Tony Alford Leaving Notre Dame for Ohio State

Tony Alford - Notre Dame RB Coach
Notre Dame runnings back coach added another back to the Irish stable on Monday in Josh Adams (Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)

It didn’t take long for the first bit of bad news to hit Notre Dame this off-season with reports of running backs coach Tony Alford leaving Notre Dame to be the assistant head coach and running backs coach at Ohio State.

Just days after Alford’s recruitment of Dexter Williams led the talented Florida running back to Notre Dame on Signing Day, he decided to leave Notre Dame after six years for the same position at Ohio State under Urban Meyer marking the third different assistant coach to leave Notre Dame to join Urban Meyer at Ohio State.  Ed Warinner and Tim Hinton who left following the 2012 season.

Williams, one of Notre Dame’s big wins on Signing Day initially posted some comments on Twitter voicing his disappointment with Alford leaving stating that he felt betrayed, but shortly after posted his affirmation of his decision to choose Notre Dame.

Alford was the only hold over coach from the Charlie Weis regime five years ago when Brian Kelly took over the reigns of the program.  Over his six seasons at Notre Dame Alford developed a reputation for being a top notch recruiter and was placed in charge of Florida and its hot bed of talent.

Perhaps the most impressive recruiting job Alford ever did at Notre Dame was getting Louis Nix to commit to Notre Dame in December 2009 while his status was still in limbo with Notre Dame as the University was in search of a head coach.  Nix, who turned out to be an invaluable member of Notre Dame’s 2012 national title runner up team, selected Notre Dame over Miami even without a head coach in place because of the recruiting job of Alford.

This past season Alford was the lead recruiter for both Williams and early enrollee Tevon Coney – two of the most instrumental recruits in the entire class. Two years ago Aflord also led the charge for Notre Dame landing both Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston.

As a position coach at Notre Dame, Aflord has coach both running backs and wide receivers over his six years with the program.

Notre Dame will now have to replace three position coaches with quarterback coach Matt LaFleur leaving Notre Dame for the same position with the Atlanta Falcons and defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks taking the same role with Oklahoma.

Multiple reports have stated that former Notre Dame great Todd Lyght will replace Cooks, but no official announcement has been made by the University.

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54 comments

  1. Evan 4 years ago

    This is a short term blow, no doubt. But it’s not the end of the world. As good as Alford was in recruiting, ND was top 15, not top 5. Lateral moves are a bit concerning, but the reality we all have to face is that Alford was looking to get HC opportunities, so 1) he wasn’t going to be here for infinity anyway, and 2) going to OSU puts him closer to a HC position in the next 2-3 years as they are primes for another NC run next year. Next man (men) in!

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  2. Shazamrock 4 years ago

    I always liked Tony Alford.
    He’s dedicated, a hard worker, and an outstanding recruiter.

    A couple of years back he was able to persuade a fine 5 star running back by the name of Greg Bryant out of Florida to come up north and join the Irish. As a 5 star Bryant was heavily recruited by every major program, especially those in his home state, so that was a great job by Tony.

    Now I understand in Bryant’s first year he suffered an injury which he had to rehab from and it set his development back a bit.

    But I would be lying if I said that Bryant met expectations in 2014. (or even came close)

    How many times did we all read, here, about Bryant dancing around too much, or not hitting the hole, or not running north and south enough, or missing his blocks?

    Nuff said.

    I wish Tony all the best.

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  3. bj 4 years ago

    how about lou as head recruiter, nobody knows the message better,with a young blond assistant

    http://www.ndinsider.com/football/brian-kelly-faces-significant-challenge-replacing-tony-alford-at-notre/article_7a0903a0-af20-11e4-843d-e326964a2487.htm

    who recruits for usc, bama, clemson, etc

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  4. bj 4 years ago

    One of those decisions may have already been made. Irish Illustrated also reported on Saturday that former Buffalo head coach Jeff Quinn will replace LaFleur as quarterbacks coach. Quinn served as Kelly’s offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at their stops at Grand Valley State, Central Michigan and Cincinnati

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  5. Damian 4 years ago

    Big loss for ND. Alford was a good coach, yes. But ND can get someone to coach RB’s that could do just as well. The big loss is no doubt on recruiting. That is where he had a special gift. That is what will be especially hard to replace. Not sure how invested BK was in Alford as he was not his man. Since Alford was there for 5 years under BK I have to believe they had a good working relationship though. Alford probably could have been a good OC as well, but then they might have risked losing Denbrock, another good coach and recruiter who I would hate to lose. At the end of the day, Denbrock was probably closer to BK.

    Losing Alford to a lateral move is concerning though. I mean, if he were becoming an OC at Ohio State, that’s one thing. I really can’t begrudge a man for seeking a promotion. But a lateral.

    I’ve said all along, while I still think BK is likely the man to bring ND back, he needs to look at himself too. Are there things he can improve on? I’m a NY Giants fan and I saw Tom Coughlin do some self reflection back in 2007-2008. He changed some things within himself and the Giants went on to win a Superbowl. BK should do the same thing. He made some adjustments in 2012 that led us to being in the NC game–we just learned we need a bigger O-line to complete which they are actively pursuing. There are undoubtedly other things that can be done and I hope he does.

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    1. Shazamrock 4 years ago

      For the last 3 years Tony Alford has been ND’s recruiting coordinator.

      That’s a huge, full time job, with huge responsibilities.

      The guy probably wanted to go back to just coaching and leave the lead recruiting job to someone else so he could spend more time with his family.

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  6. BJ 4 years ago
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  7. bj 4 years ago

    kelly didnt give him enough respect, “Alford has designs to grow into an eventual head coach and said he believes he needed to leave Notre Dame to help push him toward that end.” he needed a bigger title and more responsibility. kelly wants to run everything himself.

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    1. Shazamrock 4 years ago

      That’s why Kelly is called the “Head Coach” dumbass.

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  8. Michael the Archangel 4 years ago

    What Alford told his players, past and present . . . and those of us wondering why.

    http://notredame.scout.com/story/1511298-alford-takes-leap-of-faith?s=109

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  9. SteelFanRob 4 years ago

    Hey, Burgy, Good to hear back from you. Thought I’d get a good jab back. This Alford situation will come back to haunt us, I think. Thoughts?

    Knock one back for me, Burgy!

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  10. duranko 4 years ago

    Todd Lyght, Jeff Quinn, Autry Denson.

    Denson’s most recent post is working with Willie Taggart at USF in Tampa, all after coaching a high school in Boca Raton. Not to go out on a limb, but Denson may know a high school coach or two in the state of Florida.

    He can certainly talk to a Florida kid about the transition from Florida to Notre Dame and how to:

    () achieve a starring role for the Irish
    (2) successfully graduate.

    What Denson can not relate from experience is how to tell a kid how Notre Dame rebounded from a losing season the year before he got there to winning a National Championship in his sophomore year. But, maybe, just maybe, Todd Lyght might help Denson with some first hand knowledge of how that works.

    Loved Cooks, loved Alford.

    But the Bard was right, “sweet are the uses of adversity.”

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  11. EJS 4 years ago

    It’s hard to believe that Tony Alford would leave Notre Dame in a sideways move, especially to Ohio State. It’s also hard to believe Notre Dame is letting him go. His value to the team is very high in the field of recruiting, which is probably why Meyer swooped down on him. I was just starting to warm up to Meyer and then he pulls this. I hope we kick his posterior from Columbus to Gainsville and back again in the playoffs.

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  12. Michael the Archangel 4 years ago

    Let me add more pure conjecture to two established assistants making lateral moves.
    Lateral moves could also signify an assistant coach is unhappy with 1) the support (not just monetary, but also how student-athletes are treated) as offered from the institution, and/or 2) the working conditions under the boss. I can imagine it was a rough year when your institution chooses the most punitive penalty of the three stated as a consequence for violation of the “honor code” for proof-reading, ( are the “chickens (beginning to) come home to roost” from this fiasco), losing your key position player (see:Cooks) and under a boss who feels real heat after another disappointing season after November’s collapse. If your boss’s days are numbered, so are the assistants. It’s fair to note Cooks is reunited with his former teammate, the new OU DC, when they were at Iowa, and Alford and Meyer do go back to Tony’s playing days at Col. State. But not one comment regarding whether this is an indication that BK isn’t the easiest or most pleasant boss to work under? Or that the way the “honor code” violations were handled by the administration? Even St. Lou stated that’s how ND will always be, and just maybe these two coaches recognize that the opportunity for getting back to and maintaining being among the elite is and will remain a serious obstruction and a disconnect to establishing steady success, and limit their chances as future head coach somewhere else.Only BK’s staff could answer that question, but the possibility exists that under BK,and a user-unfriendly Administration regarding their student-athletes, especially this last season, “the thrill is gone” as B.B King often sings.

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  13. spiceyirish 4 years ago

    I wish he was leaving for a head coaching gig. Some day, hopefully soon, it will happen.

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  14. C-Dog 4 years ago

    This development is not surprising. Duranko and company would have you believe that the last 21 years were just a blip in an otherwise elite program. The truth is that right or wrong the NCAA Div 1 sports and Notre Dame have a strained relationship. Notre Dame wants a purer more idealistic approach and the other schools of the NCAA want the appearance of some for of ethics but only for marketing purposes.

    When you listen to coaches in all sports drool at the chance to best Notre Dame if the IRISH dare to compete, you realize there is a real dislike for the institution.

    That makes it tough to maintain a program without some transforming force. Get used to a fair amount of bad news one way or another and get used to mostly 8 win seasons with a few 10 plus win seasons and one or two 5 win seasons.

    The whole place is just very different from pre 1994.

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  15. David S. 4 years ago

    There are a few schools right now that could be considered better coaching jobs than Notre Dame such as Alabama, USC, Ohio State and maybe a few others. Let these coaches move on. They were already getting better recruits than Notre Dame without them. Who’s to say Todd Lyght and Autry Denson or whomever won’t be better. Go Irish!

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  16. David S. 4 years ago

    Tony Alford and Kerry Cooks wanted something at Notre Dame neither was going to get. Offensive coordinator and assistant head coach. Ohio State will not recruit any better at the running back position and Oklahoma won’t recruit any better at the defensive back position than they already were. We got Corey Holmes out of Florida in last years class and Nick Watkins out of Texas. This year we got Jalen Guyton out of Texas and Dexter Williams and Tevon Coney out of Florida who both admitted they would have chosen Miami and Florida respectively had those schools not had issues with their coaching staffs. They’re both overrated and can be replaced. Let’s move on. Go Irish!

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  17. bigkat 4 years ago

    why the hate for Tosu? if it’s for the winning that they do, then that’s on u……

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  18. Jagg 4 years ago

    Just another reason for me to hate
    Ohio State. I wouldn’t be as upset if it weren’t a lateral move. That’s a huge loss. Any time I sent Tony a tweet, he was good about responding to me and was the utmost professional. Recruits and players just loved the guy. I know that it’s like a revolving door with assistants, but it almost make you wonder if BK takes them for granted. He once said that if he ever heard of an assistant communicating with another school, he better take the job, because he would no longer be employed at ND. Should never let ego cost good people to leave.

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    1. Storespook 4 years ago

      Does that apply to head coaches and say, the Philadelphia Eagles?

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      1. Jagg 4 years ago

        Does what apply?

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  19. irish banshei 4 years ago

    Love the potental of adding Lyght to replace Cooks. Would like to see Watters replace Alford. Who could represent
    ND better than those guys. They knew how to play thr game at their respective positions, they know the type of student/athlete to recruit and flourish at ND and they know the value and meaning of an ND education because they actually went to school at ND.

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  20. Mike 4 years ago

    Ugh. This is going to hurt. Tony Alford did an outstanding job and I wish him all the best. Unless I’m reading this wrong, this is a lateral move. I don’t how much significance there is to the title of Asst. Head Coach if you’re not an offensive or defensive coordinator. Maybe someone can enlighten me.

    I’m getting sick and tired of Urban Meyer poaching ND recruits, players and coaches. I don’t blame the players or the coaches — they have to do what they think is best for them. But ND has to do more to entice them to stay. It’s not like they don’t have money.

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    1. Ron Burgundy 4 years ago

      Eat a Snickers Mike, you’re not you when you’re hungry.

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      1. Mike 4 years ago

        And who might I be when I’m hungry? And who might I be when I’m not?

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  21. Jack 4 years ago

    Assistant coaches leave programs all the time. BK got Heistand from Tennessee. It’s part of the game. Now BK needs to hire a good replacement. Also, Bruce most of the people you mentioned went for promotions not lateral moves. Alford also has assistant head coach next to his name. He did what was best for him professionally since CSU told him in the interview he didn’t have enough designations behind his name.

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  22. DaveMc 4 years ago

    Tiger, you’re missing the point …. We (ND) let this happen!! This is a huge mistake … The reader who pointed out the effect on Fla recruiting is exactly right. This will set us back years. There’s no excuse for this. Give the man his due … PAY HIM DAMMIT!! He’s earned it. And if he wants the OC job give it to him. We thought highly enough of him to recommend him at Colo St for the HC job, so he must be more than competent. This is just inexcusable and above all we let frickin (not the word I want to use) Urban Meyer get him making us look about as dull as you can.

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    1. Jagg 4 years ago

      Agreed
      Alford is a guy that ND should pay to stay. Maybe he was unhappy with Kelly. Kelly seems like the kind of guy that would tell an assistant to not let the door hit him in the ass, rather than trying everything to keep him. Kelly would take it as in insult, rather than recognizing that there I a problem within the relationship. It’s a shame.

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  23. Frank Buzolits 4 years ago

    Alford’s WR coach in college at CSU was Urban Meyer. They have a long relationship, so it not like UM just decided to tweak BK’s nose and recruit TA. Cooks was a teammate of the new OU DC at Iowa. You think Lyght would have gotten the job if he wasn’t an ND grad. Just the way it works.

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    1. Ron Burgundy 4 years ago

      C’mon Frank don’t you realize that this along with global warming is all BK’s fault?

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  24. Irishtiger 4 years ago

    Where am I at? On an osu site? What’s with all this “Urbie” stuff? The guy’s a turd and he loves to poach ND. I know. That’s recruiting. But he also set us on our ear when he took the Florida job and turned us down again after that. Quit passing out the bouquets here. Alford, if I’m reading correctly, was getting dismayed at ND. He made a good move but it was lateral and to a team I just despise for what they do off the field. (And “URBIE” could care less!). The bigger question that everyone is dodging is what in the world is ND going to do now?? Alford was more important than Kelly or any assistants. This has got to be a quick and HUGE move on ND’s part. And I hope at some point that all of BK’s disciples are used up and we have to get some real coaches.

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  25. C-Dog 4 years ago

    Let’s not forget the coaching aspect that Tony Alford provides. Kelly will need a coach he trusts to develop backs he trusts. Otherwise those who think BK is pass happy now ain’t seen nothin yet. And that would be bad for this offense. They thrive when the running game is solid and they usually fade when heavily favoring he pass.

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  26. C-Dog 4 years ago

    You wonder if Urban wants another NC with that Ohio team to then make a pitch at ND. Problem is he will be past his prime by the time BK leaves or retires. And the timing was only right the first time when he was at Utah. Not that I’d want Urban or any coach with the filth of Ohio State on their hands. But it is intriguing that he has poached so many ND coaches. It’s not like ND snubbed him.

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    1. Irishtiger 4 years ago

      If Notre Dame would even think of asking him, I would be done as a fan. We don’t need a traitor to get begged so he can say a blatant NO again. Come on! Get real!!

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    2. Ron Burgundy 4 years ago

      You do realize Lou was at Ohio St.

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      1. C-Dog 4 years ago

        One year Ron. 1968. Not really relevant in context to the situation.

        Hey Ron, why don’t you put yourself out there with some actual opinions and thoughts rather than the snarky retorts to the folks with the courage to post something significant.

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      2. SteelFanRob 4 years ago

        Not really Burgy’s forte, C-Dog.

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      3. Ron Burgundy 4 years ago

        He said he didn’t want any coach with the filth of Ohio St. on their hands, but thanks for asking.

        What’s up Roberto? Long time no hear. How are things?

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  27. Buckeye Nutt 4 years ago

    I knew Tony when he was in HS. Transfered in when his dad took an administrative position in a CS school district. They moved from Kent. OH. Tony is back home in the Buckeye State. His ecperience with Urban and the Buckeye running backs will put the finishing touch to his resume. Next step, HC at CSU. GO BUCKS !!

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  28. HURLS 4 years ago

    re:Hiring Autry Densen – sounds awesome. But BK and his staff have the pulses of plenty of candidates. And it could be me, but does Autry even have coaching experience? BK is deceptively methodological.

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    1. Shawn 4 years ago

      Yes he does.

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      1. HURLS 4 years ago

        I have since researched and found (likewise) that he does. Thanks.

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      2. Ron Burgundy 4 years ago

        Google is your friend!

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  29. HURLS 4 years ago

    DARN! “Pay-back’s a b-word” and Urbie is b-ing ND big-time. Hey…at least Urbie has the professional courtesy to live-up to his word (asking ND if we want him before he turns ANOTHER program into NatChamps) and make ND’s commitment to autonomy even more frustrating. (deferential shrug)

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  30. Woody O'Hardy 4 years ago

    Yep, Tony was a great recruiter. At least he waited until after signing day to leave. This creates an excellent opportunity for us to snag a great coach from another program.

    I’m sure our headhunters are working on it.

    Go IRISH!

    Woody

    PS liked the comment above about Autry Denson.

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  31. Bruce johnson 4 years ago

    Kelly has a revolving door of assistant coaches, diaco, Alford , lefleur, and cooks

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  32. Hank prendergast 4 years ago

    All the best to Tony, his ND players and coaches, and students. As advertised you get accepted at ND to get opportunities
    Other places mighty not offer.

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  33. Kenny M 4 years ago

    It sounds like Tony doesn’t think he can become a head coach if he stays at ND and he might be right. Alford is playing the good soldier by saying money was not a issue. I don’t blame him for leaving at all after he was passed up for the OC position. Being a Notre Dame football fan will drive you crazy. I just don’t know where Notre Dame goes from here as far as recruiting especially in Florida. It takes years to develop relationships down in Florida where every major program tries to get talent. Urban Meyer is just relentless. He has came after Alford before and he finally got his man. Adding Tony with the coaches/recruiters they already have I wouldn’t be shocked to see Ohio State put a end to Bama multiple seasons at number 1 in recruiting rankings.

    SMH……Only at Notre Dame.

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    1. Shawn 4 years ago

      Hire Autry Denson (RB Coach exp, from/play in Florida, has ties down there, leading rusher in ND history). Pretty simple.

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      1. Stoic 4 years ago

        Autry Denson, really!! Next year lets hire Brady Quinn as our head coach..

        Notre Dame doesn’t need to go down the path of hiring former players as coaches. Secondly, Autry Denson has little experience at the college level with little ties/relationships to the Florida schools.

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  34. Storespook 4 years ago

    Wish him well, just hate to lose another position coach to Ohio St.

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  35. david 4 years ago

    Good move for Alford. The best of Kelly’s era at ND is already in the books, and IMO it will end soon. Meyer is on a different plan…..

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    1. Shawn 4 years ago

      The best of Kelly’s era has yet to begin. Lol, delusional.

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