Coming off his program's second College Football Playoffs appearance in three years and seeing star pupil Clark Lea take over at Vanderbilt, Brian Kelly is continuing to tweak his Notre Dame staff.
After landing this cycle's most-coveted defensive coordinator, Marcus Freeman, as Lea's replacement in an whirlwind, early-January move, Kelly has added on enhanced roles for veteran assistant coaches Mike Elston and Brian Polian.
Elston now is the Fighting Irish's recruiting coordinator and defensive run game coordinator, in addition to his role as defensive line coach.
Polian, previously the school's recruiting coordinator, now is associate head coach and special teams coordinator.
“These were two very beneficial moves as we continue to develop our staff,” Kelly sad in a statement released by Notre Dame. “As special teams coordinator, Brian Polian engages with a lot of the team on a regular basis and in implementing game day decisions. He is essential in helping us understand NCAA legislation, and in building relationships within and beyond our program.
“Likewise, Mike Elston has done a tremendous job in recruiting and is a natural fit in that role. He has had success designing and organizing our recruiting efforts, and we look forward to him leading us there. Additionally, his expertise with the defensive line can assist us in our run game preparation and coordination.”
Elston has coached alongside Kelly for nearly two decades at the Football Bowls Subdivision level, from stops at Central Michigan, Cincinnati and Notre Dame. A former player at Michigan, Elston also emerged this offseason as a candidate for the defensive coordinator position not only with the Irish but also at Purdue.
Polian, who just authored the book, “Coaching and Teaching Generation Z: Honor the Relationships,” is the former head coach at Nevada. He's entering his fifth season on Kelly's Notre Dame staff after spending five years as an Irish assistant prior to Kelly's arrival from 2005-09.
Notre Dame's release did not specify if the Elston and Polian promotions also included raises.
The Irish landed Freeman to run their defense last month after the Broyles Award finalist had narrowed down his options to LSU and Notre Dame. Freeman, per sources with knowledge of negotiations, was given a three-year deal worth in excess of $1.2 million per season.