As has been expected since within minutes of Notre Dame firing Chip Long after three seasons as offensive coordinator, Irish head coach Brian Kelly named Tommy Rees the new offensive coordinator on Tuesday.
“After an extensive national search, I’m proud to name Tommy Rees our next offensive coordinator,” Kelly said. “Tom’s ability to connect with our players and staff and accepting and embracing the incredible opportunity in being the offensive coordinator at Notre Dame made him the right choice. While Tom’s leadership ability and knowledge of the game was evident, it was his humble approach to his own development and desire to continue to grow and learn that were also key factors that set him apart in a talented pool of candidates.”
Rees reportedly interviewed for the offensive coordinator jobs at both Northwestern and Oregon in recent weeks, but will instead begin his fourth season coaching at his alma mater, having served as quarterbacks coach for the last three. He had previously worked at Northwestern as a graduate assistant, making that possibility an intriguing one from multiple vantage points.
As a player under Kelly, Rees was 23-8 as a starter, throwing for 61 touchdowns, the second-most in Notre Dame history.
In his time as quarterbacks coach, Rees has been credited with much of current senior Ian Book’s development. Book will, in fact, almost assuredly pass Rees in both career wins (currently at 20) and touchdown passes (57) next season in his return for a fifth year and third as a starter.
Let’s go! Excited to get back to work☘️ https://t.co/AS1YITRipX
— Ian Book (@Ian_Book12) January 14, 2020
Kelly also named running backs coach Lance Taylor the run game coordinator on Tuesday. That may come across as a promotion in name only, but it often indicates a greater collaboration among the coaching staff in forming a game plan.
“Lance’s ability to gain consensus within the staff by implementing a running game plan that fits our personnel and is tactically and technically sound makes him a great fit for this position,” Kelly said.
Taylor’s experience at both Stanford and in the NFL should help Rees adapt to calling plays, which he first did in Notre Dame’s 33-9 victory against Iowa State in the Camping World Bowl.
Kelly still has two positions in his coaching staff to fill, one presumably on the offensive side of the ball and one to replace cornerbacks coach Todd Lyght.
Great news for Notre Dame. He’s as sharp as they come, has played the game at a high level, and a Coach players are gonna go out and play their ass off for. Congrats Coach Rees, deserved. https://t.co/QUxZRK2qwR
— Quenton Nelson (@BigQ56) January 14, 2020