Book is eligible to transfer anywhere he wants for next season, and after the sharp criticism he took this year, it wouldn’t be absurd to think he doesn’t want to spend another year with the pressure of being the quarterback at Notre Dame.
Making Rees the OC probably leads to Book coming back for one last ride and being the starter for the 2020 opener.
Overall, Long’s tenure can be considered successful, but that doesn’t mean it’s not the time for a change. It can be understood why some would be nervous about Tommy Rees taking over the O, but let’s settle down and see what takes place over the next month.