Notre Dame has made official its hire of former Cincinnati offensive coordinator Gino Guidugli as the Irish quarterbacks coach. The Wednesday announcement comes after Guidugli’s hire was first reported on Feb. 15.
“We are thrilled to welcome Gino to our program,” head coach Marcus Freeman said. “I have seen firsthand his talent in developing quarterbacks and teaching them how to consistently perform at an elite level in college and go on to have success in the NFL. He also brings a lot of experience in helping guide an offense to execute at a high level. He is a great addition to our staff.”
Perhaps the most notable bullet point on Guidugli’s résumé is that he was the quarterbacks coach for the last four of Desmond Ridder’s five years at Cincinnati, playing a significant role in developing Ridder from a two-star recruit into a third-round NFL draft pick and NFL starter.
At the present moment, Notre Dame needs a quarterbacks coach capable of both developing a quarterback in rising junior Tyler Buchner and of working hand-in-hand with a proven veteran in Wake Forest transfer Sam Hartman, the presumed Irish starter in 2023.
Adding Guidugli will give Notre Dame more offensive play-calling experience, having held that role at Cincinnati for the last two seasons, directing the offense toward a Playoff berth in 2021.
Whether Guidugli plays a part in play calling with the Irish, the quarterbacks coach will obviously play a part in developing game plans with newly-promoted offensive coordinator Gerad Parker. Freeman discussed that exact dynamic and even brought up Guidugli by name when he introduced Parker as offensive coordinator on Feb. 19. Freeman could not yet discuss Guidugli as a hire, given Notre Dame’s lengthy official vetting process, but he could mention past experiences working with Guidugli for four seasons at Cincinnati. For three of them, Guidugli was the quarterbacks coach, working with offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock.
“They have to have a great relationship,” Freeman said of a quarterbacks coach working with an offensive coordinator. “There has to be a trust, there has to be a very clear understanding of what is expected out of that quarterback position. The quarterbacks know exactly how the coordinator is thinking, so it’s very important for those two to be on the same page.”
In hiring Guidugli, exactly half of Freeman’s staff — five of his 10 assistant coaches — have ties to his past, all of them spending time at Cincinnati if not also elsewhere with him.
“There’s great résumés out there, great guys that can interview extremely well,” Freeman said when acknowledging his decade-long friendship with Parker. “You learn a lot about an individual when you’re with them every day. It doesn’t take long to say, this is a great coach, this is somebody in the future I would love to coach with. Maybe this is a person I don’t want to coach with.
“At the end of the day, I want to make sure I get the best coaches we can into this place, but also, there’s an element that I know and trust that this person can get the job done. I know he’s an excellent football coach. I know he’s going to develop our players, and I know he cares about them and is going to treat them the right way.”
Parker’s first collegiate coaching gig, as a graduate assistant at Kentucky, was under a similar offensive coordinator-quarterbacks coach relationship. He cited that in his introductory press conference and continued into what the split of responsibilities is likely to be between him and Guidugli.
“Anything that is technician-based, we’re going to have a pro that’s going to do that part,” Parker said. “My part will be to make sure we have unit meetings, to watch past phases of our offense and different things to make sure we’re seeing the whole scope together through the same lens, and more importantly let those guys feel my confidence in what we want to call because they also love it. …
“In the future when we’re able to officially announce our quarterbacks coach, I don’t want to be able to walk in and say something different than what he’s saying. If we’re not on the same page, speaking the same language, then we have an issue. That will not be something we’ll want to do.”
That language is based on play calls and shorthand, not on play distribution, but to lend context to Guidugli’s two years calling plays with the Bearcats compared to Parker’s time as co-offensive coordinator at West Virginia, though Parker called plays for the Mountaineers only in the final six regular-season games of 2021 …
Cincinnati SP+ ranking in 2021 preseason: No. 40 in the country with a value of 33.6
Cincinnati SP+ ranking in 2021 postseason: No. 13 in the country with a value of 37.5
Cincinnati SP+ ranking in 2022 preseason: No. 16 in the country with a value of 36.2
Cincinnati SP+ ranking in 2022 postseason: No. 72 in the country with a value of 25.2
Cincinnati 2021: 50.6 percent rush attempts, 49.4 percent dropbacks (sacks adjusted).
5.9 yards per rush, 7.5 yards per dropback.
Cincinnati 2022: 46.1 percent rush attempts, 53.9 percent dropbacks (sacks adjusted).
5.1 yards per rush, 6.3 yards per dropback.
It should be noted when looking at those Bearcats numbers, the 2021 season included a star, veteran quarterback in Ridder, not to mention one of the most talented defenses in Group of Five history, and the 2022 season very much did not.
West Virginia SP+ ranking in 2020 preseason: No. 77 in the country with a value of 26.4
West Virginia SP+ ranking in 2020 postseason: No. 72 in the country with a value of 27.6
West Virginia SP+ ranking in 2021 preseason: No. 68 in the country with a value of 29.0
West Virginia SP+ ranking in 2021 postseason: No. 75 in the country with a value of 27.7
West Virginia 2020: 44.4 percent rush attempts, 55.6 percent dropbacks (sacks adjusted).
4.6 yards per rush, 6.2 yards per dropback.
West Virginia 2021: 46.1 percent rush attempts, 53.9 percent dropbacks (sacks adjusted).
3.9 yards per rush, 6.0 yards per dropback.
Notre Dame reportedly intends to hire Virginia Tech offensive line coach Joe Rudolph to replace Harry Hiestand after he retired following Tommy Rees’s departure for Alabama, currently the only official opening on Freeman’s second coaching staff.