Notre Dame offensive coordinator Charley Molnar brings much more to the table than a high-powered offensive mind, he is also a high-powered recruiter and the backbone of a strong family that includes eight children.
Entering his 28th year in coaching, all of them on the offensive side of the ball, Molnar's recruiting effectiveness has been felt mostly on the East Coast, primarily Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
In 2006, Molnar joined coach Brian Kelly at Central Michigan where he coached the quarterbacks and wide receivers. His then-freshman quarterback Dan LeFevour passed for over 3,000 yards on 388 attempts. Under Molnar, LeFevour was named MAC Freshman of the Year and was a first-team All-MAC selection after he led the conference in passing yards, passing touchdowns, passing efficiency, completion percentage, total completions and total yards.
While at Cincinnati in 2007, coach Molnar's air assault was a glimpse of things to come, as the Bearcats passed for 3,720 yards and 36 touchdowns. The Bearcats ranked eighth in the country in passing efficiency and averaged 286.2 passing yards per game, good for 20th nationally
When Molnar took over the roles of offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Notre Dame he was facing the dual task of installing a new offensive system and also developing both Dayne Crist and Tommy Rees, neither of whom had recorded a start at the college level.
In Crist's first nine starts he tossed for 2,033 yards and 15 touchdowns. After Crist went down during the first offensive series of the Tulsa game, Rees entered and went 33-of-54 for 334 and four touchdowns and three interceptions.
Under Molnar, Rees set Notre Dame freshman records in touchdown passes (12) and completion percentage (61.0). Rees also ranked in the top five in completions (third, 100), yards, (second, 1,106) and passing efficiency (second, 123.70) by a freshman Notre Dame quarterback.
Charley Molnar's success was evident before he teamed up with Brian Kelly. While at Indiana State University, Molnar coordinated an offense that broke six school passing records, including yardage, completion percentage and touchdowns. Two years earlier while at Western Michigan as quarterbacks coach, Molnar directed the eighth-ranked offense in the nation.
Coach Molnar's learning tree is not limited to quarterbacks; his oldest son, Charley III, is a graduate assistant at the University of Buffalo and should prove to be a name that we will be familiar with in the future.
Notre Dame finished 61st in total offense in 2010. Some may look at that as middle of the pack; others may look at it as a long slide from the No. 8 ranking at the end of the 2009 season. Put into perspective, it was a good start. It has been my own estimation that the offense we saw in 2010 was about 30-35 percent of Coach Kelly and Coach Molnar's playbook. Take into consideration the fact that neither quarterback was totally comfortable with the new system, and the Rees factor—being that when Crist went down, the offense was scaled back even further to help Rees feel comfortable.
Rees' comfort level was apparent in the Sun Bowl. Extra time and extra reps in Molnar's system showed a different Tommy Rees. He simply looked more confident.
When Temple University's head coaching job opened up earlier this year and they came calling on Charley Molnar, he chose to stay in South Bend. I believe that we have only seen the tip of the iceberg with Molnar's offense and that the best is yet to come. It may be here sooner than some people expect.