Notre Dame hires Brian Polian as Special Teams Coordinator

Nevada head coach Brian Polian on the sidelines during the San Diego State and Nevada NCAA college football game against Nevada on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016 in Reno, Nev. (AP Photo/Tom R. Smedes)

It’s official. The University of Notre Dame has hired Brian Polian as special teams coordinator.

Polian previously served in the role under former head football coach Charlie Weis from 2005 to 2009.

After leaving the Fighting Irish, he served as special teams coach at Stanford and Texas A&M. He spent the past four years as head coach at Nevada.

Below is the news release from the University of Notre Dame regarding Polian’s hiring:

NOTRE DAME, Indiana – Former University of Notre Dame assistant coach Brian Polian, who spent the last four years as the head coach at Nevada, has been named Fighting Irish special teams coordinator.

“I’m thrilled about the opportunity to return to Notre Dame,” said Polian. “This is a very special University and football program. I want to thank coach Kelly and Jack Swarbrick for the opportunity to re-join the Fighting Irish family. Laura and I are looking forward to coming back to this wonderful community. I’m excited to go to work, get to know the terrific student-athletes and prepare for a great 2017 season.”

“Brian not only brings a successful history of coaching special teams, but he’s also considered one of the nation’s top recruiters,” said head coach Brian Kelly. “He simply understands Notre Dame, what it’s about, and the type of student-athlete that we need to succeed at the highest level. I’m extremely excited to have Brian join this program, and our players will benefit from his mentorship, passion, energy and enthusiasm — both on and off the field.”

Polian, who also coordinated special teams at Stanford and Texas A&M, previously spent five years on the Notre Dame sidelines (2005-09). In addition to coordinating Irish special teams, Polian coached both defensive backs and linebackers.

During his tenure at Notre Dame, Polian earned a number of honors as one of the top recruiters in the country and was a nominee for the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Assistant Coach of the Year in 2008. His special teams units set a number of school records and the Irish went to a pair of BCS bowl games.

In 2008, Polian guided the Notre Dame kickoff return defense to a nation leading 16.47 yards per return — even more impressive when you consider the figure came on 59 kickoff return attempts. In fact, only one FBS school since 2003 has posted a better kickoff return defense with at least 59 kickoff return attempts.

Polian owns an impressive football pedigree that also includes coaching stops at Texas A&M, Stanford, UCF, Buffalo, Baylor and Michigan State as part of a 21-year career.

In his four years as head coach at Nevada, Polian led the Wolf Pack to consecutive bowl games in 2014 and 2015, including a victory in the inaugural ‘15 NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl — Nevada’s fifth bowl win in school history. He guided Nevada to 22 wins, 26 individual All-Mountain West honors and unprecedented academic honors.

Polian helped guide Nevada to 41 Academic All-MW honors in his tenure (2016 honors have yet to be announced), two National Football Foundation (NFF) Hampshire Honor Society members and a NFF National Scholar-Athlete, which is the most prestigious scholar-athlete award in college football. The Wolf Pack, which had a program-record 21 student-athletes earn 2015 Academic All-Mountain West (MW) honors, also recorded a program-best combined GPA of 3.05 in the 2015 spring semester.

Nevada posted a 7-6 overall record with a 4-4 mark in Mountain West play in 2015, marking consecutive seasons Polian led the Wolf Pack to a winning record. Nevada used a lethal ground-and-pound offense in ‘15, as James Butler and Don Jackson each eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing. The Wolf Pack were one of just three teams in the nation with a pair of 1,000-yard rushers, while Nevada ranked 25th in FBS in rushing (210.6 rushing yards per game). On defense, the Wolf Pack lowered their points allowed per game average for the second straight year. Ian Seau earned first team All-MW honors, was named MVP of the Arizona Bowl and led the conference with 10 sacks. Polian’s decision to play true freshman DB Dameon Baber also paid dividends, as Baber ranked seventh in the nation with six interceptions and earned second team All-MW accolades.

In 2014, Polian turned the tide from year one to year two of his tenure as the program reached new heights on and off the field. Nevada registered a 7-6 record and returned to a bowl game, playing in the 2014 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. The Wolf Pack defeated Pac-12 foe Washington State, scored impressive road wins at BYU, Hawaii and San Jose State, and capped the regular season with a dominating win at UNLV.

Polian also helped nine student-athletes earn 2014 All-Mountain West honors, including Cody Fajardo, who became just the second player in NCAA history to pass for 9,000 yards and rush for 3,000 yards in a career.

In June of 2015, Polian was selected to represent the Mountain West Conference on the inaugural College Football Officiating Competition Committee. The committee, which consists of 12 members from across the nation, is influential in the discussion and implementation of the rules of college football.

Polian came to Nevada after a year as the special teams coordinator and tight ends coach at Texas A&M, which capped an 11-2 season in 2012 with a win over Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl and an historic Heisman Trophy for then-freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel.

Polian has coached on both sides of the ball and earned a reputation as one of the top recruiters in the nation in previous coaching roles at Stanford (2010-11), UCF (2004) and Buffalo (2001-03).

Polian’s two-year run with Stanford was marked by a pair of BCS bowl appearances and two of the top recruiting classes in school history. He served as the special teams coordinator and recruiting coordinator while also coaching the safeties with the Cardinal.

Polian spent one season at UCF as the recruiting coordinator and running backs coach, and spearheaded recruiting classes that led to the Knights’ bowl appearance in 2005. Prior to UCF, he coordinated special teams and coached running backs at the University at Buffalo for three seasons after a previous tenure (1998) with the Bulls. Polian also worked as a graduate assistant for Nick Saban at Michigan State (1997) and then spent two seasons as a graduate assistant at Baylor (1999-2000).

A native of The Bronx, New York, Polian graduated from at St. Francis High School outside of Buffalo. He went on to play linebacker at John Carroll University from 1993-96. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from John Carroll in 1997 and received his master’s in education from Baylor in 2000.

Polian comes from a notable football family. His father, Bill, was the general manager and architect of the Super Bowl teams of the Buffalo Bills in the 1990s and later, as the team’s president, oversaw the Indianapolis Colts’ two Super Bowl appearances and their championship in 2006. In August of 2015, Bill Polian’s career culminated with his enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Polian’s two brothers, Chris and Dennis, both work in the NFL.

Polian and his wife, Laura, have a son, Aidan, and a daughter, Charlotte.

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