Brian Kelly very nearly had to replace another key assistant.
That’s because Inside the Irish has learned that offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock turned down the heading coaching job at Central Michigan to stay at Notre Dame.
After Dan Enos left the Chippewas to be Arkansas’ offensive coordinator, the MAC program was looking for a new head coach. And before eventually hiring former Chippewa player and Detroit Lions special teams coordinator John Bonamego, Denbrock declined the opportunity.
That type of loyalty to Brian Kelly comes at a crucial time for the sixth-year Irish head coach. Tasked with replacing Kerry Cooks, Matt LaFleur and now Tony Alford, Denbrock remaining in charge of the offense — and likely resuming his recruiting work on the West Coast — provides a few constants in an algebra equation that needs to be solved between now and the beginning of March, when spring practice begins.
Rumors have swirled since Signing Day regarding replacements on the staff. Todd Lyght seems to be a done deal. Jeff Quinn reuniting with Kelly as well. And the return of Autry Denson to his alma mater could add the third piece, though that’s more speculation at this point than any reported fact.
But after successfully replacing three assistants and then making a run to the BCS title game after the 2011 season, Kelly will have an incredibly important three-week stretch on his hands. And that’s before one of the more intriguing spring practices in recent years.
So much for a dull February.