After Willingham was hired and disastrously led the Irish program into the ground, Notre Dame felt 100 percent confident it could lure former Holtz and Bob Davie assistant coach Urban Meyer from an undefeated Utah program he’d built. The son of an intensely Catholic mother from Ohio who’d named her son after a Pope, Meyer was certain to resurrect a program left in ruins under the arms of Touchdown Jesus. The House that Rockne built would regain its glory.
Discussing the possibility of Urban Meyer taking the position at Notre Dame, cbssports.com wrote:
“One coach certain to be mentioned as a possible replacement for Willingham is Utah's Urban Meyer, an Irish assistant during 1996-2000. The Utes are 11-0 and ranked No. 5 in their second year under Meyer.
Meyer said he hadn't heard about Willingham's departure from Notre Dame until he was asked about it by the Associated Press on Tuesday.
Asked whether he has had any contact with Notre Dame or whether he would be interested in coaching the Fighting Irish, Meyer responded: ‘I won't comment on it.’”
Little did Notre Dame’s administration, alumni or fans know that the Florida Gators had already swooped in and grabbed the Domers’ top target, offering Meyer and his family the allure of SEC talent, warm weather, and the beach. Irish fans across the nation were distraught, especially after seeing the Gators' success.