Has the time come for a change at Notre Dame? Can Jack Swarbrick afford to go against the opinion of the Irish faithful and keep Charlie Weis at the helm of the nation's most scrutinized and beloved college football team?
The common answer to the questioning of Weis' future is an overwhelming no. With that said, the next question among the Notre Dame community is who will replace Charlie Weis?
Below, four Irish writers will try to answer that very question:
Dan Scofield —As each day passes, it looks more and more like Charlie will be shown the door. In my eyes, there is only one man who should fill the open vacancy—Brian Kelly.
Kelly possesses everything that Irish fans constantly moan and groan about in regards to Charlie Weis. Weis lacks consistency, a track record in college coaching, improvement from each stop on his resume, and development of his recruits (maybe the biggest criticism of Weis).
Although bigger names will be thrown around (Meyer, Stoops, Gruden), I am a firm believer that if you've done it in the past, you can do it in the future. Kelly dominated the Division II level and has since moved on to a 50-22 record amongst the big boys.
He has taken a mediocre Cincinnati program and turned them into a top-10 team, all within a few short years. He even turned the 2007 season-starting quarterback, Demetrius Jones, into a fine linebacker.
Notre Dame can offer him at least double his current salary (approximately $2 million), and his buyout isn't anything that should scare the Irish away. Bring this Bostonian Irishman to South Bend!
Trey Bradley —I’d go after Tony Dungy, who recently won a Super Bowl in Indiana. He has national name recognition and outstanding interpersonal skills, which lead me to believe he could succeed in recruiting.
I would assume his coaching background predisposes him to continuing our pro-style passing attack, hopefully minimizing the disruption of a coaching change. He’s a brilliant defensive mind, which will help compensate for Notre Dame’s current deficiencies on defense. Plus, his spirituality is in keeping with the university’s goals.
This isn’t a reason to hire him, but the fact that we could put the racial fallacies to rest would also be a nice bonus.
Mike Muratore —If the time to replace Charlie Weis has come, and it certainly appears that it has, I hope the Irish eyes look south. Just not as far south as some would want!
Cincinnati's Brian Kelly is where I hope the Irish coaching search stops. At the Division I level (FBS), Kelly has amassed a 50-22 record in six years. At Cincinnati, he has posted a very impressive 31-6 record, winning four of six games against ranked opponents, and is 14-4 against teams finishing with a winning record.
An added bonus is that his offensive scheme is similar to that of the Irish, and would not require the total strip-and-rebuild that would be needed if an option-based coach like Skip Holtz or a spread-style coach like Urban Meyer were to land in South Bend.
Kelly has won at every level he's coached, amassing a career mark of 169-57-2 with a pair of Division II national titles, a MAC title, a Big East title, and "Coach of the Year" awards at every stop. It's hard to know if he is looking to take on a challenge like Notre Dame, but it is a conversation that Notre Dame needs to have.
Eric Murtaugh —I initially wanted to pick a darkhorse candidate. Someone who isn’t getting a lot of attention but would fit in well at Notre Dame. I came up with Tom O’Brien, Greg Schiano, Pat Fitzgerald, Kevin Sumlin, Turner Gill, and my personal favorite, Mike Riley.
However, when it came down to making a choice I kept coming back to one man—Gary Patterson of TCU. First and foremost, I wanted someone who coaches good defense and has a strong track record as a head coach. Patterson fits the mold perfectly.
There is no doubt in my mind that Patterson would come in and instantly make the Irish better. His teams always play aggressive defense and Notre Dame needs that more than anything. The administration will be tempted to take someone with an offensive pedigree, but Patterson can transform the defense and keep the talented offense running smoothly.
Also factoring into my decision is that it will be easier to lure Patterson away from TCU (even if they go undefeated) than it would be to bring in Meyer, Kelly, Gruden, etc.