Reports: Alabama hires Notre Dame offensive coordinator Tommy Rees

SOUTH BEND, IN - APRIL 23: Notre Dame Fighting Irish offensive coordinator Tommy Rees looks on during the Notre Dame Blue-Gold Spring Football Game on April 23, 2022 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, IN. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Tommy Rees has been the offensive coordinator at Notre Dame for the past three seasons. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Alabama has found its new offensive coordinator.

Notre Dame offensive coordinator Tommy Rees is taking the same position with the Crimson Tide, according to multiple reports. Rees’ hire comes a day after he traveled to Tuscaloosa to interview for the position. He succeeds Bill O’Brien after the former Houston Texans coach left to be the offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots.

Rees, a former Notre Dame quarterback, has been an assistant with the Irish since 2017. He coached quarterbacks for three seasons at the school before he was promoted to offensive coordinator before the 2020 season.

Notre Dame finished 9-4 in Marcus Freeman’s first season as head coach in 2022 after an 0-2 start. The team averaged nearly six yards per play as Drew Pyne took over as the starting quarterback following Tyler Buchner’s injury in Week 2. Pyne completed 65% of his passes for just over 2,000 yards and 22 TDs to just six interceptions. Running backs Logan Diggs and Audric Estime combined to rush for over 1,700 yards and 15 TDs and averaged over five yards a carry.

Rees, 30, elected to stay with the Irish for a third season as offensive coordinator after Brian Kelly left to take the LSU job in December 2021. Rees had the opportunity to follow Kelly to Baton Rouge and said shortly after Freeman’s hire that he was excited for the opportunity to coach at LSU even though “deep down” he always wanted to stay at Notre Dame. He had the chance to do so after Freeman was elevated from defensive coordinator to head coach.

But the Alabama job was clearly an opportunity that was too good to pass up. Four of the last five Alabama offensive coordinators are now head coaches in either college football or the NFL. Lane Kiffin is the head coach at Ole Miss, Brian Daboll is the head coach of the New York Giants, Mike Locksley coaches Maryland and Steve Sarkisian coaches at Texas.

Rees’ creative run game will be a fun fit with Alabama QB Jalen Milroe if he wins the starting job ahead of the season. Milroe served as the backup to Bryce Young in 2022 and had 31 carries for 263 yards over the course of eight games. Running backs Jase McClellan and Roydell Williams also return along with numerous receivers who saw playing time in 2022.

With Rees joining the staff, Alabama coach Nick Saban’s next task is to hire a defensive coordinator after Pete Golding took the same job at Ole Miss. Former Tennessee coach and ex-Alabama assistant Jeremy Pruitt has been mentioned as a candidate for that job, but his hire would likely come with NCAA scrutiny because of his role in alleged NCAA violations during his time with the Volunteers.

Notre Dame, meanwhile, has an offense that’s attractive for a lot of coaches. While TE Michael Mayer is off to the NFL, both Diggs and Estime return for their third seasons and the Irish added former Wake Forest QB Sam Hartman as a graduate transfer in the offseason. Hartman has thrown for nearly 13,000 yards over four-plus seasons with the Demon Deacons and has thrown 77 TD passes over the past two seasons.