It wouldn’t be the off-season without some rumors flying around about changes to the Notre Dame coaching staff. Late Saturday night reports broke that Notre Dame OC Chip Long was in Alabama allegedly interviewing for some position on the Alabama staff even though rumors were also flying that Steve Sarkisian was going to be named offensive coordinator for the tide. Since then, Notre Dame sources have reported that Long is not going to Bama and signs indicate he will remain with Notre Dame.
First, let’s jump into the source of all of the rumors in the first place – a report from AL.com. The report said that Long was in Tuscaloosa on Saturday and it looked like he would be getting a job on the staff in some capacity.
Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chip Long was also in Tuscaloosa today, according to sources. It looks like he could join the staff in some capacity even if/when Sarkisian is hired as offensive coordinator. A Birmingham native, Long has been the offensive coordinator at Notre Dame the last two years after one season as the OC at Memphis.
Since then, however, Tim Prister of Irish Illustrated reported that Long will not be going to Alabama. Prister, however added an interesting nugget in one of his tweets.
We are confirming that he is not going to Alabama. That is all we can confirm at this moment. https://t.co/bgiyBiFRmX
— Irish Illustrated (@timprister) January 13, 2019
There’s been a bit of smoke on Twitter about a potential falling out between Long and Brian Kelly following the Cotton Bowl, but Bryan Driskell of Blue & Gold Illustrated tweeted this morning that those reports are not true.
Not true at all. Everything I've been told is there is zero issue between Long and Kelly. One thing my sources have said from day one is that Long really likes working for BK and vice versa. Reports of any kind of "falling out" after the Clemson game are "BS" from what I was told https://t.co/LfDZNNI55R
— Bryan Driskell (@CoachD178) January 13, 2019
You may recall that Alabama made a run at Chip Long last year when they were looking for an offensive coordinator again at this time last year. Long rebuked Nick Saban at the time. What exactly happened this time around remains very unclear. Was the original report all just speculation? Did Long actually interview for a position? If so, was it just a courtesy interview since he has so many local roots? If not, where does that leave Long and Notre Dame. Remember, Brian Kelly has said multiple times that if one of his coaches interviews for a lateral move, they better get it.
This all conjures up some bad memories from a year ago when Mike Elko initially flirted with Texas A&M in December only to come to alleged agreement with Notre Dame to stay before ultimately going back to A&M for more money and then leaving Notre Dame in a pure cash grab. It doesn’t appear that is the case here.
Eric Hansen of the South Bend Tribune tweeted just a few minutes ago though that a source close to Notre Dame has confirmed to him that Chip Long is staying at Notre Dame.
— Eric Hansen (@EHansenNDI) January 13, 2019
It’s still unclear at this point if Long actually interviewed though or if the initial report was inaccurate or speculative. Whatever the case, Kelly and Long still have a lot of PR work to do since that will easily get thrown at them on the recruiting trail.
In all honesty, if Long did interview for the position in anything other than a courtesy manner, Brian Kelly would have been fully in the right to fire him on the spot. Knowing Kelly’s previous stance on his assistants interviewing for lateral positions, I can’t imagine this being a case of Long interviewing behind Kelly’s back and still being welcomed back.
It’s times like these that the early Signing Period is huge for Notre Dame. If the entire class of 2019 to date wasn’t already signed, Kelly and his staff would be burning up the phone lines right now. Luckily though 10 early enrollees arrived today and the rest of the class is signed already.
More on this one as more info becomes available.