Notre Dame football coaching search – Top candidates to replace Brian Kelly

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    brian kelly turned 60 on October 1st. 25, one month after becoming the winningest coach in Notre Dame history.

    kelly seemed to be in the legacy-building stage of her hall of fame career. She had stabilized and improved Notre Dame’s program, rebounding from a 4-8 season in 2016 to join double-digit winning campaigns. Notre Dame made the college football playoffs in 2018 and 2020 and seemed poised to compete for the top four on a regular basis.

    Reading: Notre dame football coaching search

    Kelly, who flirted with the NFL early in his career, didn’t look like a coach ready to leave for another college job. Just last week, he joked that unless a fairy godmother came along with a $250 million check, he would retire at Notre Dame as one of the best trainers on the show.

    lsu athletic director scott woodward must have a cape and a magic wand.

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    In an absolutely stunning move, Kelly leaves Notre Dame to become LSU’s next head coach. She won 113 games with the Fighting Irish in 12 years (including 21 from 2012 and 2013 that were vacated by the NCAA) and won 10 or more in each of the last five seasons.

    Kelly’s departure frees up another top spot in a historic coaching carousel. Notre Dame hasn’t won a national title since 1988, but many coaches still see it as one of the best jobs in the sport. Fighting Irish recruit nationally, have a national following and play across the country.

    kelly certainly leaves his successor with a better program than the one he inherited from charlie weis. Notre Dame’s athletic director, Jack Swarbrick, has been in the role since 2008, and the university has made some major recent improvements, including an indoor soccer-only practice field.

    swarbrick will have no shortage of interested candidates. I’d be a little surprised if it goes beyond no. 3 or 4 on this list.

    cincinnati coach luke fickell: I would normally be the favorite for the notre dame job, and could still end up being the pick. but things are complicated. Fickell has positioned Cincinnati for a historic spot in CFP, which the Bearcats would likely win if they beat Houston in the next AAC title game. If Cincinnati makes the playoffs, Fickell won’t be available until early January at the earliest. Notre Dame probably couldn’t wait that long. Fickell, 48, is holed up in Cincinnati, but Notre Dame is believed to be one of two jobs (Ohio state is the other) he would take in a heartbeat. he and his wife are catholic and would fit right into the notre dame community. Fickell is 47-14 in Cincinnati and 43-6 since the start of the 2018 season.

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    iowa state coach matt campbell: he and fickell have similar profiles and aspirations. They are both Ohio natives who are in high demand for other jobs but would only leave for a select few. Notre Dame is right at the top of the list for Campbell, who is 42-33 in Iowa State with one No. 9 and a party bowl championship last year. Campbell, 42, spent the early years of his career in his home state before landing the job in Iowa. He has dramatically improved the Cyclone program, and could also be considered for Oklahoma’s coaching vacancy. Campbell has a sharp, offensive mind and a strong recruiter whose personality and approach would be a good fit for Notre Dame.

    kelly leaves and goes to lsu, gets a 10-year, $95 million deal

    Notre Dame football coaching search - Top candidates to replace Brian Kelly

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    Matt Rhule, Carolina Panthers Coach: Recently, his name has started to come up more for college jobs, especially with the Panthers struggling for the second straight season. Although Rhule had been the NFL’s target for a long time, ultimately he might be a better fit in the college game, where he had success at both Temple and Baylor, before leaving for Carolina. Rhule, 46, is a New York native who played at Penn State and has spent much of his career in the Northeast, though he, too, has strong ties to Texas after his stint at Baylor. Rhule’s personality would be a great fit for Notre Dame, and his general experience profile could be intriguing for Swarbrick.

    Northwest coach pat fitzgerald: is another long shot, but worth including because of his career accomplishments and proximity to notre dame. fitzgerald, 46, grew up in suburban chicago and has recruited from the midwest for most of his coaching career. he is the winningest coach in Northwest history and has guided the Wildcats to two division titles since 2018, 10 bowl games and five top-25 finishes. Fitzgerald has turned down offers from Michigan and the NFL, as well as other notable jobs, agreeing to a new 10-year deal earlier this year. But he’s at a low point after Northwestern went 3-9 for the second time in three seasons.

    alabama offensive coordinator bill o’brien: wants to be a head coach again and can handle high profile settings after leading penn state and the houston texans and also working with bill belichick with the new england patriots O’Brien, 52, is a seasoned offensive player who can develop quarterbacks, most recently Heisman trophy contender Bryce Young in Alabama. He spent much of the early years of his career coaching ball at AC, where Notre Dame plays about half of his games. O’Brien is also familiar with some areas where Notre Dame recruits from his time at Penn State.

    kentucky coach mark stoops: grew up in a catholic home in youngstown, ohio, and knew all about notre dame football from a young age. Stoops has spent most of his coaching career away from his roots, but he still recruits to Ohio and to the Midwest in Kentucky, where he is completing his ninth season as a coach. the 54-year-old coach is just 58-53, but he will lead the Wildcats to their sixth straight bowl game with a chance of 10 wins. This fall, Kentucky started 6-0 for the first time since Bear Bryant coached the team in 1950. Stoops is ready to jump into a larger program and would bring a strong recruiting and player development lineup to Notre Dame.

    vanderbilt coach clark lea: a year ago, lea would undoubtedly have been a top candidate to replace kelly, her boss at notre dame from 2017 to 2020. as well That Lea Freeman was in very high regard by Notre Dame administrators and others around the program. His intelligence and consistent demeanor make him perfect for a job like Notre Dame. But Lea, 40, works at his alma mater and lives in his hometown. he, too, went 2-10 (0-8 in the second) in his first season. It’s hard to imagine him leaving Vanderbilt so soon, and Notre Dame has other attractive candidates. the timing feels a bit out of place here.

    See also: Why is Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State called Bedlam? –

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