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- American college football player and coach
Multiple times we’ve discussed at Fighting Irish Wire just how close things were to completely being blown up for the Notre Dame football program following Brian Kelly’s sudden departure for LSU. Now thanks to a report from FootballScoop, we have an even better understanding of how crazy things could have ended up.
You can read the entire report here for full details but some key takeaways from it:
Dedicated Nutritional Specilaist
What was it that led to Brian Kelly’s departure from Notre Dame? It wasn’t money as the Football Scoop report says that Kelly was paid near the top-five of all college football coaches, but it was his urgency to hire a dedicated nutritional team instead of having just one person head it. The University didn’t disagree but had different ideas about the timetable of making the hires.
There was no debate from either side about the need for a singular lead person to handle nutrition for the Fighting Irish football team; Kelly wanted someone in place by the first of the year while school officials emphasized a dedicated process “to get the best possible candidate” that likely would have ensured a hire in place before the onset of spring camp in March 2022.
Kelly was seeking extension
As mentioned earlier it wasn’t as much a raise that Kelly was asking for but he did want to have a contract extension well beyond his deal that was set to expire in 2024.
“Per multiple campus and industry sources, ask for his pact to again be extended out well beyond the 2024 term that Kelly and Irish officials had agreed to and publicly announced in September 2020.”
Merriweather's father speaks out
The father of prized wide receiver recruit Tobias Merriweather, who Kelly was at the house of when reports of him taking the LSU job began to surface, spoke out strongly in regards to Kelly’s departure.
“I would appreciate you not coming here and eating all my damn BBQ and walking out the door and 90 seconds later, you’re not even the head coach anymore.”
Ohio State offered Marcus Freeman DC job
We’ve already seen and heard how Brian Kelly tried to lure both Tommy Rees and Marcus Freeman to LSU but new to this report was that Ryan Day approached Freeman with a verbal offer to become the defensive coordinator at Ohio State.
Freeman, meanwhile, his coaching star ascendant, had been approached by his alma mater, Ohio State, with an even more lucrative verbal offer as Ryan Day’s defensive coordinator.
Freeman's most impressive move
The Football Scoop report noted from a source that Marcus Freeman was a head coaching candidate as soon as Kelly left for LSU but that he did one certain thing that spoke greater volumes than anything else.
“I think biggest thing (Freeman) did,” said a source with direct knowledge, “he called every parent of the commits, he called all the recruits. Marcus called these families and had serious conversations with them.”
Importance of Securing Matt Balis
In no simpler terms, Jack Swarbrick knew he needed to keep Matt Balis as Notre Dame’s strength and conditioning coach even if he was unable to keep any other assistant.
“I was taking an enormous gamble, and I made the commitment to Matt that whoever I hired, that would be a condition of their employment,” Swarbrick told FootballScoop. “I mean, you know, I didn’t know that Marcus would be our head coach at that point. I knew he was a very strong candidate. If I had gone deeper into the pool, I would have said to each of those coaches, ‘You can’t bring your strength and conditioning guy.’ So, that’s the impact the players had on me. It’s like, ‘OK, I know the elements of this culture and how they work.’ Making sure Matt stays here.”
This report gets into details on why securing Tommy Rees as the offensive coordinator was so important and gives details as to how some of that goes down. It’s worth reading in full as it’s excellent stuff done by Football Scoop, specifically by John Brice.