Notre Dame stayed in-house for its new offensive coordinator.
The Fighting Irish announced Saturday that tight ends coach Gerad Parker has been promoted to offensive coordinator. Parker replaces former Notre Dame QB Tommy Rees as the Irish OC after Rees was hired as Alabama’s offensive coordinator.
Parker came to Notre Dame ahead of the 2022 season after two seasons as the offensive coordinator at West Virginia. Before coaching at West Virginia, Parker was an assistant at Penn State and Duke. He also served as Purdue’s interim head coach for the second half of the 2016 season after Darrell Hazell was fired. Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman coached alongside Parker at Purdue for four seasons.
“I am excited to announce Gerad as our new offensive coordinator,” Freeman said in a statement. “I know firsthand the person, teacher, recruiter and innovative football mind he is. I look forward to watching our offense flourish under Gerad’s leadership and direction.”
The hire of Parker comes as Notre Dame looked at multiple external candidates. It appeared the Irish were moving toward hiring Utah offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig. Ludwig even appeared at a Notre Dame hockey game with Freeman, but Ludwig ended up staying at Utah.
Ludwig's Utah contract has a $2 million buyout and there was speculation that Notre Dame was unable or unwilling to pay the sum to get Ludwig out of his contract. But in an email obtained by Rivals' Inside ND Sports, athletic director Jack Swarbrick was emphatic that Ludwig's buyout had nothing to do with him staying at Utah.
"During our discussion with a candidate for our offensive coordinator position a national reporter accurately noted that the candidate’s buyout in his current contract was an 'obstacle.' Without seeking any clarification from us, some of the individuals who comment on Notre Dame Football concluded that this meant that Notre Dame was unwilling to pay the buyout. That is not and never was the case. As a policy matter, we do not discuss the details of personnel matters but given the extraordinary reaction by you and others in this instance I am comfortable sharing that while, prior to this week, our discussions with candidates never reached the point where we extended a formal offer, we communicated clearly in each and every instance that any offer we made would include our funding of their buyout with their current institution."
The Irish also reportedly interviewed Kansas State offensive coordinator Collin Klein. The former KSU quarterback became Kansas State’s play-caller ahead of the 2022 season and he helped the Wildcats win the Big 12 title. Like Ludwig, Klein also stayed put.
In addition to the promotion of Parker, Freeman is reportedly set to add Gino Guidugli to his staff as quarterbacks coach. Guidugli worked with Freeman at Cincinnati from 2017-20 on Luke Fickell's staff. Fickell left UC for Wisconsin after the 2022 season and Guidugli initially joined him in Madison as the passing game coordinator and tight ends coach. However, it now appears Guidugli will be headed to South Bend instead.
Parker and Guidugli will be working with a veteran quarterback in South Bend in 2023. The Irish landed Wake Forest graduate transfer Sam Hartman through the transfer portal as Hartman has one more season of eligibility remaining. Hartman has thrown for 77 TDs over the past two seasons.
Hartman enters the 2023 season as the presumptive starter after last year's primary QB, Drew Pyne, transferred to Arizona State. Pyne took over for the injured Tyler Buchner in the second game of the season and was the starter the rest of the year before Buchner played in the bowl game. The Irish finished Freeman's first season in charge at 9-4 after an 0-2 start that included a loss to Marshall.