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Notre Dame Football

Instant Reaction | Gerad Parker Hired as Notre Dame's Offensive Coordinator

February 15, 2023

It didn’t take long for Marcus Freeman to make his decision about who his guy was after the debacle caused by the Notre Dame administration.

According to a report from Football Scoop, Freeman is elevating tight end coach Gerad Parker to the role. He’s also hiring former Cincinnati offensive coordinator Gino Guidugli to coach quarterbacks.

In terms of what to expect from Parker’s offense, it’s mostly unknown at this point. Though he held the title offensive coordinator at West Virginia in 2020 and 2021, he did not call plays for the majority of that time. He took over that role in the latter part of ‘21, but it wasn’t his offense.

Taking the results from those years wouldn’t tell a story about how he might do with Notre Dame’s offense because it would be giving him credit (or placing blame) on something he wasn’t in control of.

In that sense, this is much like Brian Kelly choosing to promote Clark Lea in 2018. Parker is very respected amongst his peers, has a reputation as a strong recruiter, and like Lea, his position group played really well for Notre Dame. We just don’t know how good he will be at calling the shots on offense.

That’s unsettling to Notre Dame fans, especially those who were happy with what Andy Ludwig was going to bring to the table. There were legitimate questions about the ceiling for the team with his offense because of historically unexplosive passing attacks, but the floor for him was going to be a top-20 offense that ran the ball extremely well. His hire would have provided stability at the very least.

This is more of an uncertain situation. 

No one could say that Lea was going to end up doing as well as he did as a defensive coordinator. We knew he was an intelligent and thoughtful guy. I was impressed when getting a chance to speak to him and learning from him at the Notre Dame Coaches Clinic. We had heard nothing but good things about him, but that still didn’t mean much until he had to actually call a defense.

It worked out well for him and Notre Dame. They went to the College Football Playoff in his first year and twice in three years with him at DC. It could go that well with Parker.

Whoever the OC is is walking into a situation where Notre Dame is one of the top teams in the country when it comes to transfer and returning production by offensive success rate. (For more on how that is calculated, click here)

Every Notre Dame fan knows this offense has a chance to be very good in 2023. Things are set up well for whoever is calling plays.

That’s why this outcome is a risk for Freeman. His hand was forced because of the incompetence of the administration in regards to Ludwig and the timing of Rees leaving, but Parker wouldn’t be someone other top programs would be pursuing to call plays for them. That’s not how a hire should be judged, but to pretend that it isn’t wouldn’t be acknowledging reality.

It’s also a reality that the disdain that Notre Dame fans have right now for the program is going to be passed on this decision. It’s unfair, but the only way making a call like this takes away the negative feelings people have towards the athletic department is to have success in games to quiet things down. Unfortunately, they don’t play a game for another six months.

We won’t know if this was a good or bad hire for a long time. 

As for Guidugli, he’s coached quarterbacks at Cincinnati since 2018. He’s the one who coached Desmond Ridder the entire way and helped turn a player who was not ranked in the top-1000 prospects in the country as a recruit into a third round draft pick and the 14th ranked passer in the country.

As a pure position coach who has a relationship already with Freeman, it’s a no-brainer hire.

It's a new combination working together along with a new offensive line coach soon added to the mix as well. The clock is already ticking towards spring ball and we’ll hopefully get a glimpse of what this new offense will look like then.

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