Tommy Rees turns down Brian Kelly’s LSU overture and will remain at Notre Dame

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Irish offensive coordinator Tommy Rees has decided to stay in South Bend, Notre Dame announced on Wednesday night. 

The Athletic’s Matt Fortuna first reported the news shortly before the Notre Dame Football account on Twitter released a video of Rees telling the team, beginning with, “It’s on Twitter.”

“This is where my heart is, and my heart’s with you guys, and I care too much to leave this place,” Rees said to at least some portion of the Irish roster. “This is where I want to be. This is where I want to win a national championship.”

The 29-year-old coordinator is finishing his second full season leading the offense. After Notre Dame parted ways with former offensive coordinator Chip Long in December 2019, Rees served in the same capacity for the Camping World Bowl against Iowa State — leading the Irish offense in a 33-9 drubbing of the Cyclones.

Rees has played a role in both of Notre Dame’s College Football Playoff berths, leading the 2020 offense to a 12-0 regular season record that included the double-overtime upset over No. 1 Clemson.

In 2018, with Rees then the quarterbacks coach, the Irish also went unbeaten in the regular season, in no small part thanks to Rees navigating through a delicate transition from Brandon Wimbush to Ian Book at quarterback, electing to give the latter his first start in the fourth game of the season despite Wimbush not having lost a game.

This season, Rees guided the Irish through a similar situation, playing to the strengths of Wisconsin transfer Jack Coan, freshman Tyler Buchner and sophomore Drew Pyne — each of whom was largely responsible for at least one win on the schedule. 

Meanwhile, the Irish offense averaged 416.1 yards per game this season. Its average of 35.3 points per game was good for No. 21 in the country — the second highest mark in Kelly’s tenure behind 36.8 points per game in 2019.

On Tuesday, The Athletic’s Pete Sampson reported LSU made Rees an offer with a $400,000 pay increase to join Brian Kelly’s staff in Baton Rouge, adding that Rees would prefer to remain with his alma mater.

Rees played for the Irish from 2010 to 2013, when he recorded a 23-8 record as the starter. Rees spent 2015 as a graduate assistant at Northwestern, then became an assistant with the San Diego Chargers before making the move back to his alma mater in 2017. 

Rees’ four years as a player, combined with five years on Kelly’s coaching staff, mean that Rees was with Kelly for nine of the head coach’s 12 years in South Bend.

A senior at Notre Dame studying Film & Television with a Journalism minor, Caroline Pineda has assisted the “ND on NBC” broadcasts from the sideline since 2019 and is bringing some much-needed quality writing to “Inside the Irish” this season, as well, just as she did throughout 2020.