9 potential candidates to replace Tommy Rees

Just a year after declaring he wanted to stay and fight for Notre Dame, offensive coordinator Tommy Rees travels to Tuscaloosa to join Nick Saban’s staff in Alabama. Rees took on the role of Notre Dame in 2020 and showed signs of fame. He also made some decisions that left Notre Dame fans quite frustrated.

The new offensive coordinator is entrusted with some difficult tasks. Notably, Rees significantly increased the level of talent in the quarterback room. When you look at what Notre Dame had on her list from 2017 to 2022 and look at the projected depth charts for the years to come, you can’t help but see a significant step in the right direction.

But who will replace Tommy Rees?

This will be a major test for Marcus Freeman early in his head coaching career, as hiring quality assistants is a must for any sustained success. Here are nine names he should at least look at to replace Rees.

Phil Longo-Wisconsin

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Longo is a prime example of why the timing of this situation is too bad for Notre Dame. Longo led an offense at Mississippi State averaging over 500 yards per game before going to North Carolina and helping develop Sam Howell and Drake Maye into collegiate stars. However, Longo has already signed a contract this offseason and is leaving Chapel Hill for Wisconsin. Freeman’s call would likely fall on deaf ears.

Ryan Grubb-Washington

Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

A big reason Washington changed things so much in just one season was their improvement on offense. Talent obviously helped, look no further than quarterback Michael Penix who made the move to the team. Grubb clearly played a big part in that, and Washington had the second-highest yards in FBS last season. Grubb was Nick Saban’s first choice in Alabama before turning down the flood, but maybe he’d be more interested in moving back to the Midwest since he grew up and went to college in Iowa?

Andy Ludwig-Utah

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re looking for a balanced attack, then Ludwig is the type for you. He’s helped Utah’s offense consistently rank among the top in the Pac 12 while also running and throwing consistently. Ludwig would be a big age leap compared to Rees, but if he reflected the success he’s shown in Utah since 2019, it certainly wouldn’t matter.

Clint Trickett-Marshall

September 10, 2022; South Bend, Indiana; Marshall Thundering Herd running back Khalan Laborn (8) dives into the end zone for a touchdown in the second quarter against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium. Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Just a few months ago, Notre Dame had no answer to Marshall’s furious attack on a day when the Thundering Herd shocked the Irish. The offensive coordinator for Marshall that day?

Trickett was a Florida State college quarterback before moving to West Virginia. He has limited skins on the wall but was responsible for calling out the games that led to Marshall averaging more than 205 rushing yards per game last season. He’s a name to watch out for in the years to come.

Mike ShanahanJames Madison

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

No, not that Mike Shanahan.

James Madison was new to FBS in 2022, but you couldn’t tell by watching his offense. Their 34.4 points and 451.5 yards per game ranked in the top 25 in the country while averaging nearly 6 yards per game. Like Trickett, Shanahan is still early in his coaching career, but he clearly seems to know how to run an offense.

Charlie Weis, Jr. – Ole Miss

(AP Photo/Joe Raymond)

wanna feel old Charlie Weis, Jr., the boy who used to listen through the headset when his father called plays on the sidelines at Notre Dame, is an SEC offensive coordinator. And a good one at that.

Ole Miss averaged 496.4 yards per game last season, good for the eighth-best total in all of FBS. It wasn’t done in the way one would normally expect from a Lane Kiffin team, however, as their 3,336 rushing yards last year in all of college football were trailed only by the Air Force and Army. That appears to be a blueprint that would be treasured in South Bend.

Joe Brady – Buffalo Bills

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Brady was one of the hottest names in coaching following the 2019 season, in which he helped lead LSU’s offense to historic heights and the Tigers to a national championship. Was it as much Brady as he was given credit for? Or maybe Joe Burrow, Ja’marr Chase and Jordan Jefferson would look good if you or I coached them.

Regardless, Brady went to the NFL to coach, staying in Carolina for just a year before being hired by the Bills. He is currently the quarterback coach there.

Byron Leftwich – Unemployed

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

I didn’t go into this list thinking I had two Marshall connections, but here we are. The former Thundering Herd star was recently fired as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offensive coordinator after a poor performance in 2022.

Year – NFL Rank in Scoring
’20: 2
’19 3rd (no Tom Brady this year)

Would he be interested in the college game and put the work into the recruiting path? It would certainly be worth a call to find out.

Jeff Lebby—Oklahoma


Jeff Lebby has become a star coordinator in the collegiate ranks and may soon be heading towards his own job as head coach. Lebby continued Weis, Jr. at Ole Miss, where he was very successful, before taking the job in Oklahoma last offseason. If you want Notre Dame to have a high scoring and fast offense, unlike what we’re usually used to, Lebby fits that mold perfectly. However, it would not be easy to poach a coach from Oklahoma for a career change.

Story originally appeared on Fighting Irish Wire

Leave a Comment