Considering that Notre Dame, like so many universities, treats its coaches like royalty, I can see how reigns comes to mind.
The word we were after, though, was reins, as in handed him the reins, a phrase that means to hand over control.
Like the idioms rein in, give (someone) free rein, draw in the reins and keep a tight rein on, it originally referred to the handling of horses before it worked its way into common usage over the centuries.
It’s important to remember that equine connection, though, especially in today’s car-obsessed culture.
Here’s one way to think about it: Keep the “g” in reign when referring to kings and the like.
Of course, we haven’t even talked about rain, which can easily muddy the picture even more: The rain in Spain may stay mainly on the plain, but the king of Spain reigns over the state even as the elected government holds the reins of power.
Got that, Eliza?