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Notre Dame

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Irish fill assistant’s slot for bowl

– Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly didn’t waste time announcing who would fill the Irish’s vacant defensive coordinator post for the Pinstripe Bowl.

Kelly announced Thursday that cornerbacks coach Kerry Cooks, who has also been the co-defensive coordinator for the last two seasons, will be the defensive coordinator when the No. 25 Irish (8-4) play Rutgers (6-6) on Dec. 28 in Yankee Stadium.

The announcement came after former defensive coordinator Bob Diaco was introduced as Connecticut’s new head coach Thursday after signing a five-year, $8 million deal. His salary will rise from $1.5 million in the first year to $1.7 million in the fifth.

Diaco, who left for the UConn job Wednesday, was the second coordinator the Irish lost in an eight-day span.

Chuck Martin, Notre Dame’s offensive coordinator the last two seasons, left to become head coach at Miami (Ohio) on Dec. 3. Mike Denbrock, the Irish’s outside receivers coach and passing coordinator, will serve as the offensive coordinator against Rutgers.

If Kelly is sweating going into a bowl game without his two coordinators, he isn’t showing it.

Kelly voiced his thoughts on losing staff after Rutgers coach Kyle Flood talked about the challenges of not having three assistants, who were fired after the season, during a Tuesday press conference Yankee Stadium.

“And just to add on to Kyle’s situations with his staff,” Kelly said. “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 (2006 International Bowl) 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 may need to worry about losing one more coach as coachingsearch.com reported that Diaco could offer Irish defensive line coach Mike Elston the defensive coordinator job at UConn. Diaco hinted during his Thursday press conference that he would look at past relationships to help fill his staff.

“I have a collection of people in my life that are really good people. And they are loyal. And they are trustworthy. And they are teachers. And they are communicators,” Diaco said. “(But) the first order of business is to meet with the staff (at UConn) that showed incredible perseverance and grit that’s already here.”

tkrausz@jg.net

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