Five for Friday: Notre Dame Coaching Candidates
By Tony Gerdeman
(This is the start of a new weekly series where I pose a question or topic and give you the five best answers to that question or topic.)
The schadenfreude flowing through college football fans was palpable when news broke on Wednesday that Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly spoke with the Philadelphia Eagles about their open head coaching position,.
"This would be the most hilarious thing ever," America said.
Obviously, Kelly is just trying to get a raise from Notre Dame, so I don't think he's actually going anywhere. However, 2013 linebacker commit Alex Anzalone sure did, because he decommitted from Notre Dame on Thursday in order to enroll at Florida.
Some may think Kelly's game of chicken backfired because he lost a blue-chip linebacker, but I'm guessing when he's making $4 million next year instead of $2.6 million, he'll find a way to sleep at night.
However, in the off chance that Kelly's leaving is actually a possibility, I thought it would be prudent to take a look at the coaches that Notre Dame would approach as his replacement.
Below, I have ranked those possibilities in order from most likely to least likely. The list is entirely my opinion with no input from a search firm or the Notre Dame athletic department (as far as you know...).
1. Urban Meyer (Head Coach Ohio State)
Meyer has a connection to Notre Dame, having been a receivers coach there prior to leaving for Bowling Green. He has spoken glowingly of Notre Dame in the past and it's not a secret that the university and football program hold a special place in Meyer's heart. Clearly, if the great and powerful Notre Dame came calling, Meyer would have no choice but to listen and accept whatever terms they offered him. After all, nobody can say no to Notre Dame. Well, except for that time in 2004 when Urban Meyer said no to Notre Dame, and then again in November of 2009 to assorted media members, a week before the university fired Charlie Weis and before they even got a chance to ask him. But Notre Dame would obviously be undeterred because they are Notre Dame and nobody else is. And anyway, nobody says no to Notre Dame a third time!
2. Phil Jackson (Unemployed)
Jackson wants to coach again, but he wants to do it on his terms. Well, how does one game a week for 13 weeks sound? I know that this might seem a little unorthodox given Jackson's background as a hippie, and the fact that he's usually being all "Zenny", but Notre Dame and Phil Jackson are like the chocolate and peanut butter of championships. They go together perfectly, offsetting eachother's salty and sweet sides. The BCS should just start throwing crystal footballs Notre Dame's way if this deal gets done. Make it rain with those crystal footballs, BCS! Jackson has a history with championshipping that is unmatched by anybody in the game today. The guy doesn't even have enough fingers for his championship rings, for crying out loud! Just look at what he did with one Michael Jordan. Imagine what he would do with 85 of them at Notre Dame. This is the biggest no-brainer since Bret Bielema left Wisconsin for anywhere else in the world.
3. Various Celebrity Guests
Hey, it works for NBC's other dwindlingly-rated staple 'Saturday Night Live', so why shouldn't it work here? You can't tell me you wouldn't love to see Christopher Walken patrolling the sidelines as "The Continental". Just imagine the halftime interview with Holly Rowe. Please imagine it. Just think of the recruiting impact that a visiting movie star could have on this program. When The Rock is promoting a "Fast and the Furious" movie, he would stop by for a week and be coach. The pregame speech would be electrifying. There is nothing about this idea that isn't fantastic. If they wanted to, they could even have past Irish players who have also hosted 'SNL' be on the sidelines, though I think that list is just Joe Montana and I'm not sure if he's on speaking terms with the university right now. The Steve Martin cameos during halftime would be worth it alone. Sure, nobody in high school knows who Steve Martin is, but Notre Dame has always had a strong connection to things that are no longer relevant.
4. 2005 Charlie Weis
Let's face it, as far as brainwashing goes, the military could learn a few things from 2005 Charlie Weis. He had Irish fans and administration so enthralled that they have yet to find an equal. Yes, it was all a farce, but it was a beautiful farce. It was an amazing time in our country's history. I can still see the pictures of all of those Notre Dame fans laying on the ground in their white Nikes. But that was another world ago, and we can't go back there again. Or can we? If you don't mind, I would like to specifically address the Notre Dame fans for a moment. Imagine that it is 2005 again and this guy named "Morpheus" sits you down and explains to you the way the world really is. Your dark reality. The fraud that Charlie Weis was. You are devastated at the awful truth that you have been shown. He then offers you a blue pill, which will wipe your mind of these new truths and send you back to your willing and blissful ignorance, believing that Charlie Weis is the most strategically-advantaged coach on American soil. Or you can take this red pill, and...oh, I see you've already taken the blue pill.
5. Pat Fitzgerald (Head Coach Northwestern)
Yes, Pat Fitzgerald's above-average success rate at Northwestern would absolutely make him a candidate to replace Brian Kelly, but the number one factor would be that Fitzgerald comes from a university where academics actually play a role in which athletes can get admitted. The Notre Dame administration would like him because he would have experience dealing with such academic hurdles when maintaining a winning football program, even though he'd never actually have to deal with those hurdles at Notre Dame because they don't actually exist. That is, unless you consider a speed bump a hurdle. But it would look good to the alumni who like to point to their academics when the football team is struggling.
Bonus: The Dad from Taken (Particularly Skilled)
Admittedly, he may have to miss a few games each year because his family always gets kidnapped, but when he's around he's pretty solid, assuming you like karaoke. And who wouldn't want to see what would happen during the postgame handshake against USC after Lane Kiffin went for two when the Trojans were already up by three touchdowns?
Bonus: Rich Rodriguez (Head Coach Arizona)
Despite Rich Rodriguez's terrible three-year run at Michigan, he did finish 2-1 against Notre Dame, and that wasn't by accident. Or maybe it was. Still, the university could be thinking of some type of "If you can't beat 'em, join him" scenario here.
Bonus: Patton Oswalt (Comedian/Actor)
This would only be done if Notre Dame didn't want to fund another coach's wardrobe and needed to find a replacement who could wear all of Brian Kelly's old windbreakers.
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