Notre Dame Staff Duties: 2012In addition to three new staff members, each returning coach received new duties for 2012 and only Bob Diaco, Kerry Cooks, and Mike Elston remained with their position group from 2011. The team's strength and conditioning staff appears intact, led by Director of Football Strength & Conditioning Paul Longo, and aided by Jacob Flint and Lorenzo Guess.
Bob DiacoAssistant head coach/Defensive coordinator/Linebackers – Promoted from his two-season role as defensive coordinator, Diaco has also coached inside linebackers since arriving on campus and took over the entire unit last year.
Notre Dame's defense allowed nearly 26 points per game prior to his arrival – they've allowed fewer than 21 per game since with just eight of 26 foes scoring more than two offensive touchdowns vs. Diaco's unit over a two-year span.
Kerry CooksCo-defensive coordinator/Cornerbacks – Began as the team's outside linebackers coach in 2010 but worked extensively with the defensive backfield. The sensible move to cornerbacks coach came to fruition last spring. He remains there today with an expanded role as co-defensive coordinator in support of Diaco.
Cooks' position challenge is among the staff's greatest this season as no starters return on the corner though Bennett Jackson saw ample time late last year.
Chuck MartinOffensive coordinator/Quarterbacks – Began as the team's defensive backfield coach and recruiting coordinator in 2010, holding the latter role through NSD 2011. He coached the safeties last year and will move to offense to tutor the team's quartet of quarterbacks and run the daily operations of the offense – a role in which he thrived as head coach for Grand Valley State following Brian Kelly's departure from the Lakers after the 2003 season.
Tony AlfordRunning backs/Slot Receivers/Recruiting Coordinator – Returns to coach the team's running backs, his initial assignment under former head coach Charlie Weis in 2009. Alford, the longest-tenured Irish staff member, moved to wide receivers coach upon Kelly's arrival in 2010 and remained there through last season. With the roles of RB and slot receiver expected to meld as the team's offense progresses, Alford's role as coach of both isn't of the dual nature it appears from those outside the program.
Of note: Two of the ‘backs he'll coach this season: Cierre Wood and Theo Riddick, were his pupils as true freshman in '09. Lauded for his national recruiting efforts while in South Bend, Alford takes over the Recruiting Coordinator role entering the 2013 (present) cycle.
Scott BookerTight Ends/Special Teams Coordinator – Promoted to his dual role after a two-season internship with Kelly's offense. Booker previously coached defensive backs at both Western Kentucky and Kent State where he played from 1999-2002 and became a MAC all-academic team member.
Mike DenbrockOutside Receivers/Passing Game Coordinator – Served as the team's tight ends coach in both 2010 and 2011 after previously working under ex-Irish head coach Tyrone Willingham in 2002-04, then as the team's offensive tackles/tight ends coach. Worked with Kelly from 1992-98 at Grand Valley State where from a four-year span he was the head coach's offensive coordinator.
Denbrock will work with the X and W receivers (T.J. Jones and Michael Floyd's position in 2011, respectively) and serve as the passing game coordinator in congress with OC Chuck Martin, running game coordinator Harry Hiestand (below) and Kelly.
Bob ElliottSafeties – One of three new arrivals, the 33-year coaching veteran has worked for nearly three decades as a defensive backs coach and/or defensive coordinator. Elliott recruited and coached current Irish cornerbacks coach Kerry Cooks at Iowa and during the latter's graduate assistant year at Kansas State in 2004.
Elliott also served on the Hawkeyes defensive staff during Bob Diaco's playing career in Des Moines and was his new boss's coach during Diaco's seasons as a grad assistant for the Hawkeyes in 1996-97. He worked with Director of Football Strength & Conditioning Paul Longo for 10 seasons during the late '80s and early-to-mid 90s.
Mike ElstonDefensive Line – Remains the team's defensive line coach, a unit he's tutored and improved dramatically since his arrival with Kelly in 2010. Elston served as the team's special teams coordinator over the last two seasons as well but will now serve as one of its assistants to new coordinator Scott Booker as each Irish assistant will play a varied role among the specialty units depending on the number of specialists from his assigned position group (for example, Elston would likely have fewer defensive linemen involved than would Elliott's defensive backs).
Irisheyes.com ranks Elston's defensive line as the team's best unit heading into 2012.
Harry HiestandOffensive Line/Run Game Coordinator – Takes over the offensive line coach role held by Ed Warinner from 2010-11 and the run game coordinator aspect Warinner adopted last fall. Hiestand coached the Chicago Bears offensive line during their run to Super Bowl XLII (2006 season) and most recently served as the offensive line coach for the University of Tennessee (2010-2011).
Hiestand is a 29-year coaching veteran who's worked exclusively with offensive linemen since the beginning of the 1989 season, coincidentally, the beginning of a four-year stint at Cincinnati where his current boss was employed nearly two decades later prior to taking over at Notre Dame
Note: Individual articles regarding each assistant coach are forthcoming. Click here for the first involving Chuck Martin