Dec 15, 2011, 1:07 PM EDT
Brian Kelly will be making his first coaching hire since assembling the staff he brought with him to Notre Dame. We’ll just have to wait until after Signing Day to find out who it’ll be.
With Charley Molnar taking over the UMass football program as it moves up a wrung into the FBS, the Irish will be short the leader of the offensive staff heading into the bowl game. While it was originally thought that Molnar was going to stay with the team through bowl preparations, in his appearance on his one-hour radio show, Kelly said those plans have changed.
With Kelly already calling the plays, he’ll step in and spend more time with the offense while the rest of the offensive staff — Ed Warinner, Tim Hinton, and Mike Denbrock as mentioned by Kelly — will add to their plate.
The mention of Hinton’s name likely points to the fact that the Irish running backs coach isn’t going anywhere, even though his name was one of the first mentioned when Urban Meyer took the Ohio State job. Last week, Eric Hansen reported that Hinton would be staying put. Whether that means a bump in title or pay for the Irish’s running backs coach remains to be seen, but it’s a great victory for the Irish and important for a position that’s got a lot of uncertainty in its ranks. Hinton has been spending extra time with Theo Riddick, who is practicing in the backfield for the Florida State game after making a cameo against Stanford. With Jonas Gray departing, the Irish will only have three healthy backs ready for spring practice, unless Cam Roberson makes more progress after suffering a severe knee injury last spring.
While Hinton’s uncertainty was widely reported, there have been message board rumblings about Chuck Martin flipping sides of the ball and becoming the offensive coordinator. While I don’t doubt that Martin could capably do the job — he was an two time national championship-winning head coach at Grand Valley State, Martin is desperately needed with the secondary this spring, as the Irish need to find replacements for Gary Gray, Robert Blanton and Harrison Smith from a group of players short on experience.
[Contrary to some reporting elsewhere, having listened to Kelly's radio appearance (you can find it here), he never mentioned Martin helping out on the offensive side of the ball, which added some fuel to the rumblings earlier this week.]
There will be time to scour the Kelly coaching tree as we guess who’ll join the coaching staff. If Kelly decides to promote internally, Warinner is a logical candidate and a quarterbacks coach will likely be brought in. If he decides the Irish need a full-time special teams coach, there’s a chance Kelly reaches outside to hire someone. The options aren’t limited, and waiting until after the dust settles from Signing Day will allow Kelly to have a full allotment of choices.