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Report: Notre Dame to hire QB coach Gino Guidugli, formerly of Wisconsin and Cincinnati

Marcus Freeman has made another hire from his past, reportedly bringing Gino Guidugli onto the Notre Dame coaching staff as the quarterbacks coach. Guidugli spent the last six years at Cincinnati before spending the last two months at Wisconsin after former Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell brought some of his old staff to Madison.

ESPN’s Pete Thamel first reported on Wednesday the Irish intention to hire Guidugli.

He called plays at Cincinnati the last two seasons, leading an offense that not only beat Notre Dame in South Bend in 2021 but also reached the Playoff and then finished third in the AAC in 2022.

Perhaps most notably, Guidugli was the quarterbacks coach for the last four of the five years of Desmond Ridder’s collegiate career, developing the former two-star recruit into a third-round NFL draft pick and four-game NFL starter in his rookie season.

Guidugli also has extensive Midwest recruiting experience, as evidenced by spending four years as the recruiting coordinator at Central Michigan. With Guidugli, three of Freeman’s hires in the last two winters have featured résumés with that a recruiting coordinator bullet point on them, joining special teams coordinator Brian Mason and current tight ends coach Gerad Parker. None of them officially have that title in South Bend, a feature of expanded support staffs, but they all understand the importance of recruiting to building a consistent Playoff contender.

Guidugli’s hire comes after a tumultuous week for Freeman’s hiring process. After former offensive coordinator Tommy Rees left for Alabama earlier this month and former offensive line coach Harry Hiestand retired on Sunday, it appeared Notre Dame was closing in on hiring Utah offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig.

Something or other went awry in that process and the handling of Ludwig’s hefty buyout from Utah. The public mockery of those events will influence the optics of any subsequent offensive coordinator hire, fairly or unfairly.

That said, hiring a quarterbacks coach narrows the offensive coordinator search to two distinct possibilities: Either Notre Dame will find an offensive line coach to work as the offensive coordinator or it will find an internal candidate for offensive coordinator and then proceed to find an offensive line coach.

Parker spent the 2020 and 2021 seasons as West Virignia’s co-offensive coordinator, making him the most likely internal candidate. But more thoroughly, Parker and Mountaineers quarterbacks coach Graham Harrell were working under head coach Neal Brown, a longtime offensive coach who still controlled that offense up until the 2022 season.

Freeman has made play-calling experience a priority in his offensive coordinator search, a touch ahead of schematic flexibility and quarterback development. By bringing in Guidugli, he may have solved the play-calling riddle as it pertains to elevating Parker, and Ridder’s career arc alone serves as a testament to Guidugli’s ability to develop a quarterback.

A quarterback in his playing career, Guidugli set a pile of career records at Cincinnati from 2001 to 2004. He then spent a season with the Tennessee Titans before knocking around the Canadian Football League and multiple iterations of the Arena Football League for a few years.

Per a bio page still up on the Cincinnati athletic department webpage, Guidugli is pronounced guh-DOO-lee.

2010-12: Central Michigan — graduate assistant2013-16: Central Michigan — running backs coach and recruiting coordinator2017: Cincinnati — running backs coach2018-19: Cincinnati — quarterbacks coach2020-21: Cincinnati — quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator2022: Cincinnati — quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator

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