If the powers that be at Notre Dame decide to make a coaching change, it is going to require a decided financial advantage.
This will be necessary to pay the remainder of Charlie Weis' contract, as well as lure the next coach that Notre Dame can't afford to miss on.
The reasons to fire Charlie Weis have been well documented, especially the last two weeks.
Rather than list the many reasons for or against his firing, read a quote from the man himself after he was hired in 2004:
"You are what you are folks. And right now, you're a 6-5 football team. And guess what, that's just not good enough. It's not good enough for you, and it's certainly not going to be good enough for me. If you think they hired me here to go .500, you got the wrong guy."
Notre Dame has hired four coaches since the departure of Lou Holtz. Three of them actually coached the team, and the sum of their record is slightly above .500. This is why Notre Dame has to spare no expense in hiring the right head coach for the program.
What criteria should the next head coach meet?
Who should the next head coach be?
Will a sure winner accept the job?
The next head coach has to have head coaching experience. There are plenty of examples of talented coordinators that have been successful when taking over a program. Unfortunately for Notre Dame, the Bob Davie and Charlie Weis era proves that taking a chance on an unproven hot shot coordinator as a head coach can result in mediocrity.
The next head coach has to have a track record of great success. BCS bowl wins, defeating high-ranked opponents, conference championships, 1-AA championships, Div. II championships, Div. III championships, and a high-winning percentage is a must. Tyrone Willingham proved to Notre Dame that a head coach with moderate success does not mean coming to Notre Dame makes them better.
Beware of the NFL coach. The NFL does not require a great motivator as much as college programs do. A stoic figure is not going to get a college kid to run through a brick wall if need be, nor drum up major support from alumni. If you're going to get an NFL head coach, make sure they have the right attitude and personality for college.
Fear the NFL offensive coach. Not that an offensive coach from the NFL can't be successful in the college game, but they have a severe handicap in college. In college football, a team can only practice a certain amount of hours, and the players have academic requirements.
This coach would have to adjust to not having the luxury of having players at their unlimited disposal to install their complex schemes. They would have to simplify, and most NFL offensive coaches don't do simple.
Husker nation would likely support the last point. Bill Callahan probably spent so many of the precious meeting hours teaching his quarterbacks just how to call his plays, let alone execute them, that he completely forgot he was accountable for a defense.
Notre Dame experienced success in the first two years under Charlie Weis, an NFL offensive coach. It seems now in hindsight that to execute a "decided schematic advantage" that it requires a roster of veterans. Notre Dame has been a game-plan team under Weis, rather then develop and perfect any identity.
For each opponent, Notre Dame would make significant changes to their game-plan. Without the necessary practice time, the last two years seem to show more installation of scheme rather than fundamentals. The performance of the offensive line seems to reflect this, as well as inexperienced players thinking rather than flying around and hitting.
The next head coach must be able to recruit. This was a hard lesson learned, taught by Tyrone Willingham. To Weis' credit, he at least proved that you can still bring in top talent at Notre Dame. Regardless, if Notre Dame doesn't get a winner at the helm, a new Notre Dame tradition of being mediocre will make recruiting much more difficult.
Who should Notre Dame hire? Due to the Dav-Willing-Weis era, there are probably a number of candidates that could be successful but won't get the opportunity. So Notre Dame must hire a sure thing.
Bob Stoops, Pete Carroll, Urban Meyer, and Nick Saban would probably be the only head coaches that 90 percent of people would agree are sure things. Urban Meyer would probably be the only possibility, based purely on his comments about Notre Dame in his own autobiography.
Jack Swarbrick should fill a dump truck with anywhere between $50 and $70 million. Take the dump truck to the Meyer's residence and dump the money on his front lawn. Let Urban and his family look at that pile of money, and see if they can say no.
If the dump truck plan fails, then consider the following names:
Butch Davis, Bill Cowher, Gary Patterson, Mark Richt, Brian Kelly, Pat Hill, Chris Peterson, Paul Johnson, and Tom Coughlin.
If Notre Dame offers the right financial package, then the mystique, TV contract, and roster full of talent would just be icing on the cake.