He was the classic case of "the one that got away," the ridiculously hot girlfriend that should have been locked down. He was the one keeping up at night the obsessively wistful Notre Dame fans, who play the hiring scenarios of 2004 over and over in their heads wondering what went wrong, what could have been different.
Urban Meyer's surprise resignation today from the University of Florida appears to finally close the book on any chance (however remote) of one last coaching fling at Notre Dame.
His incredible success at Florida, with two national championships and three one-loss seasons in his first four years, made his rejection of the Irish even more painful. Notre Dame could not have dreamed of a coaching campaign more worthy of their legendary history.
Some of his alleged tactics rubbed even more salt in the wound. For all those Irish fans who wish he had chosen to coach for Notre Dame, there were just as many who roared in outrage at perceived underhanded methods to poach previously committed prized recruits Omar Hunter and Justin Trattou.
He was the Brian Kelly of 2004, and the parallels of the background context are eerily similar.
Six years ago, Notre Dame's football program was in the same position as it was in 2009, adrift without direction and floundering in mediocrity.
Would Urban Meyer have won a national championship at ND?
In both instances, it was obvious that the current coaches possessed coaching flaws serious enough that any reasonable observer could conclude would prevent them from leading the Irish back to the top.
Meanwhile, a coach at a historically under performing college program was bringing his team to new heights, including a BCS bowl and an undefeated season. The coach ran his own version of the non-traditional spread offense, and many in the college football world regarded him as an offensive genius.
A personal connection to Notre Dame existed that made the school seem like a good fit, despite questions of whether success would translate from a small school to the national stage.
It was not to be for Urban Meyer, whose spurning rejection of Notre Dame is still felt even on the day of his resignation. So will Brian Kelly turn out to be the Urban Meyer of 2011 and beyond, building his own legend in Irish lore?
The best thing Brian Kelly can do is exorcise the ghost of Urban Meyer and bury those memories under a national championship.