Notre Dame Football: Latest Champs Sports Bowl News and Updates

Connor Killoren@@Connor_KillorenSenior Analyst IDecember 12, 2011

Notre Dame Football: Latest Champs Sports Bowl News and Updates

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    With roughly two weeks between the current moment and Notre Dame's Champs Sports Bowl date with Florida State, it's time to check up on the Fighting Irish.

    There's plenty to be discussed, including coaching changes, a quarterback controversy and a few recruiting bits.

    Follow along for updates on Notre Dame football leading up to the Champs Sports Bowl.

Charley Molnar Is Headed to Massachusetts

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    Notre Dame offensive coordinator Charley Molnar, whose name had been mentioned for a number of head coaching vacancies, has agreed to become the new head coach at the University of Massachusetts.

    It's a sign of the times for the former FCS program, which is set to make the transition to the FBS level of football next season. The Minutemen will be joining the Mid-American Conference, one that Molnar is familiar with after serving on Brian Kelly's staff at Central Michigan during the 2006 season.

    This is the first head coaching job of Molnar's career that began at Lock Haven University as an assistant in 1984.

    Notre Dame fans need not worry, as Molnar will remain with Notre Dame for the Champs Sports Bowl before taking full control at UMass.

Who Will Take over as Offensive Coordinator in 2012?

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    Now that current offensive coordinator Charley Molnar has taken the job at UMass, a new coordinator will need to be named for the 2012 season and beyond.

    A number of candidates have been rumored for the position, as my colleague, David Young, pointed out in an article published last week.

    A number of candidates outside the program are included in his slideshow, but the most likely candidate is already with the Fighting Irish.

    Current offensive line coach and run-game coordinator Ed Warinner is an excellent man for the job. Warinner boasts a plethora of experience, having been the offensive line coach of Air Force's offense that led the nation in rushing for the 2002 season.

    Aside from his time at Air Force, Warinner has also served as offensive line coach at Army and Illinois.

    Yet, it was his three years as offensive coordinator at Kansas that gained Warinner some notoriety in football circles. The Jayhawks spread attack was nearly unstoppable during his three seasons as coordinator.

    As you can see, Ed Warinner would be a smart choice to replace Charley Molnar.

Manti Te'o Will Return for His Senior Season

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    According to sources, Manti Te'o will be returning to Notre Dame for his senior season. That's great news for an Irish defense that is slated to take on the likes of USC, Oklahoma and Michigan next season.

    The news was confirmed late Sunday evening, as Brian Te'o, Manti's father, spoke with a number of media outlets about his son's decision.

    Lisa Horne of FoxSports.com reports that Te'o said the following of his decision: "I feel I'm not done at Notre Dame. I'll be coming back to Notre Dame."

    Te'o was projected as a first-round selection in April's draft, but his stock is certain to rise with another season of experience under his belt.

    There's no doubt that the Hawaiian native will be the first linebacker taken in the 2013 NFL Draft.

Former Head Coach Charlie Weis Has Been Hired by Kansas

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    Former Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis has been named to the same position at the University of Kansas.

    After serving as offensive coordinator for the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs for the 2009 season, Weis was hired by Florida head coach Will Muschamp as his offensive coordinator following the '09 season.

    A rough season for the Gators during the recently completed 2011 regular season wasn't what Weis expected, but impressed officials at Kansas enough for them to inquire about his availability.

    Weis returned to his South Bend roots in his initial days as head coach in Lawrence, having offered South Bend Washington High athletes David Perkins and Gehrig Dieter.

Is Running Backs Coach Tim Hinton Headed to Ohio State?

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    With Urban Meyer being hired as head coach at Ohio State, rumors as to who will be joining his staff have been abounding.

    One name included in the rampant rumors has been current Notre Dame running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Tim Hinton.

    Hinton's brother, Steve, recently spoke with the Lancaster Eagle Gazette about his brother's potential move to Ohio State.

    "It would be a tough decision to stay or to come home, especially because he loves Notre Dame and the atmosphere that's there. As a brother, I would love for him to come home, but I would understand if he stayed at Notre Dame."

    I would not find Hinton moving on to Ohio State a surprise, considering the relationship he has developed throughout the years with Urban Meyer.

    Nothing is for certain, though.

Will Braxston Cave Return for a Fifth Season?

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    After suffering a season-ending mid-foot sprain against Wake Forest on November 5, Braxston Cave is faced with a tough decision on whether or not to return to Notre Dame for a fifth season of eligibility.

    For Cave, it wasn't the first season-ending injury he has suffered. He served as the Irish long snapper during the first game of the 2008 season before going down before the conclusion of the game, resulting in the possibility of a fifth year.

    Cave is set to graduate in the spring and is considered by many to be an NFL-caliber center. However, Cave could certainly use another season to improve his game.

    We'll be hearing a decision from Cave in the weeks leading following the Champs Sports Bowl.

Theo Riddick to Remain at Running Back

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    With the Irish being a man short at the running back position, Theo Riddick has been moved from wide receiver back to his original position.

    Riddick debuted at running back against Stanford, but only accumulated six yards on four carries.

    Despite his lack of production against the Cardinal, Riddick is set to remain at running back for the bowl game, and possibly for his senior season in 2012.

    Brian Kelly has made that clear, saying that Riddick "looks comfortable at running back right now."

The Latest on 2012 QB Prospect Gunner Kiel

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    The state of Indiana wrapped up its high school football season with the state championships in Indianapolis over Thanksgiving weekend.

    Unfortunately for Notre Dame target Gunner Kiel, his season came to an ugly close, a 62-7 loss to Indianapolis Cathedral High School in the southern semi-state game.

    Despite his team's loss, Kiel was awarded the prestigious Mr. Indiana Football Award as the state's best high school football player.

    According to the Indianapolis Star, Kiel is set to announce his college decision in the very near future. Kiel told Star reporter Kyle Neddenriep that he has to make a decision soon, as he will be graduating at the conclusion of the semester.

    Kiel will be deciding between LSU, Vanderbilt and Notre Dame.

Is Dayne Crist Headed to Kansas?

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    According to sources, Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist spent the weekend visiting with the man who recruited him to Notre Dame, current Kansas coach Charlie Weis.

    If Crist were to transfer to Kansas, it would be a match made in heaven. There would be a minimal learning curve for Crist, as he boasts experience in Weis' system.

    The only concern the California native should have is whether or not the Jayhawks offensive line will be able to protect him after two severe knee injuries in as many seasons.

Irish Recruiting Update

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    Notre Dame hosted a number of high profile recruits over the weekend, including four-star athlete Davonte Neal.

    According to Pete Sampson of IrishIllustrated.com, the Irish made quite an impression on the Arizona native.

    Also impressed with his visit to Notre Dame was four-star offensive lineman Joshua Garnett. The 6'5", 295-pound tackle described his visit as "awesome".

    Recruiting rumblings are bound to make some more noise as the United States Army All-America game draws nearer.