Friday, February 1, 2008

Thoughts on Irish Coaching Change

Wow. That is the first word that comes to mind when I think about the coaching change announced yesterday, where Bill Lewis retired and John Tenuta was hired to replace him. Tenuta will hold the same title of Assistant Head Coach for Defense that Bill Lewis held. His specific positional responsibility has not been officially announced yet. I first heard about this rumored change last weekend, and my reaction was shock and disbelief that Tenuta would come to ND for anything less than a DC role.

Before I talk about the Tenuta hire, let me first say that I am saddened to lose Bill Lewis from this coaching staff. Anyone who reads this blog knows that I think Bill Lewis is one of the finest people, coaches, and most importantly teachers around. I don't think people realize just how good a coach this guy is. He has 40+ years of coaching experience, has been in the NFL, been a head coach in college, and is still a fantastic recruiter. The players love Lewis and his coaching style and his unit improved year after year. I know everyone is excited about Tenuta coming and the blitzing, etc., but the Irish are also losing one heck of a coach from their staff. I am thrilled that Lewis will be staying on in the athletic department. He is a phenomenal ambassador for ND and he has a ton of recruiting contacts with coaches in the southeast that Charlie, Corwin, and the rest of the staff will be able to tap into.

Now, on to John Tenuta... There is a TON to LOVE about this hire. First, the guy can flat out coach. You don't need to listen to pundits or read his bio to know that. Just think of the teams he has been associated with and the defenses he has put together. He is a vocal, intense, aggressive coach and will bring that style to ND. Second, Tenuta is a guy with a lot of experience. Losing Bill Lewis, you are losing a guy with a ton of coaching experience. With Corwin being fairly inexperienced as a DC, it would have been a mistake to replace Lewis with an inexperienced coach. Corwin leaned on Lewis a lot last year and now he will have another experienced coach to work with on defense. Third, hiring Tenuta proves yet again that the supposedly arrogant and egomaniacial Charlie is willing to hire the best coaches available. This past season, I read way too many articles about how Charlie doesn't let his coaches coach and how he wants "yes men" on his staff. Let me assure you first that is not the case, and second, Tenuta is not a "yes man" by any means.

While I strongly believe this is a great hire, there are some potential concerns that others have raised with the hiring of Tenuta. First, he is rumored to be a poor/disinterested recruiter. I think it is fair to say that Tenuta would much rather be coaching talent than recruiting it. Bill Lewis was a fantastic recruiter, so someone will have to pick up the slack. Tenuta will recruit for ND I am sure, but other coaches will have to pick up some slack there. I do think there will be some guys who are interested in ND just because they know of Tenuta's reputation. Second, some folks wonder if Tenuta will be 1 year and out at ND. I have no idea if that will happen or not, but I am sure it was discussed between Charlie, Corwin, and Tenuta. While I am always a fan of continuity on a staff, there is something to be said for bringing in a guy who is at the top of the profession, having him tutor your young guys, instill an aggressive mindset in them, and allowing your coaches to learn from him. I think Corwin, Jappy, and Polian will be better coaches for having worked with Tenuta, even if it is for only 1 season. Third, there is a concern about how this move affects Corwin. The answer is that it doesn't. This is in no way a reflection on Corwin's performance, ability, or potential. This move is about filling a vacancy with the best candidate out there. If Corwin was left out of the loop in the search and interviews, I would say that is a definite red flag. However, Charlie made perfectly clear that Corwin was part of the interviews and had multiple discussions with Tenuta about how they would work together. I fully expect Charlie to give Corwin a strong vote of praise on Feb. 8 when he discusses the move.

In sum, I am extremely sorry to see Bill Lewis retire, and wish him the best in his recovery from upcoming surgery. I am equally excited for the arrival of John Tenuta and can't wait to see him help this defense develop and mature. Signing day is around the corner!!!!!! GO IRISH!!!!!!!!


OC Domer said...

Great points. I don't think Tenuta will be here long term, but he'll be a great asset while we have him. Corwin will learn a lot, as will our young players. Hopefully the defense can really start bringing the "nasty" that Coach Weis promised to deliver.

IrishGlory said...

oc - I agree. I really don't see a down side to this move as long as everyone is on board and egos are checked. I know for a fact Tenuta desperately wants to become a head coach. He sees the talent the Irish are bringing in and knows that if he can be part of the resurgence of ND football, he will get his shot at a top college HC job.

sir john said...

Good, job here. It doesn't bother me if Tenuta is here but a year. It is his name value. Past Ianello who Coach Dan clued me in on as he is qa wikie fan, I never heard of our Asst. coaches.

Anonymous said...

I had the pleasure of talking to Coach Lewis on a flight home from last year's Blue and Gold game- what a high character guy. ND has recruited SEC and ACC country pretty well unter Coach Weis, and I have to think much of that success is thanks in great part to Coach Lewis. Hopefully, Tenuta, whether he relishes recruiting or not, can keep that going.

Face Mask said...

With this change,where do you see the IRISH Defensive identity being?Does this change your thinking on the type of Def. we will run?