Brian Kelly attempted to lure Marcus Freeman and Tommy Rees with him to LSU when he left Notre Dame abruptly on Monday night. Both have rejected their old boss’s offers, with Marcus Freeman taking over as head coach and Rees deciding to stay at his alma mater instead of chasing the money that LSU and Brian Kelly offered.
There were reports that LSU offered Rees over $1 million a year to run the Tigers offense. Instead, Rees will continue to run the Notre Dame offense, seemingly with more autonomy without Kelly at the helm, on new head coach Marcus Freeman’s staff.
Before news broke that Rees was staying at Notre Dame, the Notre Dame quarterbacks started tweeting #PayTommyRees with pictures of their offensive coordinator and quarterback’s coach. Obviously a sign of players who wanted to continue to play for their coach. Reports surfaced before the Irish QBs tweeted their support that Notre Dame was working hard to keep Rees from following Kelly’s money trail to Baton Rouge, but seeing how much the Irish QBs wanted their coach to stay probably made Jack Swarbrick and Notre Dame feel even better.
Rees and Freeman not following Kelly to LSU is massive for Notre Dame, and it means that Kelly will basically be building a whole new staff. However, he did say he was looking for a new challenge earlier today, so have fun with that, Brian. For Notre Dame, keeping both Freeman and Rees means this year’s recruiting class should likely stay largely, if not entirely intact, with just two weeks until the early signing day.
Rees, like Freeman, is seen as a rising star in the coaching ranks and will now get to put his stamp on the Irish offense with input from a head coach with an offensive background.
In addition to Rees and Freeman, Notre Dame retained strength and conditioning coordinator Matt Balis on Tuesday – the first significant domino to fall in all of this. There were no reports that Kelly attempted to lure Balis to LSU too, but head coaches usually want to bring their S&C coordinators with them. Kelly did when he left Cincinnati for Notre Dame with Paul Longo. Balis was one of the most vital pieces of the Brian Kelly 2.0 reboot in 2017 that revitalized the program. Keeping him was a huge win for Notre Dame.
As more and more assistant coaches announce their intentions to stay at Notre Dame, the less likely it is that the College Football Playoff committee will hold Kelly’s departure against Notre Dame should things fall like the Irish need them to this weekend.