Mark Allen, Domer Sports Report
Notre Dame Football
"Verducci replaces John Latina who resigned Wednesday to pursue other opportunities."
The above quote is the "official" word from Notre Dame. But, does anyone really believe the embattled offensive line coach wasn't fired? The coach, after all, was the coach at the helm of the offensive line that gave up an at-the-time record 58 sacks in 2007. Although, the sack number was a definite improvement in 2008 over 2007, the running game was another story. The Irish averaged 3.3 yards per carry and 109.7 yards per game running the ball.
Latina becomes the third Irish assistant coach to "pursue other opportunities". One, of course, was legitimate. Offensive coordinator, Mike Haywood, left Notre Dame to become the head coach at Miami of Ohio. Defensive line coach Jappy Oliver, like Latina, was, most likely, fired.
Not long after rumors circulated that Latina was let go, the Irish announced the hiring of Cleveland Browns offensive assistant coach Frank Verducci.
So, who is Frank Verducci? For one thing, he has experience at both the professional and college level. Most recently, as mentioned, he was an offensive line coach and assistant for the Cleveland Browns.
1980: Colorado State (grad assistant)
1981-83: Maryland (tight ends)
1984: Northern Illinois (running backs/strength and conditioning coach)
1985-86: Iowa (graduate assistant)
1987-88: Northwestern (wide receivers)
1989-98: Iowa (offensive line, recruiting coordinator, running game coordinator)
1999-2001: Cincinnati Bengals ( tight ends, assistant offensive line)
2002: Dallas Cowboys (offensive line)
2004-05: Buffalo Bills (offensive line/tight ends)
2007-08: Cleveland Browns (offensive assistant coach)
Verducci's most impressive college experience was gathered at Iowa, where he coached under Hayden Fry. In his decade there, the running game averaged 171.5 yards per game. During the 1990, 1994 and 1997 seasons, Iowa averaged 224.9, 221 and 217 yards per game, respectively. He had twelve of his offensive linemen make it to the NFL. Six of those were All-Big Ten players.
Not only was the running game successful under Verducci, but he was also very successful as a recruiter. Tom Lemming named him as a top ten recruiter for 1990. Allen Wallace of SuperPrep named him as a top ten recruiter on four occasions (1990-1992 and 1995).
More recently, Verducci has success with the Browns. In 2007, the Browns' offensive ranked 8th in the NFL. In the 2007 and 2008 seasons, running back Jamal Lewis went over the 1000 yard mark for the season.
Verducci, like Charlie Weis, is a native of New Jersey. That should help Notre Dame in recruiting in the Northeast. His wife, Noel, is a Saint Mary's of Indiana graduate.
Will Verducci be an instant impact hire? Can he turn around the offensive line, thereby improving the running game? Stay tuned!
In other news, Charlie Weis has offered Ohio State linebacker's coach Luke Fickell a chance to coach with the Irish. Domer Sports Report will update that story as information comes in.