Notre Dame introduces Gerad Parker as new offensive coordinator

Published: Feb. 20, 2023 at 8:35 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Notre Dame has found a new offensive coordinator to replace Tommy Rees following his departure to Alabama.

Head Coach Marcus Freeman made the promotion of tight ends coach Gerad Parker official with a press conference on Monday morning.

Freeman’s search for a new offensive coordinator wasn’t very long. It took just about two weeks, but it certainly was interesting.

Notre Dame brought two outside candidates to South Bend, but elected to stay in-house, promoting their tight ends coach.

Parker was hired by Freeman before the 2022 season, but this isn’t the first time these two coaches have worked together.

Their friendship goes back to 2013 when they were both assistants at Purdue. Then, they were together at Cincinnati. Before Freeman hired him at Notre Dame, Parker was the offensive coordinator at West Virginia.

Despite the connection between the two coaches, Freeman made it clear that this was a business decision.

“Listen, I’m not hiring a buddy,” Freeman said. “Let’s make sure we’re very clear because I’ve known him for a long time. I had a comfort level with who he is as a person because that’s important to me. That you treat our kids the right way, you treat our kids with respect, you love them. But you’re hiring a guy to run the offense.”

“Nobody is more charged to do this job than I am,” Parker said. “Every morning I wake up from this point forward will be to put my feet on the ground and make this the right hire for Coach Freeman and everybody in this organization.”

So what will Notre Dame’s offense look like next season with Parker calling the plays?

Last season, a Tommy Rees-led Irish offense averaged about 32 points per game and scored at least 30 points in seven of their nine wins.

A Gerad Parker-led offense will have the same pro style that Tommy’s did, but Parker will have an arguably better quarterback in Sam Hartman and more experienced weapons.

While Freeman was mum on specifics, he mentioned there were areas that Parker brought up that they can improve on, while keeping signals and formations the same.

Freeman and Parker both touched on what the offense will look like during Monday’s introductory press conference.

“I’m not hiring Gerad Parker to run Tommy Rees’ or anybody else’s offense. I’m hiring Gerad Parker to implement his offense,” Freeman said. “So, the ability to say here’s what our kids know. Here’s exactly what they know, here’s what they understand, and here’s how we can enhance and progress. That’s why I hired him.”

“We want our guys to take care of the football. We want them to have effort in physicality. We want them to play with great details and make our plays work,” Parker said. “So, sometimes we’ll cut the amount of plays and look more at making our plays work against multiple fronts and coverages so our guys are confident and play fast. So, that would be where I would start.”

There were some rumors that emerged as this job hunt was finishing up. Freeman was happy to dispel those during Monday’s press conference.

Prior to Parker’s promotion, the big name that everyone was looking at was Utah offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig, who was rumored to not take the job at Notre Dame because ND athletic director Jack Swarbrick didn’t want to pay his buyout.

Freeman said Swarbrick has never shied away from paying a buyout, and that he has the full support of the school’s administration.

Freeman also touched on the infamous hockey game photo that was taken of him, Ludwig, and Parker.

“We brought guys in that we want, correct?” Freeman asked the media. “So, we bring our top recruits in to this place. And guess what we did with them? We took them to the hockey game because Coach (Jeff) Jackson does an excellent job, and that’s a great environment.

“So, we’re not hiding the point of we brought a guy in that we wanted, so we took him to the hockey game. And he ended up not coming here. That’s okay,” Freeman added. “I don’t want to hide because I’m worried about ‘Well, somebody might think this guy turned us down, or this guy said no.’ He made a decision that’s best for him. . . If we’re going to bring our top recruits to the hockey game, then why not bring an offensive coordinator candidate to the hockey game? Because why, if we don’t get him, people are going to say, ‘Well, you tried and you lost?’ That’s life.”

We’ll get a first look at Parker’s offense during the Blue-Gold Game on April 22.