Less than a week after Notre Dame lost its special teams coordinator to the Indianapolis Colts, the Irish have already found their replacement for Brian Mason, reportedly set to hire Marty Biagi from Mississippi where he held the same role.
Irish Illustrated first reported the intended hire of Biagi on Thursday afternoon. The Athletic‘s Matt Fortuna reported the distinct likelihood over the weekend with the process still in its early steps.
As soon as Mason took the Colts job, first reported Saturday morning after widespread Friday reports of his interview, Biagi’s was the name bandied about publicly. He spent the 2016 season at Notre Dame as a special teams analyst, and while there may be an understandable Irish aversion to any connection to that 4-8 faceplant, Notre Dame ranked in the top half of the country in most special teams categories that season.
Averaging 9.1 yards per punt return ranked No. 44, and 23.08 yards per kickoff return came in at No. 27. Four of those punt returns were longer than 20 yards, tied for No. 16 in the country, and five of the kickoff returns were longer than 30 yards, tied for No. 50 in the country. Lastly, the Irish blocked two kicks, far from this past year’s seven, but still No. 44 in the country in 2016.
Biagi then went to coach the special teams at North Texas for three years before spending two seasons in the role at Purdue and the 2022 season at Mississippi. Plenty of stats can be cited as to Biagi’s success in those six seasons — as pointed out by Irish Sports Daily’s Jamie Uyeyama, Biagi has not had a kicker with a field goal percentage worse than 77.8 while they have averaged 84.9 percent in total across six seasons — the most notable moment in his coordinating career illustrates his innovative approach all on its own.
In the 2018 season, North Texas executed the simplest of trick punt returns to score an early touchdown in a 44-17 upset at Arkansas. Biagi exploited general assumptions and a slight Razorbacks’ weakness to spring his punt returner for a touchdown after he very much did not signal for a fair catch.
September 15, 2018: North Texas’ with an all-time fake for a punt return TD against Arkansas. pic.twitter.com/mbdpWPC99p
— This Day In Sports Clips (@TDISportsClips) September 15, 2020
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In his three seasons at North Texas, the Mean Green scored six special teams touchdowns and blocked nine punts and four kicks.
That broad explosiveness and Biagi’s background as a punter and placekicker at Marshall from 2004 to 2007 makes Biagi a more all-encompassing special teams coordinator than most.
With Biagi’s reported hire the assistant-coaching carousel in South Bend should be concluded for this offseason. Of the three coaches added to the staff, only one had a previous connection to Freeman.
Late last week featured reports that the Irish may yet lose safeties coach Chris O’Leary and/or receivers coach Chansi Stuckey to the NFL, but both reaffirmed their commitment to Notre Dame in 2023 over the weekend per reports.
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Reports: Notre Dame special teams coordinator Brian Mason jumping to the Indianapolis Colts