After a season in which No. 15 Notre Dame both averaged 37.1 points per game and yet fell short of broader offensive expectations, the Irish are expected to find a new offensive coordinator, per reports.
Chip Long has served in the role for three years, arriving as part of the staff shakeup following a 4-8 showing in 2016. FootballScoop.com first reported his looming departure, with Irish Illustrated confirming it. Whether this is Long’s choice or Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly’s depends on the reading of those two reports, though the effect will be the same.
Both reports say Long will not coach the Irish in the Camping World Bowl against Iowa State on Dec. 28, meaning play-calling duties likely land in the lap of quarterbacks coach Tom Rees, who will also be a candidate to be Long’s long-term replacement.
While points and yards per game are inexact measures of offensive progress, it cannot be argued Notre Dame produced under Long, twice setting Kelly-era records for points per game.
2017: 34.2 points per game; 448.4 yards.
2018: 31.4 points per game; 440.1 yards.
2019: 37.1 points per game; 429.2 yards.
The year with an on-paper downturn, 2018, made Long a Broyles Award finalist, the award recognizing the country’s best assistant coach, for his work navigating a quarterback shift to Ian Book from Brandon Wimbush.
But Book’s inconsistent 2019 unraveled much of that goodwill in all corners. While he finished with 33 touchdowns against only six interceptions, he also completed less than 60 percent of his passes, after setting a Notre Dame record with a 68.2 completion percentage in 2018. Book, and the Irish offense as a whole, bottomed out at Michigan when he went 8-of-25 in a 45-14 blowout loss. From there, the offense regathered itself to finish the season strong, averaging 37.8 points per game in the final five contests.
In much less notable personnel news, senior linebacker Jonathan Jones has reportedly entered the transfer portal. That is more a housekeeping item than anything else as his career was marked more by off-field chemistry than on-field impact, finishing with 10 tackles in 37 games.