Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis could be out at the end of the season. But who should replace him?
As we near the end of another college football season, one of America's favorite subjects rises again: What happens to Notre Dame?
Why is this non-story a story? Yu don't have to look far -- whether in St. Louis or in any other part of the country -- Notre Dame fans, however obnoxious or uppity, are everywhere.
Since Lou Holtz
left the Irish after the '96 season, the national relevance of the program has diminished almost as much as Holtz's relevance as an ESPN analyst. Notre Dame has no trouble being relevant to fans or the media because it's, well, Notre Dame. But the program isn't the problem, it's the coach. When Charlie Weis
was brought in five years ago, it was because he was an alumni and he had credentials as the offensive coordinator for the Super Bowl-winning dynasty New England Patriots. It seemed like a logical choice, right?
Weis' credibility as a coach isn't in question; it's whether he's right
for Notre Dame. In five seasons, he has amassed the same record and
winning percentage as the two guys before him: 35 wins, 25 losses, just
like Bob Davies
; and a winning percentage of .583 just like Davies and Tyrone Willingham
Not to mention Weis broke the unwritten Notre Dame rule: "Do
not lose to Navy."
He lost to them twice -- at home. No other coach in
college football has been under more scrutiny and measure than Weis.
Even Steve Spurrier
, a legend who was hired at the same time
at South Carolina, isn't in the hot seat.
It's the program and Notre Dame at some point needs to hire a guy who
can win. Say what you want about
recruiting, how they're not in a conference, their weak schedule, the weight of tradition and tough academic standards. Weis is no different than the two coaches before him, and
they ultimately failed at ND.
It is unclear with two games left whether Weis will be let go; he
doesn't seem to care either way, and it's obvious that a decision has
probably been made. It's out of Weis' control and that is OK, as he
stands to walk away with some pretty good dough.
Who can win at Notre Dame, who should replace Charlie
After two national championships in three years and a possible
third in four years, he seems like the logical choice. A national
recruiting ground at his disposal (not just Florida and the rest of
south to pick from); proven success wherever he has been (Utah went to
BCS in his tenure) and a proven leader to young men, "Pope Urban" coaching Notre Dame has some poetry to it. Meyer even has roots with Notre Dame, as a wide receivers coach from1996-2000. So with
Jimmy Clausen, Golden Tate and Mike Floyd on that offense, along with
Kyle Rudolph, there is no reason why Meyer couldn't make them all Number 1 in the country.
Currently he is the head coach of one of the hottest,
under-the-radar teams in the country, The University of Cincinnati. Kelly has a background that goes into Division II football with back-to-back D-2 national championships at Grand Valley State. Kelly is more
of a defensive-minded coach, so with his hiring fans know he can turn it
around for the Irish, who seem to have lacked the 'fighting'" that with
defense this year and throughout the Weis era.
At 49, he is young enough to make a name as one of the
greatest coaches in Notre Dame History. Currently he is the head coach
of TCU, which is running a 10-0 record playing against competition much
like Notre Dame. Patterson has been all around the college football
circuit and like Kelly (above) is a defensive minded guy. In eight
years at TCU, Patterson's 73 victories place him in second place on the
TCU career victory chart and he is the only coach in school history to
record six ten-win seasons. Over the course of the 2005 & 2006
seasons, the Frogs won four consecutive games against Big 12 opponents,
with only one of the four coming at home.
As a defensive coordinator at Virginia Tech, Foster has
been successful at breading tough defenses that rank in the top of the
country; in fact he has only had a defense rank outside the top 20 three times in the past decade. Foster, 50, and
like the gentlemen listed above him has a great coaching pedigree and
the major benefit of Frank Beamer as his mentor since 1987. He would
certainly be a worthy candidate to succeed Weis -- and he would bring a lot of swagger
to a Fighting Irish. Question is, can he win a championship and
recruit like the candidates above? He has zero head coaching experience and
that didn't work out for the last few guys.
Currently he is 6-3 this season at Stanford, which like
Notre Dame, has tough academic standards. In just two years he has been
able to make his team competitive in an up-and-comer in the Pac-10. Oh yeah,
he crushed USC 55-21, something every Notre Dame fan would relish in, with eight
straight losses to the Trojans. A former NFL quarterback, he would
benefit Jimmy Clausen. Harbaugh's coaching lineage also
comes into play, as his father was a football coach for eighteen years,
including fourteen years as head coach at Western Kentucky. His turnaround of
Stanford's program is remarkable and his turnaround at ND could be amazing. Despite that he is a "Michigan guy" and may end up coaching there, he would be a good fit at Notre Dame.
A proven winner in the college ranks, Stoops has had his
Sooners consistently ranked within the national Top 10 at Oklahoma since 1999. He's helped them to two National Championship appearances and one win. Stoops is another
defensive-minded tactician, but he can recruit and that will go a long way for
Notre Dame, as they have struggled to pull from the Texas/Oklahoma pool
of football talent. Stoops knows how to work the recruiting game. Stoops would be
a very smart hire for the Fighting Irish with a record of 114-28
(0.803) he can keep national championship relevant for many years to
Gruden's probability as coach is bit of a stretch at this point -- because he just signed a new contract with Monday Night Football on ESPN -- and it seems he may be more interested in have video games named after him in the future, rather than
coach again. His unlikely combination of youthfulness and experience as a
Super Bowl-winning head coach make him a viable candidate to coach in South Bend.Kevin Coll is an avid blogger who owns FusedFilm.com, where he writes on entertainment news. Follow him on twitter @kent21685 and @fusedfilm.