Notre Dame coaching turnover continues: Lance Taylor heads to Louisville, DL coach Al Washington reportedly hired

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: APR 13 Notre Dame Spring Game
Getty Images
8 Comments

One Notre Dame assistant coach leaves. Another new Irish assistant is reportedly hired. So continues these weeks of staff turnover, something that would not have been entirely unexpected even if Brian Kelly had never abruptly left for LSU and seems odd now only because Notre Dame seemed so solid in its continuity after Marcus Freeman was promoted to head coach in early December.

Early December, of course, is not when these things happen, so that six-week-old presumption was clearly premature.

Irish running backs coach Lance Taylor has been named the offensive coordinator at Louisville. Taylor had been at Notre Dame for three seasons. In that stretch, Taylor oversaw Tony Jones leading the Irish rushing attack in 2019 with a 6.0 yards per carry average as he went from fringe prospect to someone still in the NFL, and then the sudden and rapid rise of Kyren Williams, heading to the NFL this spring as a likely second-day pick.

Taylor will take over an offense at Louisville that could be primed for continued success in 2022 — after averaging 31.6 points and 6.68 yards per play in 2021 — returning both veteran quarterback Malik Cunningham and its top two running backs.

Taylor’s departure means Notre Dame will return only two offensive coaches next season: offensive coordinator Tommy Rees and tight ends coach John McNulty. Rees and Freeman have already reportedly hired a new offensive line coach in Harry Hiestand, yes that Harry Hiestand, and receivers coach Chanci Stuckey from Baylor.

Freeman also reportedly will hire Al Washington as its next defensive line coach, replacing Mike Elston only days after he jumped to Michigan, Elston’s alma mater. Multiple Sunday morning reports indicated the former Ohio State linebackers coach will reunite with Freeman, whom he coached with in 2017 at Cincinnati.

ESPN’s Pete Thamel first reported the Washington hire.

The Buckeyes defensive coaching staff has undergone extensive turnover this offseason as a result of struggles in September. Washington fell victim to that, as new defensive coordinator Jim Knowles focuses on the linebackers.

Prior to his three seasons at Ohio State, Washington spent one at Michigan, also as linebackers coach.

With the hire of Washington and the departure of Taylor, Notre Dame now needs to find a defensive coordinator and a running backs coach.