Familiarity a trend for Kelly's offensive coordinators

Familiarity a trend for Kelly's offensive coordinators
December 29, 2013, 3:45 pm
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NEW YORK -- Brian Kelly already has his next defensive coordinator in mind, but he's only now beginning the search for his next offensive coordinator.

Interim offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock fits the profile of Kelly's previous offensive coordinators -- dating back to Kelly's days at Division-II Grand Valley State, he's always had an offensive coordinator with whom he's familiar. One of those offensive coordinators was Denbrock, who served in that role under Kelly from 1992-1995 before switching to defensive coordinator at Grand Valley State from 1996-1998.

Kelly's first offensive coordinator was Jeff Quinn, who stayed with him at Grand Valley State through 2003, then jumped with Kelly to Central Michigan and Cincinnati in the same role. When Kelly left for Notre Dame, Quinn took the head coaching position at Buffalo -- where he led the Bulls to an 8-4 record and bowl berth this year -- and Kelly brought in Charley Molnar to be his offensive coordinator at Notre Dame. Molnar and Kelly coached together at Central Michigan in 2006 and Cincinnati from 2007-2009, with the Molnar serving at Kelly's passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach.

[More: Tommy Rees leaves Notre Dame with head held high]

Molnar left for the UMass job after the 2011 season, and Kelly moved safeties coach Chuck Martin -- who previously was Kelly's defensive coordinator at Grand Valley State from 2000-2003 -- into the offensive coordinator role.

It's trend that's lasted for two decades, and based off that it'll be surprising if Kelly hires someone from outside the program or who he hasn't worked with before.

"I think he trusts me and knows everything that I do I do with the idea of making Notre Dame football better," Denbrock said prior to last week's Pinstripe Bowl. "From my standpoint, it's a loyal friendship first and a working relationship that has stood the test of time over a number of years, and just the best possible situation an assistant football coach could be in."

Still, Denbrock didn't view the last month as a tryout for the offensive coordinator job. He and Kelly didn't discuss the full-time offensive coordinator role, and instead wanted to foster a smooth transition with Martin departing for the Miami (Ohio) gig.

"I really look at it more as an opportunity to step into a role that needed filling so our football team could come here and have success against Rutgers," Denbrock said Thursday at Yankee Stadium.

[More: Kelly expects Tuitt's NFL decision to come quickly]

If Denbrock does become Kelly's next offensive coordinator, he received a vote of confidence from one of his outgoing players last week.

"He's one of the best coaches that I've had, not only from an understanding of the game standpoint but just from understanding players, players' bodies, how to really work with them," wide receiver T.J. Jones said. "I think he's a guy that'll take that role and run with it. He's a guy who, if he gets it, is well deserving of it. I know that he won't do anything less than great with it."