The tide of change continued to roll on Saturday at Notre Dame. After speculation all week long, it’s been reported that Paul Longo, Notre Dame’s Football Director of Strength & Conditioning, has been reassigned into another role within the University.
Longo’s reassignment caps off a tumultuous week for Notre Dame. The Irish lost offensive coordinator Mike Sanford to Western Kentucky as head coach, dismissed special teams and tight ends coach Scott Booker, and welcome Brian Polian and Mike Elko to the staff as special teams coach and defensive coordinator respectively.
There’s been no official word from Notre Dame – just as the University has not commented on the hiring of Elko or Polian – but it has been reported by multiple outlets.
The strength and conditioning program at Notre Dame has been under scrutiny this season as Notre Dame wilted in second halves numerous times this season. Notre Dame held second half leads against Duke, Navy, Virginia Tech, Texas, and Stanford but lost all five contests. Those five loses were the difference between 4-8 and 9-3 this season.
Even before this season, questions arose as to whether the rase of injuries Notre Dame suffered in both 2014 and 2015 had anything to do with the way which the Irish were training both during the season and in the off-season.
Longo has been at Notre Dame since Brian Kelly arrived following the 2009 season and had been with Kelly prior to that at Cincinnati and Central Michigan. His arrival was met with optimism after the previous Director of Strength & Conditioning for Football, Rueben Mendoza fell out of favor during the Charlie Weis regime.
Strength & conditioning coaches falling out of favor is nothing new at Notre Dame though. Before Mendoza, it was Mickey Marroti who served in the same role in Bob Davie. Since then Marroti has not had the same problems at Florida or Ohio State under Urban Meyer.
We’ll find out soon enough if a change in strength and conditioning was one of the reasons Notre Dame fell off this year but one thing is certain after this week. Brian Kelly is taking the 4-8 campaign this past fall as a wake up call and is at least attempting to make the necessary changes to reverse course.
The Fighting Irish are going to look very different when they take the field for the 2017 season opener. When Temple comes to town, Notre Dame will have a new offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, tight ends coach, special teams coach, quarterbacks coach, and strength and conditioning coordinator.
Will all of the changes add up to a revived program under Brian Kelly’s direction or will the changes result in the same outcome Charlie Weis encountered when he made numerous changes in 2009 with his job on the line?