Notre Dame's Mike Denbrock accepts offensive coordinator job at Cincinnati

Mike Vorel
South Bend Tribune

Notre Dame's rash of recent staff departures continued on Thursday.

Mike Denbrock, the team's associate head coach and wide receivers coach, has accepted the offensive coordinator position at Cincinnati, a source confirmed to the Tribune on Thursday night. He is the fourth Irish assistant coach to exit the program since the start of the 2016 season.

A driving force in the exit was head coach Brian Kelly's decision to take away Denbrock's offensive play-calling duties, a source indicated. Denbrock was Notre Dame's offensive play-caller each of the last two seasons.

Denbrock, 52, started out in coaching as roommates and fellow graduate assistants with Kelly at Grand Valley State in 1986. The two reunited in South Bend in 2010, and Denbrock has juggled a myriad of positions since that time.

In 2010 and 2011, Denbrock coached the Irish tight ends, before shifting to outside wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator in 2012 and 2013. He was the team's offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach in 2014, and has served as the associate head coach and wide receivers coach each of the last two seasons.

Denbrock also coached the Irish tackles and tight ends under Tyrone Willingham from 2002-04.

Now, he joins a growing list of former Notre Dame assistant coaches. Defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder was fired Sept. 25. Tight ends and special teams coach Scott Booker was relieved of his duties earlier this month. A day later, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike Sanford left to become the head coach at Western Kentucky.

It's expected that Notre Dame will also make a change of leadership in the strength and conditioning program as well.

As a reaction to those departures, Kelly has hired two coaches this month — defensive coordinator Mike Elko from Wake Forest and special teams coach Brian Polian, who served in the same role at Notre Dame under Charlie Weis and was most recently the head coach at Nevada.

In Denbrock, Notre Dame also loses a dynamic recruiter.

Notre Dame’s national rankings in rushing offense (28), total offense (27), passing efficiency (23) and scoring offense (34) were all Kelly Era bests in 2015 under Denbrock's supervision. Those numbers were compiled against a schedule that included nine top 43 defenses, three of which ranked in the top 10.

Those rankings regressed in 2016.

Denbrock's departure, which was rumored as early as Tuesday, already has affected the Irish recruiting efforts. Three-star 2017 wide receiver Jordan Pouncey dropped his Notre Dame commitment on Wednesday, leaving the Irish with just one wide receiver commit in the class — three-star prospect Michael Young.

In his 31-year coaching career, Denbrock has operated as both an offensive and defensive coordinator and coached every offensive position.

mvorel@ndinsider.com

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Notre Dame offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock during practice on Wednesday, April 6, 2016. (Tribune Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)