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Elston pledges return as Irish program moves forward

Dec 16, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT

Mike Elston

If there was any question how Brian Kelly and the Notre Dame program would address the departures of coordinators Bob Diaco and Chuck Martin, the opening statements from master of ceremonies Jack Nolan at the team banquet answered that question.

Within the first two minutes of the show, Nolan delivered a statement to players, families and recruits in attendance at the team’s annual Echoes Awards Show.

“This program is once again respected to the point that in recent weeks, a couple of other programs… have decided that members of this coaching staff, this program, are the men who can resurrect their programs, and return them to prominence,” Nolan said. “That is the ultimate compliment, and the ultimate indication that the Notre Dame program, which is back, continues to move in the right direction, which is up, under head coach Brian Kelly.”

Another key datapoint is the commitment of Irish defensive line coach Mike Elston to the program. While Elston’s name was discussed as a potential defensive coordinator for Diaco at UConn, the Irish assistant used his very first tweet to end any concern that another defensive staffer was leaving.

With that, the Irish keep a key position coach on staff and an important recruiter on the road, with Elston pledging his commitment to Kelly and the Irish.

Whether or not that means a promotion (perhaps a co-coordinator title to join Kerry Cooks) remains to be seen. But Elston is an important part of the Irish staff’s puzzle, having coached linebackers, special teams and the defensive line for Kelly between Central Michigan, Cincinnati and Notre Dame.


If you’ve got a spare two hours and feel like watching a playback of the Irish ECHOES, here’s your opportunity. It was a great presentation with some nice honors.

Here is a recap of the awards won this year:

Scout Team Offensive Player of the Year: Torii Hunter Jr. 
Scout Team Defensive Player of the Year: Joe Romano
Irish Around the Bend – Community Service: Tyler Stockton
Offensive Newcomer of the Year: Tarean Folston
Defensive Newcomer of the Year: Jaylon Smith
Special Teams Player of the Year: Kyle Brindza
Father Lange Iron Cross Award: Carlo Calabrese
Rockne Student-Athlete Award: Jarrett Grace
Next Man In Award: Kona Schwenke
Nick Pietrosante Award: Chris Watt and Dan Fox
Lineman of the Year Award: Stephon Tuitt
Offensive Lineman of the Year: Zack Martin (Fourth straight, most in ND history)
Offensive Player of the Year: Tommy Rees
Defensive Player of the Year: Prince Shembo
Most Valuable Player: TJ Jones

  1. seanb20124 - Dec 16, 2013 at 8:14 AM

    I wonder if Calabrese ever sent his boys after the cop that arrested him and Rees. Drunks say the craziest things

    • dickasman - Dec 16, 2013 at 8:29 AM

      Oh well jeez thanks for showing up to work today mike. U mean u no like Obamacare? The master of job creator? The person who will legalize all the illegal aliens? Pretty soon coach Jose will be head coach and Luis Holtinez will be in the rear view mirror. Diaco got the job cuz Obama created it right? Yeah go to work at uconn see how u like it. At least he ll be more smarter and become Republican.

      Once again thanks for calling to let me know you will be showing up. Let me call my boss and tell him I’m showing up. Oh wait, I don’t have one. Life is good… Not!

      • scottatnd - Dec 16, 2013 at 8:35 AM


      • bernhtp - Dec 16, 2013 at 8:48 AM

        Dick, the weekend’s over. Time to sober up and have some coffee.

      • dickasman - Dec 16, 2013 at 9:41 AM

        Sorry bern the strippers and cocaine really got to me this weekend. But you know what I’m sayin dawg. I ain’t on no food stamps

      • ndomer54 - Dec 16, 2013 at 8:31 PM

        Can’t you BLOCK dickasman and his crapass comments from this website?

      • don74 - Dec 16, 2013 at 10:08 PM

        He may be Dick, but he’s our dick.

  2. 4horsemenrideagain - Dec 16, 2013 at 9:50 AM

    anyone notice that nick saban signed a contract extension adding about another $1.5M/yr. to his already fat $5.5M/yr., the timing of which mysteriously coincided with Texas pushing Mack Brown out the back door. nonetheless, saban claims “i never considered going to Texas.”

    oh. it was just a big coincidence then?

    I bet there’s an AD in Tuscaloosa that would beg to differ about whether Saban was looking at real estate in austin.

    • bernhtp - Dec 16, 2013 at 10:38 AM

      Saban and his agent played the situation well.

      • 4horsemenrideagain - Dec 16, 2013 at 11:16 AM

        i won’t argue with that assessment. for a guy that doesn’t care how he is perceived or what he needs to do to get the biggest contract he possibly can, he played Alabama like a two-dollar banjo.

        i am just amazed saban would even try to convince anyone he never considered Texas, when by all accounts it was his agent that reached out to Texas months ago, and that his agent doing so possibly lead to Texas telling Brown it was time to go (along with another lackluster season for Texas, of course).

        saban clearly doesn’t give a hang that he ends up being exposed as a greedy, disingenuous liar that manipulated his employer and his own fanbase so he could get a raise.

        if it all went down as i suspect it did, i’d love for Texas to tell the press just how much saban never considered going to Texas.

      • bernhtp - Dec 16, 2013 at 11:37 AM

        Texas fans (and donors) were certainly convinced that Saban was giving them a consideration. There were frequent sightings of Saban reps in Austin looking for real-estate, etc.

        Saban might very well be telling the truth that he never really considered Texas. The alternative explanation for the behavior – that he played the possibility to up his deal at Alabama – makes more sense to me and what I always believed.

        Brown was gone at the end of this year regardless. UT’s performance in the years around and after their NC spoiled the board. Going from 11+ wins to 8- became unacceptable, especially when they’ve started losing their recruiting edge. Having two Heisman winners, RG3 and Manziel, both of whom were rejected by Brown/UT and went to other Texas schools added to the enmity. Brown was going; the only question was whether he would quit with dignity or be fired.

      • nudeman - Dec 16, 2013 at 11:54 AM

        I’m in the camp that says he definitely listened to UT. Money is only part of it though.

        If he went there and turned that thing around and won an NC or two, he’d easily go down as the greatest ever college CFB coach, winning with three massive programs like LSU, AL and TX

        I think he was intrigued by, in order: 1) The addition to his legacy that would come from winning in Austin; 2) Money 3) The professional challenge and 4) The freshness of a new start somewhere outside of Tuscaloosa

        No doubt he’s grown a little weary of the Alabama thing. Anyone would.
        I like Saban.
        Also remember reading that he and Izzo used to talk of one day coaching at ND together.
        That would have been cool

        • bernhtp - Dec 16, 2013 at 4:11 PM

          The other benefit would be living in Austin instead of Tuscaloosa. Why not make the change?

          1. Money. Though I’m sure UT was willing to pony up big time.

          2. Risk. No guarantee he could bring UT to current Alabama heights.

          3. Restrictions. While UT is not in the league with ND concerning academics et al, Saban could not get away with everything he currently does in the SEC.

          4. Upheaval/work. He would need to uproot his family again and then put in a herculean effort to do what he did at UA. It gets harder as you get older. He obviously doesn’t need to. He’ll go down as one of the coaching greats regardless.

      • liv4nd - Dec 16, 2013 at 2:00 PM

        I am sure 2 NC’s and a returned missed fg away from going to a third had nothing to do with the raise??? I am no fan of Saban. I think he is slimy and will probably bail sometime in the future just before the major sanctions are handed down. But I don’t think it’s “greedy” to try and get paid as much as your employer is willing to pay. Any one of us would do the same…if you are smart.

    • italianirish - Dec 16, 2013 at 11:32 AM

      4horsemen, not sure what you’re upset about. He’s certainly not the first employee to suggest that another organization was interested in him in order to get a more fair wage. If the school didn’t think he was worth 7 million bucks, they wouldn’t have paid it to him.

      Not long ago, Alabama’s Chancellor called Nick Saban “his best financial investment ever” (

      If you’ve got an executive who makes the company say $50 million and gets paid 5.5 million, then he asks for 7, you give it to him. You could also argue the school is playing Saban “like a two-dollar fiddle” since he’s so valuable.

      • 4horsemenrideagain - Dec 16, 2013 at 1:43 PM

        “…get a more fair wage.” come on now, he’s not cesar chavez.

        posturing during negotiations is to be expected and that saban wanted to make even more than 5.5M/yr. doesn’t bother me. like any other commodity, saban is worth exactly what some school is willing to pay him. i admit, college coaches making this kind of scratch makes me shake my head, but that’s what college football and basketball have become, so there.

        what eats at me is that saban pulled all the tricks out to fatten his contract and then expects to be viewed as this loyal, honorable guy. he starts by getting Texas to think he’d make the move and leaking the story to put the pressure on Alabama and get them thinking about how embarrassing it would be to lose saban to Texas. of course, he doesn’t comment on the rumor he started while he’s telling Alabama to cough up another 1.5M/yr. or else he’ll be hooking ’em horns, so at least he doesn’t step in it like he did while with the Dolphins. he drags out the negotiations, reportedly has the extension on his desk for a week before he signs it, and then denies that the delay was related to the Texas job.

        so he’s a huge liar with an even huger contract and i haven’t read one article where any reported bothered to ask him why it took him so long to sign the extension. now there’s some courageous sports journalism for you.

        the guy is a phenomenal coach, better than bear bryant in my mind because college football is such a different game than it was back in bear’s day and it’s so much harder these days to establish a football dynasty as saban has already done. i wouldn’t be surprised to see him win 2-3 more titles before he hangs it up. but the titles and the accolades don’t change the facts so don’t celebrate this guy as some icon on modern day capitalism. he’s a reminder of the casualties of the college sports arms race and just how low college football fans’ expectations have fallen.

        for anyone wondering “well, what about BK? he interviewed with the Eagles and it helped his contract?” you’re right, he did. that drove me nuts the same way, especially when BK tried to explain it away with the whole “i just wanted to see what was out there” nonsense. that was a real low point.

  3. nudeman - Dec 16, 2013 at 10:29 AM

    Offensive Player of the Year was WHO?
    Sigh …

    One more game.

    • dbldmr - Dec 16, 2013 at 10:33 AM

      C’mon Nude, there’s no question that you considered him the most offensive player.

      • nudeman - Dec 16, 2013 at 11:19 AM

        You got me there. True.
        One mroe game

    • viktory2013 - Dec 16, 2013 at 12:19 PM

      Heard Rees was voted MVP by Michigan, Oklahoma, Pitt, and Stanford too. He single handedly won those four games…just for the wrong team.

    • rjshan - Dec 16, 2013 at 12:38 PM

      As Jim Valvano said: “NEVER, EVER GIVE UP”

  4. tburke9601 - Dec 16, 2013 at 11:58 AM

    Hey Keith, where are the way-too-much-time-breaking-down-practice-videos-for-the bowl-game articles? 2 practice videos and you have nothing? Your slacking bro.

    • Keith Arnold - Dec 16, 2013 at 2:28 PM

      Sorry. I’m near my capacity for information. Between tracking coaches leaving, coaches staying, recruits committing and everything else, apologies if I missed a bit of fluff.

    • papadec - Dec 16, 2013 at 4:36 PM

      Hey tb – do you realize that you just proclaimed yourself as Keith’s slacking brother? Nit-picking of course, on my part. You probably meant “you’re”. I know, now that I’m retired, I have way too much time on my hands.

  5. fnc111 - Dec 16, 2013 at 6:42 PM

    That’s the problem right there. Offensive player of the year????? That sums up why we are looking at an 8-4 record right now.

    • nudeman - Dec 16, 2013 at 7:37 PM


      One more game.

  6. fitz79 - Dec 17, 2013 at 4:35 PM

    This is a program that continues to be on the rise! With this level of success at recruiting the roster gets deeper every year. And let’s not underestimate the return of Golson, which is basically like getting a 5 star recruit that you already know fits into your offense. I would like to thank Diaco and Martin for the success they brought to Notre Dame. Honestly though, I’m not too concerned. Does this mean Kelly will return to the play calling now that he has his quarterback/offense back? Perhaps Notre Dame can run the hurry up spread next year, but for real this time. Perhaps we can hire a defensive coordinator who doesn’t monster blitz on every play. This is a program that belongs in the BCS. This is also a program who deserves some better luck on the injury front next year. Not having your best players against the best teams that you play, is a recipe for frustration. Irish eyes will soon be smiling again!

  7. fitz79 - Dec 17, 2013 at 4:37 PM

    PS- and congrats to Notre Dame for winning the soccer, or, the world “football” championship!

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