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Monday, May 20, 2024
The Observer

Football: Kelly fills out coaching staff with Cincinnati transplants

Brian Kelly began to fill out the Notre Dame assistant coaching staff over the winter break, hiring five coaches and retaining one from the previous administration.

Kelly, whom Notre Dame named its new head coach in December, hired three coaches away from Cincinnati, where he previously coached. Kelly hired Bob Diaco as the new defensive coordinator, Charley Molnar as the offensive coordinator and Tim Hinton as the running backs coach.

Diaco had to replace 10 starters on Cincinnati's defense in 2009 but brought the unit into the nation's top 10 in sacks and tackles for loss.

"Bob implemented an entirely new defense and was a major factor in us winning every game during the regular season," Kelly said in a statement. "He has played for and learned under some fine defensive coaches and will be a great teacher for our guys."

Diaco played linebacker at Iowa and was a two-time all-conference selection. He was a finalist for the Butkus Award in 1995. He will be responsible for revamping a defense that showed flashes of promise but struggled to slow opposing offenses.

Molnar worked with Kelly at Cincinnati and Central Michigan and created powerful offenses in both places. Bearcats receiver Mardy Gilyard caught 87 balls for 1,191 yards and 11 touchdowns with Molnar as his receivers coach in 2009.

"Charley and I have coached together the last four years and I have complete confidence in him to lead the offensive staff and players," Kelly said. "I have seen how he has developed both quarterbacks and wide receivers and tailored a passing attack around the strengths of an offense."

Molnar must develop quarterback Dayne Crist, who saw some playing time behind an injured Jimmy Clausen but will miss spring practice because he tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) against Washington State. He won't have the services of Golden Tate, who left for the NFL Draft, but Michael Floyd will be at his disposal.

Hinton's backs rushed for 6.4 yards per carry last season. Isaiah Pead and Jacob Ramsey combined to rush for 1,245 yards and 13 touchdowns.

"He is a tireless recruiter and is well respected in our profession," Kelly said of Hinton. "Tim's expertise in the running game and pass protections combined with his experience in my offensive system make him a perfect fit for our running backs."

Former running backs coach Tony Alford will be the wide receivers coach this season, Kelly also announced.

Former Wisconsin defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks will coach the outside linebackers. Cooks said he was excited about the potential that Notre Dame offers.

"Whether they're 6-6 or 12-0 or 13-0 or whatever, it doesn't matter," he said, according to Notre Dame's athletic Web site. "It's a name that can get you in any household in the country. It's a great career and résumé builder, not only for coaches, but for players as well."

Ed Warriner will replace Tom Verducci as the offensive line coach, leaving his post as Kansas' offensive coordinator. Warinner has coached for 26 years and in 13 of the last 18 of them have been spent coaching the offensive line.

"Having coached offensive lines in four different systems, I think there is a lot I can draw from," he said. "I think I have worked with a variety of players so I'll be able to adjust to whatever the needs are of each individual."