Notre Dame football coach searches tend to be crazy // UHND.com


No one thought Notre Dame football would undergo a coaching change this offseason, although Jack Swarbrick says he’s not surprised Brian Kelly is gone. Now that we are, however, it’s a good time to remember that the searches for football coaches at Notre Dame tend to be crazy, and in the last three there has been at least one ridiculous story. and hard to believe that happened. Fortunately, this time it isn’t, but history has proven otherwise.

If you only remember Brian Kelly’s research, or were even too young to remember it since 12 years ago, let’s step back in time to look back at the ridiculousness that surrounded the research of Notre-Dame head coaches.

In December 2001, after Notre Dame fired Bob Davie, it looked like they had a replacement straight out of the central cast. Then Georgia Tech head coach George O’Leary, an Irish Catholic with a proven track record as a varsity head coach in a high-profile program, looked too perfect on paper. It turns out he was.

O’Leary lied on his coaching resume years and years ago about a master’s degree he never got. A pretty innocent thing to do for someone trying to break through the coaching ranks as an untested coach. It ultimately cost him the post at Notre Dame after a tenure that only lasted a few days. Today it seems crazy to think that something like this would cost a coach a head coaching job – especially the job of their dreams – but that’s what happened 20 years ago. with Notre Dame and O’Leary.

After resigning from Notre Dame, O’Leary joined UCF in 2004 and compiled an 81-68 record, including a 12-1 record with a Fiesta Bowl victory in 2013.

After the O’Leary fiasco, Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden was believed to be the guy from Notre Dame. The momentum built up over several days before there were scattered reports that Notre Dame and Gruden had reached an agreement to be refuted hours later. Legend has it that Gruden wanted to finish the NFL season before taking over at Notre Dame, but notoriously bitter Oakland owner Al Davis wouldn’t let him, so he stayed with the Raiders and won the Super Bowl a few months later.

Notre Dame hired Tyrone Willingham weeks later in a move that would never fly these days – waiting until the end of December to appoint a head coach. There was no early signing period at the time, and early engagements were still rare as December and January were recruiting months.

After Notre Dame sacked Willingham three years later, Notre Dame infamously flew the private jet to Salt Lake City, Utah, to sign Urban Meyer as the next head coach at Notre Dame. Reports showed the Irish contingent was landing in Utah, but Meyer told them he accepted the main post in Florida, where he won two national titles. Notre Dame’s top brass found themselves with an egg to their face as they walked home without a head coach and started their search all over again from scratch.

Gruden’s father was an assistant at Notre Dame in the 1970s under Dan Devine, and Gruden grew up in South Bend as a fan of Notre Dame. Gruden even told Playboy magazine that he lost his virginity because of the Notre Dame fight song playing in his head. Since the alleged shutdown in 2002, Gruden has since been a dream candidate for some Notre Dame fans. Given his recent off-field issues that forced him to resign with the Las Vegas Raiders, he likely won’t be a candidate this time around.

Finally, during the coaching search that produced Brian Kelly, there were many rumors of suspected interest in the position of Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops. No official report from Stoops negotiating with Notre Dame or interested was developed, but there was widespread speculation that Notre Dame and Stoops had a mutual interest for a few days. This speculation turned out to be false. Yet during a few days of the nearly two-week search that ended with Brian Kelly accepting the position at Notre Dame, there was a lot of Stoops to Notre Dame gossip.

So what crazy, wild story is going to unfold this time around? Meyer has thankfully already denied any interest in going back to college, so it’s out the window. On the other hand, Luke Fickell did a no denial, a denial of interest in the job so that we could have fun. Either way, there’s almost always a crazy, out of left field, and crazy story that pops up when looking for coaches at Notre Dame.


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