Narrowing The List Of Charlie Weis Successors at Notre Dame

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Narrowing The List Of Charlie Weis Successors at Notre Dame

I recently wrote about the "Long List" of potential successors to Coach Weis at Notre Dame. My stated criteria in assembling the Long List of more than 21 names were:

  1. Track record as a successful head coach at the Division I college level or the NFL. (Assistants need not apply).
  2. Ability to recruit. Ideally a proven recruiter, but may have to make judgment call on the recruiting potential of NFL candidates.
  3. Person of integrity and class. (This rules out Urban Meyer and Nick Saban).
  4. Committed to making sure Notre Dame student athletes go to class, graduate on time, and represent the University with class. (Real students, no thugs).

Yesterday the University officially announced the firing of Head Football Coach Charlie Weis, and Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick spoke for a few minutes with the media about his decision to "take our football program in a different direction" and he gave us some clues about where the search for a new coach might lead.

Clearly, from listening to Swarbrick and reading the full transcript of the press conference, there is a very strong preference for candidates "who have demonstrated an ability to build and sustain a Division I college football program." Swarbrick used that phrase twice in his remarks yesterday. "Building and sustaining." He also indicated that, while it wouldn't necessarily be a limiting factor, he does feel that we "need to play good defense." So I won't leave anyone off the list depending upon whether they are a defensive or an offensive minded coach, but just be aware that at the and of the day that might be the tie-breaker.

Should we believe what jack Swarbrick is telling us? Is he trying to throw us off the scent while he brings in another NFL coach? I don't think so. The template for success at Notre Dame has been fairly simple. When we have hired proven college head coaches we have had great success. When we have gone off that recipe, we have met disaster. So I think we can take Jack at his word. Having just dismissed a very good NFL coach, it would be a very risky move for Swarbrick to bring in another NFL guy and expect a better result. Much safer for him to go with what has worked well in the past.

So, taking Jack at his word, we can start whittling the Long List down, removing coaches who have not demonstrated the ability to build and sustain a Division I college football program. To me the word "build" means a coach who has taken a program from whatever level it was on when he was hired and then elevated the program to another level. The word "build" means, to me, that we don't necessarily want a coach who took over as the caretaker of a program that was already doing really well and simply maintained it. The word "sustained" means we don't want a one-year wonder. We want someone who built a program up to a high level and then kept it there for some time.

Applying these standards to the Long List and being a little flexible with the definitions of "build" and "sustain", I get the following names:

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