New Notre Dame offensive coordinator Gerad Parker’s résumé is long and varied, part of what made him an alluring candidate to Irish head coach Marcus Freeman. As Freeman interviewed Parker, more a focus on offensive specifics than who Parker is personally given they have known each other for more than a decade, the applicability of that experience became more and more clear.
“The ability to say here’s where the (2022 Notre Dame) offense that I was a part of is at, here’s the strengths, here’s some of the weaknesses, here’s the ways that I believe we can improve,” Freeman said Monday of what stood out to him. “Here’s where I can bring in my own philosophy as an offensive coordinator and help us enhance.
“That to me, halfway through [the interview], I said, this is the guy. The way [Parker] talked about installs, the way he talked about developing our staff, the way he talked about developing the culture of that offense, there were so many different points.”
During Parker’s introductory press conference, he mentioned most of his stops and their myriad of offensive philosophies. In his 11 roles in nine stops across the last 16 seasons, Parker has moved from the graduate assistant ranks to offensive coordinator, from the FCS-level to the Power Five.
Parker on his year (2007) as a graduate assistant at Kentucky:
“Randy Sanders is the quarterbacks coach at the University of Kentucky at the time, Joker Phillips is the coordinator. Everyone asks, how do you [develop a relationship with a quarterbacks coach, reportedly former Cincinnati offensive coordinator Gino Guidugli]? I saw two guys who were pros function that way in my first job as a GA, and it was phenomenal to see them do it and do it at a very high level.”
On his first year (2008) at UT-Martin as the running backs coach:
“[Sanders] helps me get the job with Jason Simpson at UT-Martin. I coached running backs, I was scared to death. I had no clue. I was a wideouts guy who had just got done GAing with offensive line.
“To go do something you really felt was a big step for me, it taught me a lesson on being prepared and taking steps. …
“My first job, we were pro-style with coach Simpson, which was really good because I was coaching a two-back offense.”
Parker spent the next two seasons (2009-10) coaching UT-Martin’s receivers:
“Then moving to wide receivers, and then being allowed to do things I probably wasn’t prepared to do, just allowed you to develop this huge scope of things and how to teach and learn ball, develop some things, what you want to do or not to do, that drove me.”
Next came two seasons (2011-12) as Marshall’s receivers coach. For context, Rakeem Cato was the quarterback those two years. His sophomore season, 2012, he threw for 37 touchdowns and 4,201 yards in just 12 games:
“To be able to flip the gears and go to Marshall with Bill Legg and Doc Holliday was our head coach, we played spread and as fast as you could. We ran more plays than anybody else in the country, led the country in passing, played fast, fast, fast. Didn’t run it much.”
Editor’s note: Let’s check those stats. In 2012, the Thundering Herd scored 40.9 points per game, No. 7 in the country. It rushed the ball on just 41.6 percent of its snaps, averaging 4.9 yards per carry and 6.6 yards per dropback. With 365.1 passing yards per game, Marshall indeed led the country. Only Mike Leach‘s Washington State averaged more pass attempts per game.
In only 12 games, Marshall ran 1,087 plays, third-most in the country and behind only teams that played 14 games. Parker’s claims check out.
Parker then met Freeman at Purdue, Parker the tight ends coach for two years (2013-14) and the receivers coach for two years (2015-16) before head coach Darrell Hazell was fired halfway through the 2016 season:
“Came back to a West Coast style offense when we were at Purdue, and that helped me. I coached tight ends there, that was a different realm. An 11 personnel, RPO approach.”
After a season as the running backs coach at Cincinnati, two seasons at Duke under David Cutcliffe and one year as the receivers coach at Penn State, Parker took over as co-offensive coordinator at West Virginia:
“Then little bit of variations in multiple things at West Virginia.”
For anyone keeping track, those were specific mentions of a pro-style offense, a spread offense, a West Coast offense, an RPO look and then a wide array on top of all that.
“It’s been good to be involved in all kinds of kinds, so to speak,” Parker said. “I’ve been 10 personnel (one running back, no tight ends), 11 personnel (one of each), rock it and roll and go RPO, we’ve been in 12 pro-style (one running back, two tight ends), and then what we’ve done here.
“I think that scope helps us be as multiple as we want to be here.”