Cincinnati Bengals assistant Al Golden has accepted the job to become Notre Dame’s new defensive coordinator, sources told ESPN. He’s agreed to a three-year deal, which sources say should be finalized in the upcoming days.
Golden is a longtime college head coach who gives first-year coach Marcus Freeman a veteran sounding board. Golden spent 10 years as a college head coach from 2006 to 2015, going 59-59 during stints at Temple and Miami, and brings reputation as an impactful recruiter in the Northeast.
The hire completes Marcus Freeman’s on-field coaching staff, which has included seven of 10 new assistants. Golden’s hire represents the only staffer with significant head college coaching experience.
Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick has some familiarity with Golden, as he interviewed him for the Notre Dame head job in 2009 after firing Charlie Weis. The Irish ended up hiring Brian Kelly, who Freeman replaced in December.
Golden, 52, has spent the last six years as an NFL assistant with the Lions and the Bengals, as he transitioned to pro football after being fired in Miami. He coached linebackers for the Bengals and was viewed as a key staff component for the franchise’s Super Bowl run.
Golden has received interest in returning to college the past few seasons, with schools courting him as both a candidate to be a coordinator and head coach. The opportunity at Notre Dame fits Golden, a former Penn State captain from New Jersey who emerged in the profession during stints as an assistant coach at Virginia, Boston College and Penn State.
Golden went 32-25 during his five seasons in Miami, including a run to No. 7 in the country in 2013. Golden’s time resurrecting Temple is remembered much more fondly in college football, as he pulled off one of the great turnarounds in the modern era of the sport.
When Golden took over at Temple, the school was an independent after being kicked out of the Big East. The Owls ended up in MAC, where they went 17-8 his final two years, and he emerged as one of the country’s most respected coaches.
Golden’s staff at Temple included both Carolina coach Matt Rhule and Ohio State coach Ryan Day, and his tenure set the foundation for both Steve Addazio and Rhule to thrive as head coaches there. Golden’s work led to his induction in Temple’s Hall of Fame.