While Notre Dame is preparing for its season finale against Stanford this weekend, the rumor mill is already running at full speed with speculation regarding the eventual successor to Charlie Weis. Weis is still the Irish head coach for at least the next 24 hours, but that hasn’t stopped the rumors from flying.
Here’s a quick recap of the rumors from the past several days regarding the Notre Dame head coaching position.
- Bob Stoops name has popped up more than once over the last few weeks. Stoops came up most recently in Eric Hansen’s column in Thursday’s South Bend Tribune. According to Hansen, Stoops sits at the top of Notre Dame’s wish list. Stoops would be a monumental hire for the Irish and would certainly earn athletic director Jack Swarbrick an early contract extension… on second thought, those early extensions haven’t worked out for Notre Dame in the past.
- Cincinnati head coach Brian Kelly’s name has been on the radar of Notre Dame fans since last year when rumors swirled that Weis was on his way out with Kelly on his way in. Before the Bearcats win over Illinois on Friday, ABC’s Bob Griese reported that Kelly told him a decision regarding Notre Dame would be made within the next 7-10 days. This obviously suggests that Kelly is on Notre Dame’s radar, but both Kelly and Griese distanced themselves from that statement after the game. For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, Kelly has replaced 10 starters on defense this year and still has Cincinnati undefeated headed into their season finale against Pitt.
- Hansen also floated the names Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp and TCU head coach Gary Patterson in his Thursday column. Patterson, and his nasty TCU defenses certainly are intriguing, but if Notre Dame has to settle for any coordinator this time around we could be in the same position in another couple years. If Bob Davie and Charlie Weis have taught us anything, it’s that head coaching experience at the college level is essential for success at Notre Dame.
- CBS’s Spencer Tillman said on Friday that former Baltimore Ravens head coach Brian Billick is a viable candidate for Notre Dame, but I just can’t see that being even remotely possible. Billick is another NFL guy who doesn’t exactly have the personality that suggests he’d be a great college coach.
- Some other names who have popped up include some of the usual suspects – Urban Meyer and Jon Gruden. Meyer’s been asked a couple times about the potential opening though and said that he’ll be the head coach at Florida as long as they’ll have him. Gruden’s recently signed ESPN Monday Night Football extension also suggests that he won’t be coaching in South Bend next year.
Of all of the rumors out there right now, the Stoops one seems to be picking up some steam and is the most intriguing to be me. Stoops was asked about the Notre Dame position earlier this week by The Sporting News, but wouldn’t comment on it since Notre Dame still has a coach. Not exactly a denial. He had an opportunity to completely shoot down the notion of him leaving for Notre Dame and he chose not to.
Brian Kelly’s name will be brought up the most since he is out of central casting for the Notre Dame head coaching position with a last night like his. He has also been very successful everywhere he’s went and has Cincinnati on the cusp of back to back BCS bowl games. Before you dismiss Kelly’s success at Cincinnati because of the “weak” Big East, remember that he is coaching at freaking CINCINNATI. The school had one 10 win season in 60 years before Kelly got there. Kelly, meanwhile, has won 10 or more games in each of the last three seasons.
Other names are bound to pop up over the next few days. Some will make sense and many, like Billick, will not. We’ll do our best to keep everyone up to date with daily recaps of rumors here on UHND if/when a change is announced.