Five potential Notre Dame coaching candidates to clean up Brian Kelly's mess


After the mess of the past 24 hours, it’s easy to forget that Notre Dame still might have a College Football Playoff game.

Depending how things fall this weekend, the Irish could be playing for a national title in the coming weeks. Of course, Brian Kelly won’t be coaching them if they reach that stage — it’s unclear who will be. Despite Kelly’s unceremonious departure, the job is still one of the most prestigious in college football.

It may not be $100 million, but Notre Dame has the money, the history and the facilities to make a splash in the market. Here are some potential candidates for the job after Kelly left for LSU:

Marcus Freeman, defensive coordinator, Notre Dame

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Marcus Freeman is a potential candidate for the Notre Dame job

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At 35, Freeman is young and has the recruiting pedigree necessary to win at a place like Notre Dame. Despite only five years of experience as a coordinator, 2021 being his first at Notre Dame, Freeman is a hot candidate in this cycle. The Athletic has already reported that Kelly wants to bring him to LSU and make him the highest-paid coordinator in college football. (Kelly has also reportedly reached out to Notre Dame offensive coordinator Tommy Rees).

Certainly Freeman is an obvious candidate if AD Jack Swarbrick names an interim coach for the bowl game. That could function as an audition.

Or, he could be in Baton Rouge by Wednesday.

Luke Fickell, head coach, Cincinnati

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Luke Fickell is a potential candidate for the Notre Dame job

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Michigan State couldn’t get Fickell to leave Cincinnati, but can Notre Dame?

It would be a short move for Fickell, who has coached his entire career in the state of Ohio. Even with Cincinnati entering the Big 12 and on the cusp of the College Football Playoff, Notre Dame would be a step up with a higher ceiling and presumably a raise. Among outside candidates, Fickell is by far the most obvious name Swarbrick would likely be looking at.

One big question here: If Cincinnati beats Houston in the AAC title game this weekend and locks in a playoff spot, would Fickell want to wait until after the CFP to discuss the Notre Dame job? And would the Irish be willing to wait for him?

Matt Campbell, head coach, Iowa State

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Matt Campbell is a potential candidate for the Notre Dame job

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Campbell’s name has cooled a bit in this coaching cycle after a disappointing 7-5 year for the Cyclones. But he’s still the guy who made Iowa State a relevant program nationally.

He has Midwestern pedigree and has likely reached his ceiling at Iowa State. That makes him a reasonable fit, if Notre Dame is willing to look past his 2021 record.

Jeff Brohm, head coach, Purdue

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Jeff Brohm is a potential candidate for the Notre Dame job

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Brohm has Purdue at 8-4 this year and could soon be in line for an upgrade. He’s a strong offensive mind who’s currently coaching in Notre Dame’s own state, so it’s easy to see the fit.

But there are a few potential snags. This year will be just a third bowl appearance in five years for Brohm at Purdue and he reportedly has one of the best contracts in the nation.

Urban Meyer, head coach, Jacksonville Jaguars

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Urban Meyer is a potential candidate for the Notre Dame job

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Is it realistic? Probably not. Is it a cultural fit? Definitely not.

Plus a source told ESPN,com that Meyer remains committed to the Jaguars, despite a rocky first season.

But would Meyer turn Notre Dame into a death star that could compete for national titles every year? Yes. And hey, Lincoln Riley and Brian Kelly both bolting playoff contenders within 24 hours didn’t seem realistic either.

So all we’re saying is, if Swarbrick isn’t at least giving Meyer a courtesy call, he’s probably making a mistake.

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