More Changes at Notre Dame, Paul Longo Reassigned

Photo: © Mark J. Rebilas // USA TODAY Sports

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?

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27 comments

  1. Hunter 2 years ago

    “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.”

    I respectfully wish to add these observations to the equation: the issue in my opinion was extremely poor training & execution technically. For example: tackling was as weak as is humanly possible, assignments coverages and defensive schemes were ‘mistake after mistake’ with no improvement throughout the 2016 campaign regardless of the defensive coordinator. Strength is huge in its importance however technique is equivalent in its value to a champion which I consider Notre Dame to definitely be!

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  2. smokeyrob 2 years ago

    GEORGE RAISES SOME GOOD POINTS. BAMA GETS THE TOP RANKED PLAYER AT MOST POSITIONS. THAT IS WHY THEY HAVE THE TOP RANKED CLASS EVERY YEAR. HOWEVER AS FOR STRENGTH TRAINING, A GOOD COACH CAN MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE. LOOK AT 2 TEAMS THIS YEAR FROM THE BIG TEN. PENN. ST., AND MICHIGAN HAD GREAT YEARS. THEIR PLAYERS PASS THE EYE TEST. YOU HAVE TO PUT THE TIME IN THE WEIGHT ROOM. AS GEORGE MENTIONED THE PLAYERS HAVE TO BE MOTIVATED. SOMETIMES A NEW STRENGTH COACH BRINGS UNIQUE WORK OUT ROUTINES WHICH INSPIRE THE PLAYERS. HOPEFULLY N.D. FINDS THE RIGHT GUY. HEY, BURGUNDY. I LIKE ALL CAPS. DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY.

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  3. Shazamrock 2 years ago

    “Marroti has not had the same problems at Florida or Ohio State under Urban Meyer.”

    Strength & Conditioning has to start with the players themselves.

    When the players believe that they can or will be a part of a program that has a real and
    legitimate shot at the playoffs and championships (on a consistent basis) they will apply themselves.
    This is not true just during the regular season, but during the off season as well.
    And that is important, because that’s where the difference lies.

    Unlike like the days of past glory under coaches like Ara or Lou, the NCAA now mandates the amount of time that coaches and training staff can actively work with student athletes in practice, on conditioning, and in film study.

    NCAA Countable Hours
    In-Season
    4 hours per day
    20 hours per week
    1 day off per week
    competition=3 hours

    Out-of-Season (during academic year)
    4 hours per day
    8 hours per week
    2 days off per week
    Non-FB, skill instruction 2 of the 8 hrs/week

    Today’s coaches must utilize the precious time afforded to the absolute fullest.
    That starts with the players showing up for fall practice primed and ready to go.

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  4. bruce johnson 2 years ago

    Swarbrick has failed on the contract negotiations with Weiss/departure and Kelly hiring and extension. Did he represent nd as an ad or as a lawyer. He should have hired a real lawyer to negotiate these deals. We are still paying Weiss for a past mistake and compounded it with a poor exit deal. The hiring of Kelly was a major mistake and was compounded with the extension. If we can the current fool now we are paying out probably ten million for these two mistakes plus the expense of a new great coach at least 10 million more. Swarbrick has turned this into a financial and legacy disaster. Time to bite the bullet and pay the piper or wait it all out for several more years. The legacy is tarnished. If we wait too long we might never be able to restore it.

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    1. Damian 2 years ago

      I agree the contract extension on BK seems foolish now. However, I can’t completely fault Swarbick on the Weis dismissal. Kevin White gave Weis his huge contract extension in 2005 and Weis basically had ND by the gonads. There was just no way Swarbick was going to be able to get out of paying Weis big bucks to leave without a lengthy protracted lawsuit that would have cost ND even more, to basically pay him what we paid him anyway. Blame White for Weis. The only way out would have been to retain Weis until his contract ran out (a nonstarter). Weis was paid off last year I believe so he’s finished.

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  5. David Deeb 2 years ago

    I would think the media would insist on some answers as to why Kelly got a six year extension. What was Swarbrick’s thinking and criteria? I could understand why Saban would get a six year contract extension. Why Kelly? Does his record merit such a generous contract? Has anyone examined his record against top five teams? It’s time for accountability from the AD. I know it’s not public funds but ticket prices are rediculous and keep rising.

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  6. David Deeb 2 years ago

    All great coaches have a talent for hiring the best rather than pals and ineffective coaches. Two more coaches need replacing. The offensive line coach has not been effective and Denbrock is not an effective caller. Denbrock is a good man and needs to remain on the staff.

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    1. Ron Burgundy 2 years ago

      So as long as your a good man it doesn’t matter if you are effective?

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    2. MRP 2 years ago

      Heistand is, by many in the college world one of the top offensive line coaches in the country. Not sure why you want him fired?

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      1. Damian 2 years ago

        I tend to agree about Heistand. This year they were off, but I think that was more because of bad playcalls and not playing to the O-lines strengths.

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    3. SubwayAlum 2 years ago

      @David D…the one thing you can say about that line is …it’s offensive to watch them.

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  7. smokeyrob 2 years ago

    A LONG OVERDUE MOVE BY KELLY. IF YOU WATCH THE TOP PROGRAMS LIKE, BAMA, CLEMSON, AND OHIO STATE, THEIR KIDS LOOK DIFFERENT THAN NOTRE DAMES. ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU COMPARE THE LINEMEN. THE TOP PROGRAMS HAVE THEIR KIDS LOOKING MUCH MORE MUSCULAR THAN THE IRISH. THIS FALLS DIRECTLY ON THE STRENGTH, AND CONDITIONING COACH. THE WAY THE IRISH FADED IN EVERY GAME THIS YEAR PROVES IT IS TIME FOR A CHANGE. NOW, THAT SAID, GET THE BEST COACH YOU CAN FIND. SPEND SOME MONEY AND TRY TO LURE A TOP NOTCH STRENGTH COACH. PAY THEM ENOUGH, AND THEY WILL COME. KELLY IS TRYING TO ASSEMBLE A GREAT COACHING STAFF. I AM SURE HE KNOWS THIS YEAR IS MAKE OR BREAK TIME. HIS LAST MOVE HAS TO BE GIVE UP ON PLAY CALLING. HIS ATROCIUS RED ZONE PLAY CALLS HAVE COST US NUMEROUS VICTORIES. TIME TO BE LIKE SABAN, PLAY THE CEO ROLE. KEEP RECRUITING WELL, AND LET YOUR COACHES DO THEIR JOBS. NEXT YEAR WILL SURPRISE LOTS OF DOOMSAYERS. WIMBUSH IS EXTREMELY TALENTED, HIS OFFENSIVE CAST HAS TALENT EVERYWHERE. IF THE D IMPROVES THE IRISH WILL BE FINE.

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    1. Ron Burgundy 2 years ago

      Do us a favor and click that pesky caps lock key again.

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    2. George 2 years ago

      You can’t just strength and condition a 3 star ND lineman into an Alabama 5 star lineman. There’s a reason those guys are 5 star to begin with. The offense fades every game due to poor strategy and execution, not because the OL is too fatigued or too weak.

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      1. MRP 2 years ago

        Currently per 247sports ND has 3 – 4 star commits. In 2016: 2 – 4 star commits, 2015: 2 – 4 star commits,
        2014: 4 – 4 star commits.
        Not sure where you have this information that ND only has 3 star offensive line commits.
        Alabama currently only has 1 – 5 star commit and 4 – 4 star commits 2016: same numbers. I’m not seeing only 5 star recruits for OL. In fact I saw a few 3 stars in my brief research.

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      2. George 2 years ago

        ND recruits better than Alabama now? Wow. I knew we had some delusional posters here, but this is not even an argument.

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      3. MRP 2 years ago

        Not sure where anything was mentioned about ND recruiting better then Bama. Just enjoy pointing out the flaws of your post regarding the information on the caliber of recruits. However, since you mentioned it. As most experts in professional and college sports can attest, draft picks are the best indicator for success on development. Going back to the 2014 draft. Both Notre Dame & Alabama have had 4 lineman drafted each. Here are the selections
        Notre Dame: 2016 – 6th, 50th, 2014 – 16th, 89th
        Alabama: 2016 – 18th, 2015: 112th,228th, 2014: 44th

        ND Avg: 40.25 Bama: 100.5

        But hey, never let the facts get in the way of a good post.

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      4. George 2 years ago

        There are no flaws in my post. I simply stated that a lack of strength and conditioning is not the main reason that the top programs, specifically AL, OSU and Clemson, have kids that “look different” than ND’s. The main reason instead is that, top to bottom, AL, OSU and Clemson simply have better players than ND. Hence their recruiting rankings and team success. Or maybe it’s just a crazy coincidence! Looking back on it, I could have made this point without focusing on the O-line specifically, but since I already did that, I would point out that AL has at least two 5 stars on their O-line, while ND has none. That’s a substantial difference, and “most experts in professional and college sports” would agree.

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  8. George 2 years ago

    Yep, it’s all Longo’s fault.

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  9. David Osborne 2 years ago

    The thing that encourages me.. Kelly realizes that 2017 is the final year for him if he doesn’t produce! I say be sure not to lose Coach Sanford number! That guy is going to be a great head coach!

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  10. Peter Moulder '71 2 years ago

    Actually, the real problem is Jack Swarbrick. When he was hired I was skeptical based on his image as ‘chamber of commerce, two martini lunch’ type of person.

    His first major hire was Brian Kelly. Even though Brian seemed to have performed well at GVS and Cincinnati, his type of offense was very suspect. What was successful at GVS and the Big East hardly would be successful in a top 10 environment. What was really concerning was Jack’s back-up of Randy Edsall if he did not obtain Brian Kelly. Brian has had one good year, 2012, but threw that away aplauadability when he went looking for a NFL job.

    Jack was immensely helpful to ND in the realignment period of college football. His negotiating skills were superb and has benefited ND greatly.

    Unfortunately, Jack’s knowledge of college football is minimal, such that he doesn’t have the skill to determine Brain’s failures, which are apparent to everyone but Brian and Jack.

    Jack does seem to be aware of the discontent of the Notre Dame alumni and fan base. I think he realized that a repeat of a 4-8 season will result in his departure as well in 2017. I do understand the reluctance to part ways with Brian based upon the unknown size of a contractual buyout.

    Hopefully, Jacks forced personnel changes will succeed and Brian will depart for some perceived better opportunity.

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    1. Ray 2 years ago

      Yeah right, we fans know way more than Brian Kelly and Jack Swarbrick. That’s why we do what we do for a living and they do what they do for a living. Give me a break. It is so typical for fans to blame the coach rather than the players. Fans have hung Dean Smith in effigy and have given Jim Boeheim a lot of guff prior to winning national titles. It happens all the time, fans don’t want to blame the players, it is always the coaches according to them. A team’s attitude is always shaken when they aren’t winning and they always pat themselves on the back when things are going well. Brian Kelly it is often said did his best job of coaching in 2015. I suppose he suddenly became a poor coach in 2016, yeah right.

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      1. SubwayAlum 2 years ago

        @ Ray… “I suppose he suddenly became a poor coach in 2016″…yeah, right !

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  11. Scott 2 years ago

    I have been a Notre Dame fan for more than 40 years and have never been as embarrassed as I was this year. I was ashamed to even tell people who I rooted for.

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  12. ndcrazymike 2 years ago

    Everybodys fault except KELLY! You can change the scenery of coaches around but u still have the same coach who will make the same sloppy, unprepared team into DEFEAT!!! After this year who will KELLY blame? SWARBACK HAS TO BEGIN SEARCH NOW! OR UNIVERSITY HAS TO FIND NEW AD!

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  13. david 2 years ago

    As long as Kelly is the “decider”, ND football will be an unwatchable embarrassment. The guy is an arrogant fool.

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    1. Bruce Gregory Curme 2 years ago

      We can do all the window dressing in the world and we will still not be able to turn K-Mart into Marshall Fields (now Macy’s).

      We need self respect for Notre Dame, and what it used to be, from all – coaches, players, fans, administrators, students and staff. That has to come first. And you can’t hire, or buy, self respect.

      Then, if we do everything right, and that’s a lot of stuff, we might get respect from everyone else as well.

      Merry Christmas to all you guys (even bb),
      Bruce G. Curme 77′ 82′

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