As you've heard and read from me many times before, Notre Dame is never boring. It's always the next something. And here we are again. In what is normally a rather slow part of the calendar in terms of news and action, the big news has dropped out of South Bend. Now offensive coordinator Tommy Rees will be leaving Notre Dame for the same role at Alabama.
Reactions to this news from the fan base on social media and my morning call call-in show were what one would expect. Mixed. Many feel that this next season is one where Notre Dame would have more offensive talent and that Rees could finally ramp the offense up significantly. Others have felt that it is time for Freeman to have a clean slate to build the program free from all things Kelly era- ish, including Rees.
In terms of this from the other side of the table, this move makes plenty of sense for Tommy, and here's why.
Shadow Of The Dome
iSep 15, 2018; South Bend, IN, USA; A general view of the Golden Dome on the campus of the University of Notre Dame before the game between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Vanderbilt Commodores at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Rees has been inextricably linked to Notre Dame since he was 17 years old as a recruit. Then as a player. Then as a coach. Most of his young life has been centered around being a part of the Irish family. In many ways, this is what Notre Dame is about. These "lifer legends" that give all of their prime years to Notre Dame.
But with this comes a unique kind of pressure. Unique kind of microscope. Maybe a part of him is simply ready for something new. A clean slate. New environment. Fresh scene. Nobody bats an eye when a run-of-the-mill 9-5 working office professional feels this way, maybe this is similar? I couldn't blame him if he felt this way after all these years.
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Notre Dame fans generally aren't too fond of the Saban Alabama dynasty which is quite understandable as their success has come at our expense in painful fashion on more than one recent occasion. But objectively speaking, if Rees wanted to branch out away from Notre Dame, why not go learn from the most accomplished modern era coach himself? Makes a ton of sense to me.
Whether Tommy has NFL College Head Coaching goals, it cannot be understated what a successful tenure under Nick Saban can do for one's job prospects. This is the biggest of opportunities.
Jan 8, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) celebrates his game-winning touchdown in overtime against the Georgia Bulldogs in the 2018 CFP national championship college football game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
If you are reading this right now I don't need to remind you just how loaded the Alabama roster is with talent year after year. They are a 5-star factory pumping out top NFL talent on a yearly basis. This no doubt appeals to Rees greatly, as it should.
Should Rees-led Tide offenses light up the scoreboard, he would have the satisfaction of proving to all of the Notre Dame fans and media that have questioned him along the way (including me), that he is indeed terrific at his job but needed upper-echelon talent for it to truly show.
Title Hunt Every Year
Oct 8, 2022; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Tyler Harrell (8) celebrates after defeating the Texas A&M Aggies at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
Alabama is a legitimate National Title contender every year. Notre Dame is not. It's very easy for me to see the appeal in this for Rees. He no longer has to worry about the Irish rebuilding the roster and the new talented recruits to develop. At Alabama, there are reloads not rebuilds.
With this fact does come more pressure and expectation, but it appears both Rees himself and Saban both agree he's more than up for the challenge. I know I will be supremely intrigued the first time Rees vs Kelly in an SEC game appears on my television. Things change fast, don't they?
Always An ND Guy
May 1, 2021; Notre Dame, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish offensive coordinator Tommy Rees and quarterback Drew Pyne (10) leave the field after the Blue-Gold Game at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Rees has given so much of his early life to Notre Dame wholeheartedly. He isn't a traitor or a turncoat. This dynamic is simply the nature of the business of coaching which applies even to "Notre Dame guys".
This could end up being the best possible scenario for all parties involved. Freeman can have more autonomy of the program by shedding more Kelly-era remnants and Rees can spread his wings beyond the dome. Perhaps everybody can win in this when all is said and done?
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Story originally appeared on Fighting Irish Wire