Monday, November 30, 2009
Notre Dame job comes with issues
By Ivan Maisel ESPN.com
Notre Dame is going to hear "No" a few times before it hears a yes.
The Fighting Irish have tradition and history and a pulpit that remains as bully as any in college football. Notre Dame has a national network and a national fan base that expects to be BCS-worthy. The facilities are as good as any in the country.
Coaches appreciate all that stuff as long as they have the players to win. Any prospective Notre Dame head coach who analyzes the roster -- and every single one of them will -- is going to think twice before going there.
If Jimmy Clausen departs for the NFL, the Notre Dame job gets even more difficult.
The Irish say goodbye to 33 seniors after their bowl game. They also, in all likelihood, will say goodbye to the two most productive players on the team, junior quarterback Jimmy Clausen and junior wide receiver Golden Tate.
There is one other scholarship quarterback on the roster. Sophomore Dayne Crist suffered a knee injury at midseason and won't be at full speed, if he's at any speed at all, in spring practice.
The new coach has a massive rebuilding job, and his fan base, if experience is any judge, won't be patient during construction. That's not a scenario that attracts coaches.
Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds told me earlier this fall that, when replacing a coach, most schools react to fix the current problem rather than stepping back to consider the whole picture. Notre Dame's biggest problem is defense. It's likely that athletic director Jack Swarbrick will look for a defensive head coach who has won championships.
The coach whose name has come up most often in recent days, Brian Kelly of Cincinnati, is an offensive guy. Ditto for Paul Johnson of Georgia Tech. Although both have proved they can win championships, neither is known for defense. Of Cincinnati's three victories in November, two came by scores of 47-45 and 49-36.
If defense and championships are the goal, Swarbrick will call Bob Stoops of Oklahoma. When Stoops says no to Swarbrick -- as he has to every media question about Notre Dame -- Swarbrick will look elsewhere. Gary Patterson of TCU? Butch Davis of North Carolina? Has Pat Fitzgerald of Northwestern won enough?
The well of defensive-minded head coaches who are available and understand the magnitude of the job and would be willing to start at the very, very beginning is a shallow one.
It is still Notre Dame and all that being Notre Dame entails. But this job is not as attractive as it might seem. Now we find out how good a salesman Swarbrick can be.
Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for ESPN.com and hosts the ESPNU College Football podcast. Send your questions and comments to Ivan at Ivan.Maisel@ESPN3.com.