Monday, November 16, 2009

Another One Bites the Dust

So, here we are, 10 games into Weis' 5th season as head coach of Notre Dame, and we're sitting at 6-4. I don't care what other factors go into the post-season review of Coach Weis, but this team has clearly underachieved. The talent is there, but these kids have shown no significant progress in fundamentals, and that falls squarely on the coaching.

I like Coach Weis. I'm grateful for so many of the great things he has done since he arrived in South Bend. He's rebuilt the foundations of the program and invested him and his family in the South Bend community. He's a good man, and he clearly has a great offensive mind. However, he has not managed to become a complete head football coach. He works tirelessly, but sitting at 6-4 in year 5 is just not good enough. I desperately wanted him to succeed, but at this point, I think it is time to accept that he will not be the head football coach of Notre Dame next year, barring three straight impressive looking wins over UConn, Stanford, and the bowl opponent. And even that may be too little, too late.

So, let's take this opportunity to look at the not-so-short list of potential candidates to replace Coach Weis, in no particular order.

Brian Kelly, Head Coach, University of Cincinnati

I was not a big fan of Kelly's when his name was being bandied about last year. But, he's shown at every stop that he's capable of building a winner in short order. There are some question marks, including his ability to handle national recruiting, admissions standards, etc. But, he reminds me very much of Jim Tressel in his background. I think he's the safest hire on the board.

Urban Meyer, Head Coach, University of Florida

I just don't think this is going to happen. Sue, he's clearly the best candidate out there. And yes, he's repeatedly stated that Notre Dame is his dream job. He has connections to the University, having coached here as an assistant. He's a Catholic named after a pope. But ultimately, he's won multiple titles at a top tier program, and pulling that kind of coup I think is beyond our ability.

Bob Stoops, Head Coach, University of Oklahoma

Stoops is clearly a top tier coach, having taken Oklahoma to a championship, multiple conference championships and BCS bowls. Again, I think luring a coach from a Tier 1 program is not going to happen. And, he does have a bit of history of losing big games. But, if it came to fruition, I'd definitely be excited. Of course, he has no experience with academic standards, and he has had some brushes with the NCAA.

Jon Gruden, Monday Night Football Analyst, former Superbowl winning head coach

Gruden is one of the names that pops up every time we start talking about a potential replacement. He graduated from South Bend Clay while his father was an assistant here. He's won on the biggest stage of them all. He's young, fiery and passionate. He also has no experience coaching in college, and I'd be very wary of bringing in another NFL guy. This team needs someone to coach up these kids on fundamentals.

Paul Johnson, Head Coach, Georgia Institute of Technology

Johnson is one of my personal favorite candidates. He's shown an ability to drill fundamentals into his players, and uses the triple option to great effect at each of his stops. Of course, transitioning back to an option offense may not be the best fit for our current personnel, but he did it at Georgia Tech in no time flat. Not many downsides here.

Mike Shanahan, not currently employed, former 2-time Superbowl winning head coach

Shanahan is my personal favorite darkhorse in this race, even though he is an NFL guy. He has some high-level experience in college coaching before transitioning to the NFL. His system at Denver was extremely consistent, and his ability to generate a running game regardless of running back is very attractive. He's current available, so we could work out a seamless transition. I really like this option, but nobody seems to be talking much about the possibility.

Gary Patterson Head Coach, Texas Christian University

A defensive guy that coaches a team with a very explosive offense, and has built TCU into a national power. He doesn't recruit nationally (he's in Texas, he doesn't have to), but his Texas connections could add to a well-built recruiting machine that's already in place.

Nick Saban, Head Coach, University of Alabama

I'm not sure why Saban's name even comes up, but I've heard it enough times that I feel I should mention it. He's a perfect fit for Alabama - shady coach for a shady program that will do ANYTHING to win and win now. Alabama is still one of the top tier programs, and there is no chance he leaves such a cush job. And I don't want him, I don't care how good he is at coaching. Same reasons I want nothing to do with Pete Carroll.

Jim Harbaugh, Head Coach, Stanford University

Okay, so Harbaugh is a Michigan guy who reportedly does not like Notre Dame at all. But, if you ignore those intangibles, he's the best option on paper. He's quickly rebuilt a Stanford program that has to deal with admissions standards into an impressive team that just beat Pete Carrol's USC team 55-21. And, this wasn't his first time beating the Poodle either. He has a strong running game that sets up the play-action pass. He may be playing his way into an interview at the end of the season.

I'm sure there are others out there that I've missed. If you have any other suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment, and I'll post an addendum.


nate sjol said...

What about Tommy Tuberville? Was a winner at Auburn, teams were always competitive, arguably should have played for a few BCS titles and has extensive connections to HS programs in the South. Not a bad one to throw out there, if you ask me. Plus, coaching at an SEC school would make the pressures of coaching at ND a cakewalk.

Anonymous said...

Disagree that Harbaugh is the best option on paper. He has amassed a 29–6 and championship record in Div II football San Diego Toreros (Pioneer Football League) (2004–2006). however, he has a losing record against real competition in D I at Stanford through almost 3 seasons (despite beating SC twice).

Compare that to Brian Kelly: Grand Valley State: 53–11; Central Michigan: 19–16 (including finishing first in his last year); Cincinnati: 32–6 (including finishing first in conference last year and on his way to a potential national championship despite losing a heisman calabur QB)

I believe on paper there is no choice, that being Brian Kelly by a Mile

Anonymous said...

If we can't score one of the top-tier choices, then Jim Grobe ought to be added to the mix. Solid overall record (not having the best year currently) at a school with high academic standards. Gets maximum mileage out of 2-stars and the occasional 3-star against well-stocked ACC teams. Could probably blow a lot of teams away with the embarassment of recruiting riches at ND.

Josh said...

I'm surprised we don't hear Greg Shiano in the conversation more.

Ska said...

No Urban Liar. This is a program built on thuggery. Enough said.

Clay said...

Well put, DL. Thank you for encapsulating the Weis situation with class and coherence. The guys on NDNation want to attack Weis personally when his record and the team's performance on the field provide more than enough justification for going in another direction next season.

I too disagree that Harbaugh is the best option on paper. Brian Kelly is it. Like Urban Meyer when he went to Florida, Kelly had a track record of winning at every level. He has national championships at the DII level, conference championships in the Mac and Big East Conference Championships under his belt. I wouldn't sweat recruiting--he can do it at UC and Weis has proven that to do it at ND, all it takes is hard work.

Also, regarding Harbaugh, I get the impression that he just doesn't like ND, which would make sense given that he's a Michigan guy. Everything you wrote about Saban goes double for Urban Meyer. He's had 23 arrests during his time at UF. I think he threw Tebow back into action entirely too soon, too. He is obviously more concerned with winning than about his players' well being.

Josh, for whatever reason, Schiano is no longer the flavor of the month. I guess they've fallen off somewhat since Ray Rice left.

Two other options, though: Turner Gill and Chris Peterson. Gill was last year's hot coach, what's the buzz on him this year? What Peterson has done with Boise State is great. They take California's refuse and make gold records, baby--I mean win football games.

Anonymous said...

Be prepared for a big surprise...soon. My favorite is Kelly, but I fear it will not happen. I believe it will be someone most people are not seeing...not that far away.

Wacko said...

I don't think the move is going to happen soon. However, if Swarbrick is as impressive as I think he is, there will be a press conference the Tuesday after the Stanford game announcing Coach Weis' resignation and the introduction of the new football coach. Whoever that may be.

rakeback said...

I'm surprised that Gruden just signed a contract extension with ESPN, because I thin most people predicted he would be headed back to the sidelines next year.

Clay said...

Just imagine if we hadn't fired George O'Leary. He's doing a pretty decent job at UCF. He definitely would have had us playing better than Willingham and Weis, and we would never have sunken quite this low.

Maybe we should take a second look at O'Leary. I'm half kidding.

ND fan from NC said...

I like Jim Harbaugh with the success that he has had in the Pac 10. Stanford does not get the 4-5 star recruits that Notre Dame gets but his players always play with passion and intensity. Even though he is a Michigan guy, he did publicly state the academics were not a priority at Michigan which infuriated many Michigan administrators and alumni. What better way to get back at his former school than to coach at hated Notre Dame and play them on a yearly basis? I also like the coach at TCU. It is remarkable how well coached and discplined his players are. He consistently has a top defense and strong offensive production, even with players you may not be familiar with coming out of high school. Regardless, Notre Dame is my school and I will cheer for them wholeheartedly no matter who the coach is.

Dekom said...

Add Coach Jags, formerly of BC.

Clay said...

One more thing, OC--didn't Harbaugh allegedly tell Clausen to F-off after last year's game? Don't think that's the type of guy we want.

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

Anonymous 2 mentioned Jim Grobe. He'd be alright, I think, but I know he's REALLY happy at Wake. I thought Arkansas tried to lure him away a couple of years ago, but he eventually turned them down.

Craig said...

Anybody suggesting Jagodzinski is certifiably nuts. The guy basically walked away from BC because he didn't think he could handle the job (by the reports on his departure there that I've seen), and now you want him at ND?!?