With Notre Dame giving Head Football Coach Charlie Weis his walking papers Monday the search has officially begun to fill the most scrutinized, high profile job in all of college football. With top college coaches such as Urban Meyer and Bob Stoops turning down the job before being offered it, Notre Dame must do it’s homework during this selection process. I think there is one man who should be sitting atop the pile after Notre Dame sifts through all of the potential candidates.
Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly would be at the top of my list for not only Notre Dame but for any coaching job in America. In three full years at Cincinnati he has won double digit games every season and his Bearcats are on their way to winning their second straight Big East Title. Before the 2007 season when Kelly took over as Cincinnati’s full time head coach the school only had one 10-win season in the 122 years they had been playing football (and that lone 10-win season was back in 1951).
In just three seasons Kelly has turned a middle of the road Big East program into a national powerhouse going 33-6 including a trip to the Orange Bowl in 2008 and they are well on their way to a second consecutive BCS Bowl Game this season.
Brian Kelly is also a veteran collegiate coach with nineteen years of head coaching experience but at 48 is still young enough to build and maintain a national powerhouse in South Bend for the next few decades.
In addition Coach Kelly is a first-rate recruiter that runs a high powered, pro style offense that would help him bring in top recruiting classes year in and year out to Notre Dame. Perhaps more impressive than his ability to recruit top talent is Kelly’s ability to find and develop talent that can excel in his system. Something that I think was glaringly obvious during Charlie Weis’ reign in South Bend was the fact that he could recruit top players but they never seemed to come together into a cohesive unit and very rarely did they improve during their career at Notre Dame.
The tipping point for Kelly may be his 4-2 record against ranked opponents during his tenure at Cincinnati. One of the biggest knocks on Charlie Weis was his 5-12 record against ranked opponents.
If I were Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick my search would start and immediately stop with Brian Kelly. With that being said it may be pointless to even discuss other candidates but there is always the possibility that Kelly wouldn’t be interested in operating under the very intense microscope of Notre Dame. There is another candidate that has arisen over the past week or so that I think is very interesting and is part of the WNST family.
Brian Billick has carried a lot of different monikers throughout his coaching career including offensive genius, arrogant jerk, and Super Bowl Champion; but will Notre Dame Head Coach be next?
Coach Billick certainly would come to South Bend with the pedigree, vocabulary, and name recognition that would really work in South Bend but the bigger question is would he be able to win at the college level?
In my opinion yes; Coach Billick has the type of charisma that would make him a monster in the living room. I could easily see him become the best recruiter in the country; a title that USC’s Pete Carol may not be so quick to give up. But Billick has a personality that I think high school seniors would just eat up and it wouldn’t hurt that he has coached players such as Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, two guys many young players idolize and attempt to emulate.
Coach Billick also has done something that neither Brian Kelly, Bob Stoops, nor Urban Meyer has and that is lead a team to a Super Bowl Championship as a head coach. Believe me it will not be lost on impressible young men that this man in their living room lead a team to a Super Bowl Championship and will really give him immediate clout in the recruiting wars.
While I believe Coach Billick would crush other teams on the recruiting trail I think people would be a little more hesitant to say he would be the best X’s and O’s coach in the nation. But that has never been Billick’s profile; as a head coach he was more of a team manager while he surrounded himself with the top coaching talent in the business. The Billick coaching tree is one of the most expansive and impressive in recent memory this side of Mike Holmgren.
If Coach Billick is allowed to bring in a full compliment of hand picked assistants he could have Notre Dame winning on the field quicker than people would expect.
I know a lot of people are questioning if Notre Dame Head Football Coach Brian Billick is a good idea but in my humble opinion not only is it a good idea….it is a GREAT idea!
In the end I think that Notre Dame goes with Brian Kelly and that is the correct choice but if for some reason they go in another direction I think Brian Billick would be an amazing addition to Notre Dame and a great loss for Baltimore.