Kelly was adamant about staying put at Notre Dame a week ago. After LSU approached him with a 15 million dollar per year contract, he hopped on board.
Here are some candidates to be the next head coach in South Bend.
Examining the Job
Contrary to popular belief, Notre Dame is among the nation’s elite programs. Historically, Notre Dame has the 3rd most wins all-time in CFB history, and they have 11 national titles to show for it.
Recent blunders in the CFP have shined a negative light on Notre Dame. Why? I am not sure. The Irish have won at least 10 games in each of the last five seasons, and advanced to the playoffs twice. Regardless of what people on social media may tell you, this is absolutely something that only happens at elite programs.
Losing Brian Kelly is a blow to the Irish, especially during the middle of a loaded coaching carousel season. Thankfully, Notre Dame is a blueblood program that will naturally draw some attention nationally.
Cincinnatti HC Luke Fickell
Fickell is on the brink of leading the Bearcats to their first college football playoff birth in school history, which would make them the first GO5 school to make it that far.
The Ohio State career has spent the majority of his career on staff at Ohio State. Fickell slowly rose from a position coach to CO-DC, and was even the interim head coach for the Buckeyes in 2011 after Jim Tressel resigned.
Fickell was named the head coach for the Bearcats in 2017. After going 4-8 in his first season, the program has risen to new heights, going 43-6 since then.
Fickell is one of the best coaches in CFB at a somewhat smaller school, so his name gets thrown around in a lot of searches. With Cincy joining the Big 12 soon, he might not be so hesitant to leave. However, if he does, Notre Dame could be a program that has the power to do so.
Jacksonville Jaguars HC Urban Meyer
Meyer has received some negative attention both on and off the field since being named the HC at Jacksonville. So much so, that some believe there is a chance that he bolts back to the CFB ranks.
In his prime, Meyer was one of the best coaches in CFB. He won national championships at both Florida and Ohio State, and was still winning big upon his retirement.
LSU and USC both made some rather shocking hires, so nothing will shock me anymore. If Meyer wants to return to the college ranks and the Irish want him, then surely he would be hard to turn down.
Notre Dame DC Marcus Freeman
According to many, Freeman is considered one of the best assistants in CFB. So much so, that chances are he will probably be a head coach sooner rather than later.
At 35 years old, the former Ohio State LB was Luke Fickell’s DC from 2017-2020. Following a 2020 season where the Bearcat defense gave up just 16.8 PPG, Freeman was instantly labeled as one of the best DCs in the game and garnered national attention.
There was a belief that Freeman might have been tied to the LSU DC opening, but ultimately he decided to join Brian Kelly’s staff.
After one year, Freeman has already put himself in a position to be the next HC of a blueblood program. That should show you how respected Freeman is.
Iowa State HC Matt Campbell
Matt Campbell has turned Iowa State into one of the better programs in the Big 12. Any coach that can do that should receive tons of national attention.
Luke Fickell, Campbell has been mentioned in almost every coaching search. In fact, he has even mentioned in some NFL head coaching opportunities this past offseason.
In a year where that coaching carousel has had major twists and turns, the Irish are going to want a big name. Campbell might not be Urban Meyer or Luke Fickell, but he is one of the best CFB coaches in the country and would make waves if he were to be hired at a program like Notre Dame.
Wake Forest HC Dave Clawson
In the year of the coaching carousel, not everyone is going to go out and get a big name. That doesn’t mean that you can’t get a good coach, and that is where Dave Clawson comes in.
Since 2014, Clawson has been slowly but surely building the Wake Forest program to the level they are today. Now, that work has seemed to pay off as the 10-2 Demon Deacons are in a position to win the ACC title.
One thing to note, Clawson is just making 2.1 million a year. Notre Dame could absolutely afford that, and match whatever Wake Forest is willing to throw at Clawson if they wish.