A disappointing November has re-ignited the debate about whether it is time to move on from Brian Kelly. Understandably, the fanbase seems divided on this issue. But if Notre Dame is going to beat Tennessee to hiring Jon Gruden, the time to act is now. Sure, Jon Gruden’s been the right man for the job from 2002-2016, but is that still true in 2017?
To find out, I asked some of the smartest, most level-headed ND fans I know the pressing questions to figure out who should be Notre Dame’s next head coach (spoiler: I know about 5 people). The search committee panel includes: BayouIrish, NDTex, and IrishElvis. With names like those, I’m sure their recommendations will be good.
The first thing I asked the panel to define was how good a job Notre Dame is. Gentlemen, what say you:
Tex: It’s THE job. The fact we need a committee to find THE guy is, quite frankly, an outright assault on Our Lady’s University and proof this administration has been lost ever since Monk Molly did his damnedest to remove any all sense of pride, history, and prestige in this program.
Bayou: How good a job is ND? The right question is “Is Notre Dame really a job?” The right answer, of course, is “no, it is a calling.” Nowhere else does one have the opportunity to coach, recruit, fund-raise, AND ensure that the program promotes the school’s Catholic mission.
IrishElvis: The best. This job has ALL the benefits: new stadium and practice facilities (that somehow also compromise the school’s Catholic character), a rabid/loyal/irrational/geriatric fanbase, a stated ideal to uphold academic standards, and a truly national schedule without any scrimmages masquerading as D-II opponents. Simultaneously, it’s free from all the drawbacks: constant ESPN fawning, state finances that dump truckloads of cash directly into the football program at the expense of other athletics or even the University as a whole, and sunny weather that diverts players’ attention in those poor non-Midwestern locales.
Needless to say, the panel is bullish on ND’s current status. Their answers varied like colors of The Shirt, but there was a common thread that ran throughout: make us buy into something new each and every year. I next asked them to explain what the program’s most pressing need is:
Bayou: Better name recognition. Today’s top-flight coaches and players aren’t going to waste their time on a program that isn’t on a major channel, home or away, that isn’t part of the radio program circuit, and that doesn’t absorb one’s and zero’s on the internet.
IrishElvis: Win all the games, even practices, by a big score. Don’t care too much about graduating players, unless you care too little about graduating players — because then everyone will be angry with you.
Tex: A National Championship–nothing less will do. By the way, the time limit is three years. Any Notre Dame coach worth a damn did that. And there better not be any signs of rebuilding either. Hit the ground running, and I mean the literal running game, or get the hell out of the way for the next guy.
Bayou’s answer confused me at first, and then I recalled he was the only panelist to submit his response via Western Union. The guy is old school though, which is why he wouldn’t pass on answering the question. Elvis and Tex both homed in on the clear answer – Notre Dame simply needs to stop losing games. After all, you can’t spell “F-I-R-E_K-E-L-LY” if you’ve got no L’s.
One of the enduring debates in any coaching search is who is your ideal candidate? Do you want the tried and true head coach with gobs of big game experience and title or 7 (because there are a LOT of these just itching to take less money and live in Granger, IN)? Do you re-try the Kelly route: head coach with lots of success at lower levels who’s ready for the bright lights of America’s #1 Independent Catholic football program? What about a young assistant? If young, how young? Alive for the Dan Devine Natty? Alive for the Holtz Natty? Or even younger…someone who truly stops and pauses to consider if Evan Sharpley is the best ND quarterback of his lifetime?
IrishElvis: I want someone with experience, but someone who’s young and relatable. We need a good mind — like a coordinator — but someone who has an executive presence. Also, someone who knows how to be passionate and rile up the team…but not in a way that’s visible on the sideline during nationally-televised games.
Tex: Notre Dame is not a place for on-the-job training. Seriously, imagine trying to build a national powerhouse on anything less than a proven record of head coaching success at the Power Five level. It would be like hiring a coach just because he was a good football player. Rockne would roll over in his grave.
Bayou’s game for anything. He may actually be fine with just pulling Rockne out of the grave. IrishElvis is a bit more selective. I feel more confident (though not certain) he would prefer a coach presently alive and ready for a challenge. Tex has perhaps given us a sneak peak at his eventual recommendation. But, before we get to their recs, one more topic to address…
There is no sub-set of human existence where visor wearing is more tolerated. Well, maybe beach volleyball. But I’ve heard the Kerri Walsh Jennings isn’t available, and the next Summer Olympics are scheduled to occur in year three of our new coach’s campaign anyways. What does our panel want? A visor wearer or not?
Tex: Further proof that this administration is lost. The question should be “Tie or no tie?” because a suit is the true attire of a winner. Imagine the success a team like Miami would have if someone roamed the sidelines in a suit as God intended.
Now, he’s at least seeing the light with the collared shirt. It’s no coincidence that back-to-back Elite Eights followed. If he would commit to the tie, a real banner would hang in the JACC again.
I mean, imagine if Brey went out on the court in similar attire as his players as football coaches these days have seen fit to do!
Bayou: Show me a man who wears half a hat, and I’ll show you half a man.
IrishElvis: Brian Kelly is a mediocre coach, and I blame his choice of headwear. And his playcalling. And his decision to hire Brian VanGorder. Look at Rockne & Leahy — they knew how to rock a fedora en route to winning (on natural grass, mind you!). Davie and Weis went bare-headed, which is right out. But even Lou (deep, wistful sigh) wore a proper ballcap, which made for a good act when he got angry. If you have a visor, all you have is a purple face to make your point. So I say “no visor” with strong consideration to anyone who agrees to wear a bowler on the sideline.
Tex suggested that the correct question was “T[y] or no T[y]” and then later claimed even more success could be had if [ND] would “commit to the T[y].” While I won’t question Tex’s integriTY, I am giving strong consideration to a hostile removal of him from the search committee.
I think IrishElvis may be on to something, but I’m extremely concerned that if ND opts to hire anyone who wears a fedora or bowler that our new head coach will also have skinny jeans, a pocket watch, suspenders, and his most complicated play call will be his morning coffee order…HOW DID I PICK THIS COMMITTEE AGAIN??? Gentlemen, please redeem yourselves with some great candidates:
Bayou: Former Ireland and Manchester United great, Roy Keane. He of the famous quote, directed at his then national coach, “Mick, you’re a liar… you’re a fucking wanker. I didn’t rate you as a player, I don’t rate you as a manager, and I don’t rate you as a person. You’re a fucking wanker and you can stick your World Cup up your arse. The only reason I have any dealings with you is that somehow you are the manager of my country! You can stick it up your bollocks.” Purple face really that bad?
Moons Note: Go back and read Bayou’s answers now…honestly, I think he stuck right with his formula!
IrishElvis: In summation, we need someone who’s good with media, who’s a good cheerleader, who’s not bothered by cold weather, and who lets his coordinators do their jobs instead of jumping in and muddling things up. Oh, and someone with proven experience running Michigan into the ground.
Our next coach should be Brady Hoke.
Moons Note: Ummm….this may be a little too on the nose for what the fans have been clamoring for…
Tex: Bob Stoops and he should’ve been hired last season. Not sure how much clearer he needs to make it to this administration that he wants the job. Why else would he resign from Oklahoma and buy a house nearby in Chicago if he didn’t want the job?
After all, Bob’s heart is truly under the Dome and Irish fans will welcome him with open arms. All he has to do is win big games and the stress level will remain low. I have no doubt that Bob can do that. After all, why else would they call him “Big Game Bob”?
Moons Note: If an ND coaching search article doesn’t include the name Bob Stoops, does it really even exist?
The Committee Recommends: STEVE SPURRIER
The man checks all of the boxes:
1. Experience? You better believe it! Spurrier’s 228 wins is more than the career win totals of Bob Davie, Ty Willingham, and Charlie Weis combined. He’s even got a couple of ties for Tex.
2. Championship? Hell to the yes. And he did it while making Danny Wuerffel a Heisman winner. Just imagine what he can do with someone like Brandon Wimbush? And heck, if he can’t, Spurrier’s not shy about pulling his quarterback…over, and over, and over again. He’s like Twitter’s dream child. PULL WIMBUSH!! You got it! Oh crap! Book threw a pick 6! PULL BOOK! You got it! Montgomery VanGorder, you get your ass out there.
3. If there’s one thing positive to come out of the last few weeks, it’s been Maui Mike Brey. People loved Brey’s t-shirt and shorts look. They loved his shirtless celebration look even more. Notre Dame is ready to embrace a coach who shows up to work looking like this:
While the visor thing was more of a toss up for our committee, Spurrier’s propensity to toss the visor means he’s only a half commitment to it anyways. People seem over the purple face thing, but I’ve not heard any negative remarks concerning projectile throwing…so long as it’s not the football.
4. He’s coached 6 years more recently than Herm Edwards. Who is also apparently still viable as a head coach.
5. He’s not Brian Kelly
6. He is ready to troll UGA in 2019. After all, he had this to say about playing them early in the season: “I sort of always liked playing them that second game because you could always count on them having two or three key players suspended.” I won’t tell him that UGA’s game 3 if you promise not to.
7. He’s an Octogenarian*, which should appeal to ND’s aging fan base. Spurrier’s reputation also was one who viewed even big time college football as more a 9-5 job than as a 24/7 thing. That 9-5 mentality should very much appeal to those with Chicago dinner reservations. He should not get in the way of Sunday services either as he will be on the 6th green by the time his players are due at mass.
-*he’s not actually, but I bet you had to look.
And with that, the HLS Search Committee is ready to invoice Notre Dame for 12 million dollars. See y’all in the gold seats!