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Notre Dame Football

Instant Reaction: Jeff Quinn Hired as Offensive Line Coach

January 23, 2018

ISD’s Matt Freeman reported earlier this week that Jeff Quinn was one of the coaches who interviewed for the vacant offensive line coaching job at Notre Dame, but many assumed it was more of a courtesy interview. The other outside candidates mentioned were thought to have a greater chance at being hired. Brian Kelly shocked a lot of people by deciding to go with his longtime offensive line coach at Grand Valley State, Central Michigan, and Cincinnati instead.

Jeff Quinn replacing Harry Hiestand was considered a possibility, but not the most likely move. I know many Notre Dame fans will not be happy. They will think about Kelly’s offense for most of his time in South Bend and associate Quinn with that philosophy. I’m not sure that is entirely fair, but I do feel like these next questions are legitimate ones.

After Quinn was let go by Buffalo as their head coach, why was he not hired to be an offensive coordinator or offensive line coach at another program? He went straight from there to Notre Dame working as an analyst and assistant strength and conditioning coach.

Was he ever pursued by another program for a full-time coaching job? Perhaps he was and he just turned it down. It does feel strange that someone that is being elevated to what people in the industry would consider an elite job was not in fact working as a full-time coach at another program and hasn’t for the last three years.

Why did Kelly not take the opportunity to hire him as a full-time staff member during the last three years? It’s understandable why he wouldn’t bring him on to replace Hiestand, but he could have brought him on as tight ends coach or used him as the 10th assistant last season. Kelly chose not to.

Those questions stick with me and I imagine will stick with others when thinking about this decision.

Now that we have that out of the way, it’s worth mentioning that if Quinn was brought in when Kelly was first hired, this would have been considered fantastic news. He was the right-hand man for Kelly’s offense and the offense was very good when they were together.

Everyone knows about the national championships they won working together at Grand Valley State and the success they had in the MAC and Big East. When Quinn was Kelly’s offensive line coach, his team’s record was 171-57-2 (.743 winning percentage). Since then Kelly has been 69-34 (.670).

That’s obviously a mark in the positive column for Quinn. I’ll dive deeper into how the offensive line performed at those stops later.

He’ll have have some good material to work with at Notre Dame, that’s for sure. Much better than he had at Central Michigan and Cincinnati. He helped develop four players into NFL Draft picks at Central Michigan, including first round pick Joe Staley. In the previous 34 years before they only had three offensive lineman drafted by the NFL. (Staley was a converted tight end)

He coached two future NFL Draft picks on the line at Cincinnati as well. None of them were blue-chip prospects. There is no doubt that it's impressive that he had six guys he worked with that were drafted in six seasons working at those two programs because that’s certainly not common.

It’s the familiar for Kelly and that’s scary for everyone who has experienced the up and down nature of Notre Dame’s program in the last eight seasons. He has big shoes to fill with Hiestand’s departure and we don’t know if he can recruit and evaluate at the same level Hiestand did.

I don’t know if it will work out or not, but his track record with Kelly before was very good. If the wins and losses are similar to what they were before, then those lingering questions I mentioned earlier will fade away fairly quickly. Expectations will be high. We'll learn quickly if Quinn can deliver on those expectations with a lot of good players returning on the Irish offensive line.

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