With all the wild and unsubstantiated rumors flying around about the possible hiring of Urban Meyer, Bob Stoops, and Jim Harbaugh as the next head football coach at Notre Dame, one has to wonder when reality will hit the Fighting Irish and their fans.
There is no way—zero chance—that Meyer, Stoops, or Harbaugh will take the job. As a matter of fact, the only relatively high profile coach they even have a shot at getting is Cincinnati’s Brian Kelly.
But is Kelly the best candidate?
Granted he has done an excellent job with the Cincinnati program that is in line to win their second consecutive Big East championship, not to mention turn in an undefeated regular season.
He also has strong recruiting ties to the Midwest, after spending 13 years leading Division II power Grand Valley State and three at Central Michigan, prior to starting his four-year run at Cincinnati.
It would be hard to argue against hiring Kelly.
However, I think that there is a top candidate who is currently flying under the radar of many—Skip Holtz.
Yes, old Lou’s boy.
One thing Skip Holtz has over Kelly would be his familiarity with the tradition and expectations that come with taking the Notre Dame head coaching position.
Skip is a Notre Dame alum and actually was a walk-on wide receiver (more like a special teams player) in 1986.
He was also an assistant coach at Notre Dame for seven seasons, including five as offensive coordinator under his father, Lou Holtz, then the head man of the Fighting Irish.
Holtz has had his own success as a head coach, starting with a successful stint at the University of Connecticut, where he helped to lay the foundation of the resurrection of their football program.
For the past five seasons, Skip has led the East Carolina Pirates to the top of Conference USA.
Personally, as someone who has kept a close eye on the ECU football program over the years, as my wife is an ECU alum, I have been excited over what Holtz has been able to do with the Pirates and would hate to see him leave.
Last year, he entertained offers from Syracuse to take over their program but withdrew from consideration, bringing great relief to Pirate Nation.
Obviously, Lou Holtz still has close ties to the Notre Dame alumni and boosters, and I would think someone will no doubt ask for his insight.
Would he like to see his son return to Notre Dame, or would he recommend he stays at East Carolina, continuing to build a quality program with the hope of joining the Big East Conference in the next few years?
Most certainly, the Irish will make a run at Brian Kelly, but, in doing so, they may overlook the candidate who could be the best fit for them at this time.