Things didn’t get any clearer on the Notre Dame coaching front on Wednesday. After reports on Tuesday that a deal with Brian Kelly was on the verge of being completed, reports of potential snags surfaced on Wednesday while things heated up on other candidates.
Tuesday’s reports made it seem as though a deal was almost complete between Notre Dame and Kelly. Wednesday, however, speculation was that contract negotiations hit some snags although to this point no one seems to know exactly what those snags are.
Just where talks between Notre Dame and Kelly stand no one really knows. What we do know for sure is that a decision on/from Kelly should come before tomorrow evening when Cincinnati holds its annual football banquet. It’s been reported that Kelly wants to have a decision made one way or another before the banquet.
The two schools of thought right now are that either Kelly and Notre Dame have truly hit snags in negotiations regarding what Kelly thinks he needs to be successful at Notre Dame or that Wednesdays developments are part of the plan to allow Kelly to tell his players in person that he is leaving so they don’t read about it on the internet or hear about it on TV.
What the actual situation is, however, people don’t seem to know for sure.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Kelly is still the favorite for the job, but UConn’s Randy Edsall has heated up as a fallback candidate for Notre Dame. Edsall’s candidacy picked up a lot of steam Wednesday with several media outlets reporting that Edsall is a serious candidate for the job.
To make things crazier, the idea of a “mystery candidate” was also floated by the Chicago Sun Times’s Neil Hayes on Wednesday. The mystery candidate apparently fits the original criteria laid out by Swarbrick more closely than it’s believed Kelly would. No names have been attached to this mystery candidate at this point though.
What looked like a process that was in its final stages on Wednesday could be a process that’s anywhere from the end to back to the beginning. No one truly knows at this point except Jack Swarbrick.
If Notre Dame misses out on Kelly, there is a considerable drop off to the next set of candidates that the Irish would likely look at. Outside of getting one of the “Big 3” – Saban, Meyer, Stoops – there isn’t a hire Notre Dame could make outside of maybe a Jon Gruden that would garner as much positive press and momentum for the program than Kelly. He is the coach of the undefeated, 3rd ranked team in the country that was one second away from playing for the national championship.
While hiring would definitely carry with it some risks such as inexperience recruiting nationally and a lack of defensive background, it would also bring a lot of momentum to the program. Kelly is the hottest name on the coaching market right now and the momentum that would come with bringing him in could carry over to the recruiting field as Notre Dame closes out this class.
In other news Wednesday, Kelly was named the Big East Coach of the Year for the third consecutive year – the first time a coach has ever received the honor three years in a row. Two other Big East coaches – former Miami coach Dennis Erickson and current Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer – won the award three times but neither did so in consecutive years.
Thursday should bring some more clarity to the Notre Dame coaching search. With Cincy’s banquet Thursday night, Kelly will likely announce his intentions for next year to his players then. If he is headed to Notre Dame and lets his players know at the banquet, news will very likely leak shortly after the banquet concludes.
If Notre Dame and Kelly can’t work out a deal beforehand and he stays at Cincinnati, it will also come out tomorrow and would be big news.
Stay tuned as the Notre Dame soap opera, er, coaching search continues.