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If You Can't Beat 'Em, Hire 'Em

Actually, Notre Dame did beat Georgia Tech in 2006, but it wasn't so much because of Jon Tenuta's defense, which held the Irish to a season-low 14 points and sacked Brady Quinn twice in a 14-10 defensive struggle, a bonanza for ND considering the nine-sack, three-point smackdown Tenuta's blitz-happy charges levied in South Bend to kickstart the most miserable two-and-a-half-month stretch in Irish history last September. Notre Dame had nearly the worst offense of the decade, but it was an impressive enough performance that Charlie Weis wanted him summa that Tenuta: the much sought-after coordinator has agreed to join Notre Dame's staff, according to Rivals, replacing retiring secondary coach Bill Lewis. The story linked there guessed the announcement likely wouldn't be made until late next week, after Signing Day, but when the rumors start a-swirlin', might as well let the cat out of the bag.


I will sack the quarterback with the intensity of my gaze.
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Tenuta is listed as "Assistant Head Coach/Defense" and is unlikely given his reputation to handle only the secondary - he's as good a defensive guru as there is and has been rumored at various points since Chan Gailey and the rest of the Tech staff was canned in late November to be an eminent hire as coordinator at Michigan, LSU and Washington, as well as, I'm sure, South Carolina, Auburn and any other vacant coordinator position in the Western Hemisphere. So while Corwin Brown is still nominally the defensive coordinator, Tenuta is more experienced and more respected, and it will probably work as "co-coordinator" situation until one of them (probably the very upwardly mobile Brown, given his age and Tenuta's allegedly crusty disposition toward recruiting, media and booster relations and other non-football aspects of boss-dom) gets tired of sharing the job or has a better opportunity.

Tenuta immediately changes the M.O. of the Irish defense, which was not very aggressive in Brown's first year, or not successfully aggressive, anyway, finishing 96th with a meager 18 sacks. And given that ten of those sacks came in two games against an overwhelmed, fourth-string walk-on at UCLA and one of the nation's worst offensive lines at Stanford, Tenuta's "Mad Blitzer" rep is an essential addition. Georgia Tech led the nation in sacks last year and has finished in the top 30 in total and scoring defense five years in a row - Tenuta brings the heat from every direction at any time, and eats young quarterbacks alive. Notre Dame hasn't allowed fewer than 23 points per game since Tyrone Willingham's first season, 2002; Tenuta's six defenses at Georgia Tech never allowed 21 per game with far less talent. The Irish get everyone who's anyone back on defense except Tom Zbikowski (who is probably very overrated) and Trevor Laws (who is properly rated as the only remotely disruptive force on the line and will be missed) and should be immediately upgraded by Tenuta and the natural football laws of progression. Against the run and in the pass rush, it would pretty much have to be.