Notre Dame needs a new offensive coordinator, as Tommy Rees is Alabama-bound after a three-day courtship highlighted by the Crimson Tide sending a plane to South Bend International to give him a tour of Tuscaloosa.

Rees had a Zoom meeting with Alabama on Wednesday, flew to campus Thursday and made his decision on Friday, according to multiple sources close to the negotiations. Now Irish head coach Marcus Freeman is forced to decide who comes next, a decision he could at least prepare after Rees informed him of the initial interest from Alabama.

A year ago, Freeman probably wasn’t ready to think this big, even as Rees entertained interest from Brian Kelly at LSU and Mario Cristobal at Miami. A first-year head coach had enough on his plate. But after a season in which Notre Dame’s offense lost its starting quarterback in Week 2, struggled through much of September and rebounded through the second half, Freeman should have a handle on what kind of offense he wants to run and who he wants to run it.

And Freeman should have plenty of options, including former head coaches and names familiar around Notre Dame.


Paul Chryst, former Wisconsin head coach

For as sourly as his tenure in Madison ended, Chryst has long been one of the most respected offensive minds in the game. He regularly got the most out of his quarterbacks, the Graham Mertz experiment notwithstanding. And Chryst’s negotiated $11 million buyout upon his exit from the Badgers was due to be paid before Feb. 1, meaning he is available. Would he be interested, though? He’s 57, and a play-calling job in the NFL might be more appealing to him, given the lack of recruiting involved there. Then again, he’s a Midwest guy. And his brother, former MAC commissioner Rick Chryst, played baseball at Notre Dame.