For the second consecutive time, Notre Dame’s new offensive coordinator will come from an internal promotion. Irish head coach Marcus Freeman will promote tight ends coach Gerad Parker to offensive coordinator, per multiple Wednesday reports.
FootballScoop.com first reported Notre Dame’s plans of turning its offense over to Parker to replace former Irish offensive coordinator Tommy Rees after he departed for the same role at Alabama earlier this month.
Parker joined Freeman’s staff last winter as the tight end coach, coming from two years spent as the co-offensive coordinator at West Virignia, working there with Graham Harrell. Given Freeman reportedly hired former Cincinnati offensive coordinator Gino Guidugli as Notre Dame’s quarterbacks coach earlier on Wednesday, another offense-leading partnership may be in the makings for Parker.
In particular as it pertains to Guidugli, the University may take some time to officially announce him joining the staff, a frequent occurrence in South Bend for the last 21 years.
The two coaching decisions leave only an offensive line vacancy on Freeman’s staff.
In both Guidugli’s and Parker’s cases, Freeman’s time with them traces back far before he took over as Notre Dame’s head coach. Guidugli was an offensive coach at Cincinnati during Freeman’s four years on Luke Fickell’s Bearcats staff, and Freeman and Parker coached together at Purdue from 2013 to 2016.
Those tenures ended when the Boilermakers fired head coach Darrell Hazell. Parker served as Purdue’s interim head coach for the final six games of the season. Prior to that, he was the Boilermakers’ receivers coach for two seasons following two as the tight ends coach.
Freeman has mentioned in the past that the two spent many nights in that difficult stretch talking about the day one of them would be a head coach in different circumstances. A year into such circumstances, Freeman has now staked much of his future on Parker.
This offensive coordinator search began deliberately for Freeman, combing through a pile of possibilities before first reportedly interviewing Kansas State offensive coordinator Collin Klein. His search then moved to Utah offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig, a public dalliance that included notably attending a Notre Dame hockey game.
Just as Ludwig appeared the likely next Irish offensive coordinator, something or other went awry in that process and the handling of Ludwig’s hefty buyout from Utah. The public mockery of those events will cast a negative view on Parker’s promotion, fairly or unfairly.
But the facts on Parker’s résumé remain what they are. He and Freeman have a long, professional and personal relationship. The greatest hole on his offensive coaching history is working with quarterbacks, something Guidugli has a proven track record of.