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Martin, Diaco build their staffs (and rosters)

Dec 31, 2013, 5:55 PM EDT

Matt Cashore - USA Today Sports Matt Cashore - USA Today Sports

As Brian Kelly gets closer to finalizing his coaching staff moves, his former coordinators Chuck Martin and Bob Diaco have started to fill up their respective staffs as well. As you’d expect, both ex-Irish coaches have taken some pieces from Notre Dame with them.


Before we get to coaching staffs, it looks like some Irish seniors will have a place to play football next season. Brian Hamilton, formerly of the Chicago Tribune, tweeted that he expects Alex Welch, Lo Wood and quarterback Andrew Hendrix to play next season for Martin at Miami. While Welch and Wood were already decided, Hendrix’s decision to head to Miami signals that he thinks the starting quarterback job is there for the taking, as he’ll battle Ohio natives Drew Kummer and Austin Gearing.

Right now, the only official hires made by either Diaco or Martin have come in Miami, where Martin has reached back to his Grand Valley days for his co-offensive coordinators and the Irish staff for his first position coach. Martin has tapped George Barnett and Eric Koehler as his co-offensive coordinators, with Barnett coaching the offensive line and Koehler in charge of the quarterbacks.

Koehler was Martin’s offensive coordinator at Grand Valley after being the head coach at Wartburg College, staying with the program until last season, when he coached quarterbacks at Illinois State. Barnett is a graduate and four-year letter winner at Martin’s alma mater, Millikin. He spent two years as the Grand Valley offensive line coach before moving on to Illinois State in 2010, where he was the run game coordinator and offensive line coach. He was promoted to offensive coordinator last season in addition to his offensive line duties at Illinois State.

Martin reached into the Notre Dame graduate assistant pool for his first position coach hire. Pat Welsh spent the last two seasons as an offensive graduate assistant for the Irish, working primarily with Harry Hiestand. Welsh’s connections with Martin go back to Grand Valley as well, where Welsh served as a student assistant to Martin for two seasons before being hired as a defensive assistant in 2010. He coached quarterbacks at Wittenberg College before coming to South Bend. is reporting that fellow Irish grad assistant Corey Brown is joining the defensive staff at Miami. Brown played defensive line at Iowa from 1995-99, at the same time as Bob Diaco and Kerry Cooks. After playing arena football professionally and working at the junior college level as a coach in Iowa, Brown finished his degree from Iowa in 2005 and has been assisting Mike Elston on the defensive line the past two seasons. He’ll reportedly coach the defensive line for Martin. Martin will also reportedly hire Citadel assistant John Hauser as his defensive backs coach.

While it isn’t official, reports that Martin will bring in another guy with ties to the Notre Dame program, with career rushing leader Autry Denson joining the staff as the running backs coach. Denson has been coaching at Bethune-Cookman. also has updates on Diaco’s progress filling out his staff. While there have been no official announcements yet, the biggest news is that he’ll reportedly be taking Ernest Jones with him to UConn, where Jones will get back into the coaching ranks as the Huskies’ running backs coach. Jones has served as the director of player development and engagement the past two seasons at Notre Dame. He served as the head coach at Alcorn State, his alma mater, for a season and worked with Diaco at Cincinnati and Central Michigan as an assistant.

Diaco will also reportedly take with him to UConn Josh Reardon. A defensive graduate assistant the past two seasons, Reardon was the interim linebackers coach during bowl preparation after working primarily with Diaco the past two years. Reardon played his football at Central Michigan under Kelly and Diaco, before becoming a student assistant with the Chippewas.

Expect more hiring news to become official before the recruiting dead period ends January 3rd.

While Diaco and Martin are no longer a part of Notre Dame’s staff, it’s interesting to look at how they reach into their network of assistants to build their own programs. While most only look at Brian Kelly’s coaching tree through big time hires like Jeff Quinn, Charley Molnar (now out at UMass after two seasons), Martin and Diaco, the promotion of graduate assistants to full-time position coaches at programs like Miami and UConn show another extension of Kelly (and Notre Dame’s) growing footprint in college football.





  1. newmexicoirish - Dec 31, 2013 at 6:32 PM

    I hope BK finalizes his coordinator positions soon. We still have some recruits on the board who will need to be given a lot of care and attention in the coming weeks. These guys will need to jump in with both feet.

  2. dudeacow - Jan 1, 2014 at 10:50 AM

    If you weren’t a fan of Isaiah McKenzie, you should be now.

    • upthera44 - Jan 1, 2014 at 1:20 PM

      Is there any update on his admission?

  3. dudeacow - Jan 1, 2014 at 11:01 AM

    Keith, I was reading this unusually good article on B/R. It was so good in fact, that I read it twice. I just wasn’t used to that type of quality on Bleacher Report. So I went to see who the author was. And of course, it was you. Thank you, Keith, for separating yourself from the dopes on there who write the Stanford Cardinals, Josh Riddick (I don’t know how they got that one), talk about how Tee Shepard will start for ND–a year after he left, say Zach Martin and not Zack, and always use that stupid picture of TJ Jones when writing about Tuitt! Seriously! He’s like 5′ 11″ 180! Tuitt is 6′ 6″ 320! How can you mess that up??

    • jimbasil - Jan 1, 2014 at 1:49 PM

      I wonder, is it as stupid as calling Tai-ler Jones – TJ Jones when his middle initial isn’t a J?

  4. newmexicoirish - Jan 1, 2014 at 1:26 PM

    He’s waiting for his SAT results. If they’re not high enough he has one more opportunity to retake the test. This kid wants to go to Notre Dame and I’m pulling for him – I wish him a lot of luck!

  5. mtflsmitty - Jan 1, 2014 at 11:10 PM

    Sadly, for every one Isaiah McKenzie with 35 offers there are 1,000 others with no chance.

    Regardless, if he secures the 850 on his SAT for attend ND, I hope Isaiah finds a college football home where he can excel as a player, and develop as a man. Good luck, IM.

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