Who Could Replace Brian Kelly?

It is as if the Irish can not catch a break. After years of bad coaching hires and mediocre football, South Bend woke up the echoes this past season when they completed an undefeated regular season under head coach Brian Kelly. Now, just a few days after Notre Dame's first national championship in decades, the program may have to replace the man who led them there. Brian Kelly has interviewed with the Philadelphia Eagles and it is rumored that there is a strong mutual interest between the two parties. If Brian Kelly does bolt to the NFL, athletic director Jack Swarbrick will be tasked with replacing the first coach to lead Notre Dame to the number one spot in the polls since Lou Holtz. In this article, we will take a look at who would be in contention for the Notre Dame job.

Bob Stoops, Oklahoma Head Coach

Before you all roll your eyes about Bob Stoops being mentioned, as he is with seemingly every coaching vacancy, this time around Stoops may seriously consider the Irish.  Stoops

[caption id="attachment_392" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Stoops has long been rumored as a candidate for Notre Dame"]Stoops[/caption]

has been at OU since 1999. That is incredible longevity in college football, and there have been rumblings that his tenure has grown stale in Norman. A coach's message can only last so long at one university. Stoops has the pedigree to be successful, having won a national championship in 2000 and studying under coaching greats Bill Snyder and Steve Spurrier. His overall record as a head coach is an impressive 149-36, losing a mere five times at home. He would bring with him excellent ties to southern states which are often critical in recruiting, as they are talent hot beds that the Irish would love to recruit.

Kirby Smart, Alabama Defensive Coordinator

Smart orchestrated the dominant defense that has helped win Alabama three national championships in the last four years. With an already talented defense, Smart may be able to coach the Irish into being a consistently defensively dominant team. Smart lacks

[caption id="attachment_394" align="alignright" width="145" caption="Smart is a hot name on the coaching carousel"]Smart[/caption]

the head coaching pedigree that many Irish fans yearn for after the failed Charlie Weis experiment, so that could work against him. However, his track record speaks for itself and he seems primed to make the jump to a head coaching position after flirting with Auburn. Smart could follow the footsteps of Florida's Will Muschamp and be the next coordinator to become head coach at a premier program. Alabama consistently gets top talent, and Smart could likely use his ties to SEC country to supply Notre Dame with top tier talent.

Charlie Strong, Louisville Head Coach

Strong recently signed a long extension with Louisville, but he would be ideal for the Irish. He has coached at Notre Dame before so it is likely that he has some fondness or

[caption id="attachment_395" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Strong is no stranger to Notre Dame. Or winning. "]Strong[/caption]

connection to the University. Strong just led the basketball school Louisville to a BCS bowl victory over the University of Florida. For him to be able to lead a Big East school to a victory over a dominant SEC school is impressive, and something the Irish certainly will need to emulate if they want to win a national championship anytime soon. After the debacle with Ty Willingham, many of the black alumni and fans of the Irish would be overjoyed to see a successful and capable black man in place as leader of the Fighting Irish. Strong is young and full of energy, he could maintain the positive vibes in South Bend if he were hired.

David Shaw, Stanford Head Coach

Coming from Stanford, another University with high academic standards, Shaw seems like a natural candidate for the job at Notre Dame. Stanford gave Notre Dame a run for their money this year, and figures to be a force in the 2013 season. It is likely that Notre

[caption id="attachment_396" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Coming from Stanford, Shaw is a natural candidate for Notre Dame"]Shaw[/caption]

Dame would win immediately if they hired Shaw, as he runs a similar, physical style of football that is currently in place in South Bend. Shaw was offensive coordinator before becoming head coach and spent a lot of time with rookie sensation Andrew Luck. This would appeal to Notre Dame fans because, well, who wouldn't want someone like Luck to be their quarterback. Shaw could come in and develop a very talented offense to be paired with an already lethal defense. Shaw, like Strong, would make many people happy if hired because of his minority status.

Chuck Martin, Notre Dame Offense Coordinator

Martin would be the safe choice as the next Notre Dame head coach. He is currently on the staff and it is likely he would retain many of the assistants currently involved at the

[caption id="attachment_397" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Martin would be a solid hire for the Irish"]Martin[/caption]

University. This is a huge positive factor for Martin, as it is likely that he could retain the Irish's star-studded recruiting class. He does have head coaching experience and this would not be his first time following behind Brian Kelly. Martin posted an impressive 74-7 record as head coach of Grand Valley State. He already has connections to the University so it is likely he would at least get an interview.

Notre Dame is coming off its best season in recent history. When Notre Dame is good, the draw that it has is unparalleled. Should Brian Kelly decide to leave the Irish, Jack Swarbrick should not have to look too hard for a suitable replacement.

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