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Al Golden takes job as Notre Dame defensive coordinator

Al Golden left his mark on the Bengals linebacker room. Now he returns to college football.

NFL: Super Bowl LVI-Los Angeles Rams at Cincinnati Bengals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals seemed to have avoided losing lots of their coaching staff — which is typical of a team heading to a Super Bowl. However, they lost one of their best assistant coaches — linebackers coach Al Golden. He is taking the job as Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator, as announced by their head coach Marcus Freeman:

“Al’s defensive background and knowledge of this profession makes him a valuable asset to our program,” Freeman said via a statement. “He is known for getting the absolute best out of his players both on and off the field. Additionally, he will be a great resource for me and others on our staff with his previous experience as a head coach. I am thrilled that he has joined our staff at Notre Dame.”

Prior to Golden’s time in Cincinnati, he had stints with the Detroit Lions as a tight ends coach first — the position he played at Penn State — before moving to linebackers’ coach. He is most well known for being the head coach at Miami University from ‘11 to ‘15. He was also the head coach of Temple before that.

Golden was probably one of the most overqualified assistant coaches on the staff. He had a clear impact in his two seasons with the Bengals. You can look at the growth of Logan Wilson and Germaine Pratt. That isn’t his most impressive feat from his tenure. He had stints with Markus Bailey and guys off the waiver wire and street starting next to him, but the unit never struggled as much as you would expect them to in that situation.

The Bengals currently have three defensive assistants without specified positions as well as an assistant special team’s coach that they could shuffle into that role. We could even see Taylor try and lure a coach from the outside to cover it.

Even though Golden leaves behind quite the shoes to fill, his impact will last on with veterans like Wilson and Pratt for years to come. The way the unit has transformed from the weakest link to a strength is in no small part due to his work. He earned the right to upgrade his title somewhere. It won’t be surprising if we see him return as a head coach sooner or later in college.