The State of Notre Dame: Jim Harbaugh, Brian Kelly Mark Start of Silly Season

Marc HalstedCorrespondent IDecember 7, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 14:  Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Stanford Cardinal signals during the game with the USC Trojans on November 14, 2009 at the Los Angeles Coliseum in Los Angeles, California.  Stanford won 55-21.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

It's Silly Season in South Bend.

Notre Dame football had been responsible for a bevy of major college football announcements over the past few days with far-reaching implications for the reputation of Notre Dame and the future of the program.

ESPN reported tonight that Jim Harbaugh and Brian Kelly will interview for the head coaching position left vacant by the Charlie Weis firing last Monday.

Kelly has brought his winning ways from Division II Grand Valley State, to MAC also-ran Central Michigan, and into Cincinnati over the past 15 years.

His 171-57-2 record complements his four Coach of the Year awards, including two (soon to be three?) from the Big East.

He's won two Division II National Championships, and he's guided Cincy two back-to-back BCS bowls.

But that's where the normalcy ends.

Meet Jim Harbaugh.

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The current Stanford head man has resurrected the Cardinal program in just three short years.

He's turned Toby Gerhart into the should-be Heisman winner.

He's scared the bejesus out of the Pac-10.

He's stared down Pete Carroll and run the score up on the now-hapless USC Trojans.

He's beat the Notre Dame defense like a rented mule.

And, he's done it all with color, charisma, and a California swagger straight out of central casting.

He also went for two against said Trojans—while up three touchdowns—just so he could hit half-a-hundred.

Now that's moxie.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, NFL silliness has landed in the wallets of Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate.

Both players announced their pro intentions Monday, assuring themselves of the first-round selections they've prepared for, the first-round money they've dreamed of, and the first-round attention they've always craved.

Clausen's exit leaves Notre Dame with exactly one scholarship quarterback for spring practice in Dayne Crist.

Crist, currently recovering from major knee surgery, is not even a guarantee for the first April run-through.

He is a five-star product who's shown flashes of brilliance in spot duty, but he'll still be wearing non-contact yellow throughout the spring and summer, and still lacks the playing time, poise, and professionalism that so many Irish fans expect from their Montana-back.

Speaking of South Bend Joe, the silly Division I hopes of Nate Montana took a hit this past fall, as he spent his junior college season playing like Hannah Montana.

Unless Class of 2010 commits Tommy Rees or Andrew Hendrix decide to enroll early, the Irish may have no other quarterback option beyond moving wide receiver (and former high school signal-caller) Jon Goodman to No. 1 on the depth chart.

Carson to Leno. Dimaggio to Mantle. Clausen to Goodman?

And to wrap it up, Charlie Weis has been spending the last 48 hours trying to remove a size 12 clodhopper from his mouth, after callously placing Pete Carroll in an alleged affair with a young co-ed in some beach-side love nest. 

Weis' ill-advised and utterly unprofessional comments were a parting shot that not only missed the bow, stern, and mid ship, but turned around and sunk what was left of the Weis-ian reputation in the eyes of respectable Trojan fans.

In summary, Notre Dame is going on nine days without a head coach. 

The Irish are interviewing a Big East coach who's headed to the BCS with a program he's manufactured from sawdust shavings and who has a wife, a child, and a team who desperately wants him to stay in a city affectionately known as "The 'Nati."

The Dome is also interviewing a relatively unproven Stanford coach with a rather large mouth and enormous ego who takes his image as "Michigan Man" more seriously than the ghost of Bo Shembechler.

The Blue and Gold just lost the finest statistical quarterback in their vaunted history.

They also lost the most dynamic offensive weapon seen at Notre Dame Stadium since the days of Rocket.

The University of Notre Dame does not have a healthy scholarship quarterback on the roster and would have to turn to Jon Goodman if a pick-up game broke out tomorrow afternoon.

And the Fighting Irish have a former coach who's still making bad headlines from the New York Times to the Daily Trojan.

Silly Season has hit South Bend.  I just hope South Bend can hit back.


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