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Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco at the Orange Bowl media day in 2012.

Notre Dame's Kelly can handle losing coordinators

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly often likes to talk about all the duties he had when he was at Grand Valley State and his coaching staff was not nearly the size he's had the last four years for the Irish.

Kelly even chimed in with his own take about a depleted staff after Rutgers coach Kyle Flood was asked about getting ready for the Pinstripe Bowl without three assistants Tuesday at a press conference in Yankee Stadium.

Rutgers fired defensive coordinator Dave Cohen, quarterbacks coach Rob Spence and offensive line coach Damian Wroblewsk on Sunday.

"And just to add on to Kyle's situations with his staff," Kelly told reporters. "I just want to let him know he's got too many staff members. When I was at Cincinnati, we had three staff members and we coached in the bowl game against Western Michigan, so you've got way too many. And we won that game, so I think he's fine. I don't think you have to worry about him having not enough coaches."

Kelly's mindset about losing coaches going into a bowl game will serve him well leading up to the Dec. 28 game against the Scarlet Knights (6-6).

The No. 25 Irish (8-4) will go into the bowl missing their two coordinators.

Defensive coordinator Bob Diaco has left to become head coach at Connecticut on Wednesday. A move UConn made official with an announcement early Thursday morning.

Diaco's departure came eight days after offensive coordinator Chuck Martin left the Irish to take the head coaching job at Miami (Ohio) on Dec. 3. Mike Denbrock, the Irish's outside receivers coach and passing coordinator, will serve as the offensive coordinator in the bowl game.

Notre Dame has plenty of options to fill Diaco's role either just through the bowl game or going forward into next season as Kelly's situation is different then when he took over at Cincinnati with only three of his Central Michigan assistants before leading the Bearcats to a win in the International Bowl over Western Michigan seven years ago.

Notre Dame cornerbacks coach Kerry Cooks has been the co-defensive coordinator for the last two seasons and would seem the most likely choice to take over for Diaco heading into the Pinstripe Bowl. Or Kelly could turn to defensive line coach Mike Elston as either the coordinator or co-coordinator with Cooks.

Safeties coach Bob Elliott would also be a nice short-term solution for the position. The assistant, who has well-documented battles with his health, has been a defensive coordinator at Ball State, Iowa, San Diego State and Kansas State.

The loss of assistants, especially coordinators, is never easy, but Notre Dame is well stocked with internal candidates to take over those roles.

And with the two top assistants getting head coaching jobs in just more than a week's time, Notre Dame will have plenty of applicants to come onto to Kelly's staff with the chance to being groomed to run their own show in the future.

The Journal Gazette's Assistant Sports Editor Tony Krausz covers The University of Notre Dame. Krausz, a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and a native of St. Louis, has been assistant sports editor since October 2005. Prior to joining the JG, he worked at two papers in Mississippi covering high school and college athletics.

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