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Irish set to promote Parker to offensive coordinator, hire quarterbacks coach

| Thursday, February 16, 2023

After the departure of Tommy Rees, who held both the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator positions at Notre Dame, the Irish appear set to replace him with a pair of coaches. Sources expect Notre Dame to promote tight ends coach Gerad Parker to offensive coordinator. They’ll fill the quarterbacks coach position with Wisconsin assistant Gino Guidugli. 

On Tuesday, multiple outlets first reported that Notre Dame had filled the quarterback coach vacancy. Guidugli is currently the tight ends coach at Wisconsin after a stint as Cincinnati’s offensive coordinator. The Irish tabbed him for the role in South Bend after just a few months in Madison. Guidugli worked with Irish head coach Marcus Freeman on the Bearcats’ staff from 2017-2020 before Freeman’s move to Notre Dame.

Coaching staffs can’t be of unlimited size, and the hiring of Guidugli as an additional position-specific coach, along with the ongoing offensive line coach vacancy, seemed to imply Notre Dame planned on an internal hire. Irish tight ends coach Gerad Parker, considered a longshot candidate to fill the offensive coordinator role at the beginning of the search, emerged as a likely and potentially imminent option. Other sources reported the news as Wednesday evening progressed. Parker, who has no experience coaching quarterbacks and thus couldn’t fill a similar dual role as Rees, is in line to be promoted. 

Guidugli’s track record is far from the longest, having five years of experience as a quarterbacks coach. However, plenty of achievements stand out on his resume. For one, he helped develop Desmond Ridder from an unheralded three-star (Ridder wasn’t even ranked on 247sports’ composite top 1000 players) to a two-time AAC offensive player of the year and a 2022 NFL draft pick.

Also notable is Guidugli’s role in helping to develop the 2021 Cincinnati offense. Guidugli helped the Bearcats make a shock run to the College Football Playoff as the team’s passing game coordinator, designing and calling plays on an offense that averaged nearly 37 points per game. Irish fans no doubt will have plenty of familiarity with Guidugli’s offense, as Cincinnati’s signature win in their underdog Playoff run was an upset of Notre Dame on the road in South Bend.

Further enhancing Guidugli’s resume is his experience, however brief, as the head of an offense. Guidugli was promoted to offensive coordinator by former Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell ahead of last season, expanding his role that was previously much more passing-specific. The Irish are set to have a young staff on the offensive side of the ball. The average age of the present Irish offensive staff is just over 43, overseen by a 37-year-old defensive-minded head coach. With such young staff members, Guidugli’s experience will likely prove invaluable.

His experience as a play-caller and passing-game coordinator looms especially large when considering the expected promotion of Parker to offensive coordinator. Most reports at this time indicate Notre Dame passed up, for one reason or the other, on potentially hiring Andy Ludwig, who has two decades of play calling and coordinating experience. 

The Irish staff clearly sees something in Parker, but the 42-year-old has only two years of experience as a coordinator under his belt. Even then, it’s unclear precisely how much playcalling autonomy Parker had at his previous stop at West Virginia. But if Notre Dame’s decision is betting on Parker, it makes sense for them to try to surround him with as solid of a sounding board as possible.

Parker’s aforementioned tenure at West Virginia is uneven. The Mountaineer offense showed progression over the course of Parker’s two years, particularly during the back half of 2021 when he reportedly gained full play-calling duties. However, the fact of the matter still remains that Parker was demoted ahead of the 2022 campaign, a decision that no doubt played a role in his eventual departure to coach tight ends at Notre Dame.

A close friend of Freeman dating back to their shared time at Purdue, Parker’s relationship with the Irish head coach has been emphasized as a strong point in his potential promotion. There’s a mutual trust between the two that should aid their working partnership.

But as spring ball looms large just a month away, the Irish will need to start work rapidly to ensure their gamble on staff continuity turns into tangible results.

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About J.J. Post

J.J. Post is a junior in Fisher Hall. Hailing from Mountainside, New Jersey, he's currently working his way towards being the nation's foremost expert on college soccer. Whether via the button below or his overly active Twitter (@JayJayPost), feel free to reach out and talk about Notre Dame soccer, football, basketball, volleyball, baseball or softball. Or any other Notre Dame sport you can think of. Odds are he watches it as well.

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