Kelly makes Denbrock’s hiring as offensive coordinator official


In what might be the least surprising official news of the offseason, Notre Dame formally announced Mike Denbrock‘s ascension to offensive coordinator. After having the interim tag for the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, Denbrock will now coordinate the offense for Kelly, with the Irish head coach calling the plays.

This is Denbrock’s second tour at Notre Dame. He was a member of Tyrone Willingham’s staff for three seasons before returning with Kelly in 2010 as the tight ends coach. After coaching that position for two seasons, he was named passing game coordinator in 2012 and moved to outside receivers coach.

Kelly and Denbrock go back to the late-80s, where both worked as assistants at Grand Valley State. Denbrock served as both Kelly’s offensive and defensive coordinator for the Lakers before heading briefly to the Arena Football League before catching on at Stanford. Between stops at Notre Dame, Denbrock rejoined Willingham’s coaching staff at Washington before spending a season at Indiana State.

Kelly will formally introduce Denbrock to the local media Friday at noon.

The Denbrock File
Year School/Franchise Assignment
1986-87 Grand Valley State Graduate Assistant
1988-89 Michigan State Graduate Assistant
1990-91 Illinois State Offensive Tackles/Tight Ends
1992-95 Grand Valley State Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks/Wide Receivers
1996-98 Grand Valley State Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
1999-2000 Buffalo (AFL) Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator/Offensive and Defensive Line
2001 Stanford Offensive Tackles/Tight Ends
2002-04 Notre Dame Offensive Tackles/Tight Ends
2005-08 Washington Offensive Line
2009 Indiana State Associate Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator/Linebackers
2010-11 Notre Dame Tight Ends
2012-13 Notre Dame Outside Wide Receivers/Passing Game Coordinator
2014 Notre Dame Offensive Coordinator/Outside Wide Receivers

Irish add commitment from CB Donte Vaughn

Donte Vaughn

Notre Dame’s recruiting class grew on Monday. And in adding 6-foot-3 Memphis cornerback Donte Vaughn, it grew considerably.

The Irish added another jumbo-sized skill player in Vaughn, beating out a slew of SEC offers for the intriguing cover man. Vaughn picked Notre Dame over offers from Auburn, LSU, Miami, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Texas A&M among others.

He made the announcement on Monday, his 18th birthday:

It remains to be seen if Vaughn can run like a true cornerback. But his length certainly gives him a skill-set that doesn’t currently exist on the Notre Dame roster.

Interestingly enough, Vaughn’s commitment comes a cycle after Brian VanGorder made news by going after out-of-profile coverman Shaun Crawford, immediately offering the 5-foot-9 cornerback after taking over for Bob Diaco, who passed because of Crawford’s size. An ACL injury cut short Crawford’s freshman season before it got started, but not before Crawford already proved he’ll be a valuable piece of the Irish secondary for years to come.

Vaughn is another freaky athlete in a class that already features British Columbia’s Chase Claypool. With a safety depth chart that’s likely turning over quite a bit in the next two seasons, Vaughn can clearly shift over if that’s needed, though Notre Dame adding length like Vaughn clearly points to some of the shifting trends after Richard Sherman went from an average wide receiver to one of the best cornerbacks in football, and Vaughn will be asked to play on the outside.

Vaughn is the 15th member of Notre Dame’s 2016 signing class. He is the fifth defensive back, joining safeties D.J. Morgan, Jalen Elliott and Spencer Perry along with cornerback Julian Love. The Irish project to take one more.

With Notre Dame expecting another huge recruiting weekend with USC coming to town, it’ll be very interesting to see how the Irish staff close out this recruiting class.




Days before facing Notre Dame, USC coach Steve Sarkisian to take leave of absence


When Notre Dame takes on rival USC on Saturday, they’ll be facing a Trojans team without a head coach. USC athletic director Pat Haden announced today that effective immediately, head coach Steve Sarkisian will be taking an indefinite leave of absence. Offensive coordinator Clay Helton will be interim head coach.

While the details are still coming into focus, multiple reports point to another incident with alcohol. Haden himself said that he made the decision after speaking with Sarkisian.

“I called Steve and talked to him. It was very clear to me that he is not healthy. I asked him to take an indefinite leave of absence,” Haden said, according to multiple Los Angeles media reports.

Sarkisian’s decision-making and alcohol use came into the spotlight this August when the head coach made inappropriate statements at a large booster event. Sarkisian addressed the media after the incident, acknowledged mixing medication with alcohol, and vowed to seek help and not to make the same mistake again.

Today’s incident appears to be a relapse, and one that requires immediate attention. Helton ran the team’s practice today and steps back into an interim head coaching role, a job he handled after the Trojans fired Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron left after not being awarded the permanent job.

“Fortunately or unfortunately, I have been in this situation before,” Helton said. “Once again, I’m very fortunate to have a group of first-class kids that are extremely talented and want to do something special here.”

This is the second major sports persona to leave his season to seek treatment in recent weeks. New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia left the team to seek treatment for alcohol issues. The Trojans are coming off an upset loss to Washington on Thursday night, losing 17-12 as a 17-point favorite.