Notre Dame Coaching Search Still Unclear

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.

Brian Kelly is still considered the leader for the Notre Dame head coaching position, but reports surfaced Wednesday that a deal might not be as close as most felt. (Photo - Icon SMI)

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.

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  1. Jeremy M. 8 years ago

    Told you. 🙂

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  2. Senior 8 years ago

    Deal is done, now I can sleep at night knowing things are going to get better.

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  3. fxm 8 years ago

    Media barred from Cincy banquet

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    1. Joe 8 years ago

      Can’t bar twittering!

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  4. c 8 years ago

    I would take Tuberville over Edsall

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    1. fxm 8 years ago

      Don’t be too tough on the guy who coaches at a school where football is a distant third behind girls basketball.

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      1. C-Dog 8 years ago

        Just curious fxn, you aren’t an arm chair tubby criticizing the doers in life are you?

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    2. C-Dog 8 years ago

      I like them both. Different characters. But it looks like Kelly. And little old fxm, will eat those words. Anyone who really knows ND knows ND competes and excels at everything. EVERYTHING.

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  5. Joe 8 years ago

    Hopefully Chris Petersen from Boise State is the mystery coach.

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  6. c 8 years ago

    Got a little inside scoop on this, don’t want to give out too much info, but if it doesn’t happen by Friday, it won’t happen

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  7. c 8 years ago

    He had solid D at Gvsu

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  8. somefan 8 years ago

    No Kelly! watching notre dame with him as coach will be the same as weis. An offense that is good, but not good enough to make up for the horrible defense!

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    1. palk21 8 years ago

      Are being ignorant or do you really not notice a good thing when it hits you in the face?

      Everyone has been plastering Kelly’s credentials all over this site and the fact of the matter is…he’s a proven winner at several different levels and it’s all been at the COLLEGIATE level. His record is 171-52-2. If that doesn’t speak volumes, I’m not sure what will make you see that Kelly is the right guy. Kelly DOES care about defense, but he lost TEN, count ’em, TEN players on defense last year and he still had a better defense than ND this year. Charlie in FIVE years didn’t understand that defense is important.

      Here some more stats for everyone…

      Number of games allowing 20 pts or less in last 2 seasons (’08 & ’09):
      Cincinnati= 16
      Notre Dame= 6

      Number of games scoring 28 pts or more in last 2 seasons (’08 & ’09)
      Cincinnati= 18
      Notre Dame= 13

      So..YEAH, while Brian Kelly’s Offense puts up points (more than Notre Dame in the past 2 years), Brian Kelly also understands Defense and it WILL NOT be another Charlie Weis leading the Fighting Irish.

      Let me know how those stats sit with you. I’m all about Kelly. THE GUY IS A WINNER!! I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face…171-52-2 doesn’t happen by accident. THE GUY IS A WINNER!!

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  9. Irish Thunder 8 years ago

    For what it is worth. I hope ND hires the best coach for ND. What does that mean? It means we hire:
    -A great coach (recruiter and x and o’s)
    -A leader of high character. Lets not forget what makes this school special. High character and high standards. I would be careful with the pursuit of being Florida/USC/Texas. I think this school can be successful without relinquishing our soul.
    We need to find the football version of Coach K at Duke. We want to be a special place that keeps doing it “the right way.” I hope Brian Kelly is that type of guy and is not a suitcase, climbing the corporate ladder type? We need a guy in here that understands how special ND is.

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  10. DarbyOGill 8 years ago

    Got an inside scoop on this, the deal is not a done deal for Kelly, the deadline is Friday, If he’s not coach by Friday, he won’t be.

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  11. Evan 8 years ago

    Brian Kelly is the guy… we wont know until tomorrow…. It would’nt make sense to announce it until after the Cincy banquet….


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  12. IrishRed 8 years ago

    If/When it is announced that we have Brian Kelly, I will scream as loudly and giddily as a tween at a Jonas Brothers concert. They might as well walk him out at the press conference with a big red bow on him. Merry Christmas to us.

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    1. bleednd82 8 years ago

      LoL you wanna see a grown man in a red bow.

      I get the excitement aspect though!

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      1. IrishRed 8 years ago

        Well I am a girl, if that makes it any less creepy.

        No wait, it doesn’t.

        It will just be so exciting to finally have some good news as a ND fan!

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  13. Chris 8 years ago

    It IS clear Kelly is the guy – just like Meyer was after Willingham. The administration simply just needed to go and get him and not take no for an answer. They failed. The similarity currently is scary. Kelly is the best choice period. Go and get him. The delay here is something more than just Kelly wanting to tell his players first. For Kelly, it’s a career move. You dont let protocol get in the way here. The bigger issue would seem to me is what to do come time for coaching the bowl game which isnt even being discussed here. Somehow delaying the announcement if there is one for fear of hurting players feelings isn’t adding up. My feeling is Swarbrick is screwing this up big time.

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    1. fxm 8 years ago

      The amazing thing is, if you look at Bama and Texas, success pays for itself. You win, you make a ton of $$$. Pay the guy, $3 mil with incentives to get as high as the big cats.

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  14. palk21 8 years ago

    I think it’s clear that Kelly is the guy and if Swarbrick doesn’t see this and Kelly is not named the head coach by the end of the week we should have reason to worry. Kelly has proven himself at every school he’s coached and this is a HUGE opportunity for both Brian Kelly and the University of Notre Dame.

    Notre Dame has an opportunity to hire a proven coach who can win and (I believe) bring this program back to the top, where they should be.

    Brian Kelly has the opportunity to coach at NOTRE DAME. And when he’s successful here (as he’s been everywhere else) he will be the most loved coach in all of college football because we all know there are more Notre Dame fans in this country than any other school.

    It’s obviously a win-win situation and it needs to be finalized so we can all get giddy about the future of Notre Dame football.

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  15. BH 8 years ago

    My vote is for Brian Kelly for next ND coach. My son played for him at Grand Valley and he will win, or you will lose your life. Great guy, we loved him.

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  16. JC 8 years ago

    Well its simple, get out the check book and start adding zeros, then its over. The number of zeros will determine which tier coach is coming to ND.
    All this dialectic discussion is great, but in the end, its all about the money.

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  17. JRM 8 years ago

    Edsall has not proven himself. We better get Kelly or we will be Notre Shame as far as football is concerned. I am sick and tired of mediocrity and the thought of waiting 5 more years (2014) for the right coach to start putting his pieces together to see if things work by 2017 is too much to take.

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  18. DeltaIrish 8 years ago

    i hope to God the “mystery candidate” isnt Tuberville. The guy burst on the scene with decent teams and pledges of loyalty to Ole Miss only to sneak out in the night to Auburn. At Auburn he had some sucess but failed to lock down the best talent in the state (even when Bama hadnt hired Saban yet), was under constant NCAA investigation and never reached the potential of the team he had. They tried to sneak Petrino in and Tuberville got pissed. Last ditch was to bring in a spread offense guy (Franklin?) who lasted like 6 games before fired. Tuberville cut loose for Gene Freakin Chizik.

    Please God not Tuberville.

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  19. Shazamrock 8 years ago

    I don’t really know that much about Edsall. His team lost 5 games this year by a combined total of 15 points. Kelly won all of his. Kelly seems to be able to get his team to win the close ones. Something CW nor Edsall could not do.
    Comming close is only good in Horse shoes, and atom bombs. Give me the guy who can win the ones he should as well as the close ones.

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  20. bleednd82 8 years ago

    It has to be Kelly. I feel he is our guy. WTF is Jack Swarbrick doing? He payed 18 mill for Chuck to get out but has not inked Kelly with lots of $$$$$ to get in?

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    1. fxm 8 years ago

      Sadly, I would bet anything he is trying to pay Kelly less than CW. These guys have been idiots for 20 years, why change now.

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    2. C-Dog 8 years ago

      BTW – ND may not have to pay the so called $18Mil if Weis takes another job.

      Why do you think Willingham is laying low.

      ND may retain a good chunk of that money, since Weis most defiinitely will be coaching soon.

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  21. Chris 8 years ago

    Pass on the Ferrari and hire an Edsall aka Hudson Hornet. Not good Irish fans not good. Kelly or bust – it appears Swarbrick may doing his best to screw this up here…. I fear Lou for AD may be the rallying cry after everything is said and done here on the coaching decision.

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    1. Joe 8 years ago

      The Ferrari was Urban Meyer, and that car is long gone…

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      1. Chris 8 years ago

        Joe – Currently speaking Kelly is the Ferrari – Meyer was never in the running…come on now.

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      2. Joe 8 years ago

        So if Kelly falls through I guess Edsall steps in as ND’s Ferrari, and if Edsall falls through Skip Holtz becomes the Ferrari, and if Skip Holtz falls through…

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  22. C-Dog 8 years ago

    I partially agree that ND needs to get something done soon. The sharks from the above mentioned programs will start honing in. And now that Bob Ianello is gone, we have a problem.
    but the hour by hour guessing by the media of the processd is killing it. These things take some time and must be done in private. That’s hard to do when these sports casters take time out from their Tim Tebow gay love, to analyze the sewage coming out of Brian Kelly’s septic system to blog us on whether that means anything.
    Notre Dame can do well with several guys. Edsall, Kelly, I hear Tuberville has a specific plan and wish, or even a few other interested guys. Football isn’t rocket science, just a lot of ego, hard work, and a few brains. ND just needs to find time to talk in private to candidates to see who aligns with working philosophies, the school’s standards, and who is committed to winning the Notre Dame way.

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    1. Joe 8 years ago

      I agree. Nice job.

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    2. B Ross 8 years ago

      so true, well said.

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  23. Joe 8 years ago

    Edsall would be a fine choice. As far as I’m concerned, after Meyer, who would be the home run hire, and Stoops second, the choices are not that different. Like Kelly, Edsall has also done well with limited talent. That being said, I still think it’ll be Kelly. Hard to believe he would stay at Cincinnati over Notre Dame.

    ND’s failure to land Urban Meyer as the head coach has had serious repurcussions for this program. After reading the SI article on Meyer this week, I’m even more pissed off that we didn’t get him. ND should have done everything possible to hire this guy. Oh well, it’s all in the past now.

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  24. somefan 8 years ago

    This morning, Brian Billick said on the radio that if any college job were to pull him back into coach that ND would be it! He was an assistant coach at stanford before going to the NFL. Spread the word…HIRE BILLICK!

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  25. DublinOHIrish 8 years ago

    I really don’t think Tenuta came to ND and magically lost his defensive knowledge. CW’s combination of Tenuta and Brown caused problems and seemed like they were never on the same page. Outside of Teo, Fleming and McCarthy we had limited defensive talent. I would love to see Tenuta back next year! Kelly’s situation this year was replacing 10 starters and a new d-coordinator! That’s a legit excuse in my book. Cincy still ended up 48th in total defense compared to our 87th.

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    1. B Ross 8 years ago

      yeah, I would love to see him back as well and I think your right on the dynamics of tenuta and Brown. I hope we retain him.

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      1. JDH 8 years ago

        Maybe you guys are right with your “tenuta and brown bad combo’ theory. I’ve always thought of Tenuta as being a total hot mess and have wanted him GONE.

        But hey, I could be wrong…

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      2. DocBinge79 8 years ago

        It was the problem (Brown / Tenuta). Corwin recruited a certain direction and that got turned upside down, hence the lack of beef up front and lots of linebackers. If we get Kelly, he was experimenting on defense in Cincy anyway, so perhaps Brown (a great recruiter) can be salvaged, Bryant Young also stays on as a graduate assistant, and we have some great players committed for the line to help bulk that back up.

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  26. B Ross 8 years ago

    If Kelly comes to ND, just throwing this out thier, would you keep Tenuta on as the Def Cordinator? I know the Def was not very good, but besides Teo, I can’t remember any studs that we focused on over the last couple of years. It just felt like CW and Johnnie didn’t see things the same way,but we all know who has teh final say. Kelly’s team this year has given up some points as well. We have seen what his defense does when when gets some solid recruits. Whatcha you guys think?

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  27. stamina 8 years ago

    I agree with DublinOHIrish. I have felt all along that these “leaks” were subterfuge to keep the focus away from Kelly so he could concentrate on the Pitt game. Now I think these leaks are simply a strategy to give him space to talk to his team. By mystery candidate I’m assuming they mean Tubberville (sp?)?

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  28. Jeremy M. 8 years ago


    Freak out if there’s no announcement tomorrow.

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  29. JDH 8 years ago

    “Edsall is NOT acceptable! If you think otherwise, I don’t want to cheer for the same team as you do.”
    Well, I’ve been pulling for Kelly ever since Weis & Co. started dismantling the 2009 season. So does that mean I can root for ND with you?
    My point is that is kind of an arrogant statement- don’t you think?

    Understand- I agree w/ your comments about Edsall. I don’t want him near ND either. But we often disagree on this site and a particular position doesn’t make one fan “better” than another. Just sayin’…

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    1. DublinOHIrish 8 years ago

      JDH – thanks for the reply.

      My point is clearly that if any ND fan accepts Edsall as our new head coach, they are accepting mediocrity and I don’t want to be a part of that anymore. I’m not alumni, just a live-long ND fan in Ohio that is very passionate about the football program. It sounds like you have your head and heart in the right place!

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      1. JDH 8 years ago

        Ah ha! Now that makes total sense Dublin. You and I are in agreement again. Don’t worry, I often look at something I wrote (or said) and think, “I should / should not have added _____ to better explain myself.” 🙂

        I am originally from Cincy and I’ve spent some very good times in Dublin, OH. A very cool place indeed…

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  30. Chris 8 years ago

    I feared this would happen w/ an attorney calling the shots…..not good. The way Lou has been calling things for the Irish lately and saying Kelly is in as coach is now concerning me a heck of a lot more too. If we miss Kelly – this program is toast for another sevaeral years…

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  31. DublinOHIrish 8 years ago

    I’m going on the record to say I believe Edsall is a being used as a decoy to push Kelly to take the job and also give a story for everyone in the meantime before Kelly has the Cincy football banquet. My gut says it will happen with Kelly.

    IF, and I mean IF we hire Randy Edsall as our head coach, this may be the end of my support for Notre Dame. Other than beating us at home on Senior Day (not saying much), what else has he done?? To me, Edsall is another Bob Davie. Nice looking guy, smooth-talker and well liked with players but no substance beyond that. We have one more shot to get the right coach to turn this around before we really do fall off the map for good. Edsall is NOT acceptable! If you think otherwise, I don’t want to cheer for the same team as you do.

    GO IRISH!!

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    1. Senior 8 years ago

      If you are willing to shift colors, act like a baby and take your ball and go home IF, and I mean IF you do not get your coach of choice, then my friend you are not a true Irish fan anyway. Perhaps you should jump on the next fast moving bandwagon now, I hear Miami is up and coming!

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  32. Fergnation 8 years ago

    Kelly has won everywhere he has coached. I wasn’t too high on him until I saw what his record has been at each school he has coached. Two Nat. Champs in div. two. Turned Central Michigan around in three seasons and then to see what he has done at Cincy is remarkable. He is the next big name and thankfully it will be here at ND.

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  33. Jeremy M. 8 years ago

    We need to wait for a day. The Cincinnati banquet is tonight and Kelly doesn’t want to announce before that.

    If he isn’t in the fold by tomorrow or Saturday, I’ll worry.

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  34. NY Irish 8 years ago

    Can’t believe the full court press is not on for Gruden. He would make a great coach for us and
    bring in some needed intensity.

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  35. Shazamrock 8 years ago

    It’s time to pull the trigger on a new head coach. Ianello just left to take the Akron job.(congradulations Rob!) He was our recuiting coordinator. He did a fine job of following through in CW’s absents. But wait any longer and the vultures from Florida, USC, and Michigan our going to pick our class clean. Louisville got their deal done by locking up Florida’s D-Coordinator (and former Irish coach) Charlie Strong.
    They seemed to have known for a while who they wanted, and got it done. Swarbrick put CW on a one year notice. Certainly he must of had a short list of coaching talent and a continginency plan if CW and the team started to waiver.
    If Monday morning rolls around and we still don’t have a head coach we are in trouble. Then I will be questioning whether Mr. Jack Swarbrick is the right man. Are you paying attention Jack?

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  36. IrishChan 8 years ago

    By now we can count out the “Big Three,” they are not going to leave their programs. I honestly can’t remember the last time a Tressle, Carr, Myer, Stoops left their programs for a program that needs rebuilt.

    Kelly however, is a guy who has built himself a great program in Cinci who needs to step up to the next level of college coaching. So, it would make sense for him to take the ND job.

    A little bit of me is still worried that Kelly will stay in Cinci, and use all of this press to get a larger contract out of Cinci. Let’s hope that’s not the case.

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  37. Senior 8 years ago

    The 1st call that should have been made was to Jon Gruden to test his conviction to broadcasting/NFL. After giving him the pitch, hang-up, and let him consider the options.

    Immediately call Brian Kelly, and see what he is doing later this month and ask if he had a few moments to discuss a change of venue and pay raise. Impress upon him that to take his place among college football’s greatest coaches, then he has to be great at a major university.

    Once that call was concluded, give Randy Edsall a call and let him know how impressed you are with his work at UCONN and ask if he might be interested in recruiting top prep athletes into his program. Remind him of the success that he has had with inspiring mid-level talent to overachieve, just imagine what he could do with 3 to 4 blue chippers per year. Impress upon him that his coaching ability is under recognized because of the raw talent afforded to him in Storrs.

    Then call Skip Holtz and ask if he is ready to step off of daddies coat tails and truly make a name for himself in college football.

    Once all of the calls have been made, cut a deal with the one that wants the job the most, not the one that wants the most for the job.

    All four of these coaches can and would have tremendous success at Notre Dame but for very different reasons and with different techniques. BK will have success with the spread offense, and recruiting players for that offense, but only as long as it exists in the NFL. Once it is abandoned by the big boys, many recruits will not want to come to a school that practices ancient offenses. BK teams will always be high scoring offense, bend don’t break defense. Playing lesser opponents, the defense will look good, playing equally talented opponents the offense will have to play great.
    Jon Gruden, Randy Edsall, and Skip Holtz are similar in that the offenses will eat clock, move chains and the defenses will smack opponents in the mouth and be very stingy about giving up yards. Championships are won by defense, end of story.

    I will rejoice if any of these four are named as the next head football coach because we should have a much improved year in 2010. I will scratch my head and take a wait and see attitude with all others.

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    1. Geoff G 8 years ago

      @ Senior – What makes you think UCONN has a defense that will “smack opponents in the mouth?” UCONN doesn’t have a great defense at all in my opinion. They have had success through offensive players…. ie, Donald Brown.

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      1. Senior 8 years ago

        Agree that the majority of what Randy has accomplished is on the offense, however, I think he fields a solid defense with limited talent. What they have lacked in talent has been compensated for with good fundamental techniques from coaching efforts. Don’t forget that he did produce a DB playing on Sunday up in Foxboro.

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    2. Edward G 8 years ago

      Could the “mystery candidate” be Butch Davies?

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