Everyone is weighing in on who should be Notre Dame's next football coach. Here is hoping that the Irish take their time, do their homework and make the right decision. After making a string of bad choices in recent years, it is important that they get this one right.
Cincinnati's Brian Kelly appears to be the favorite, now that Bob Stoops and Urban Meyer have been ruled out. I've never met him. But he isn't my choice. Why? Kelly isn't a proven recruiter. He has never signed a top prospect. He has developed some good players, to be sure, but he reminds me of former TCU coach Dennis Franchione. After making a reputation at TCU, he proved not to be so good at Alabama and Texas A&M and got fired.
When you get to Notre Dame, it's a different ballgame. You are up against the elite teams when it comes to recruiting...Florida, Texas, Alabama, USC, Ohio State. There is no homegrown talent in Indiana. You have to be a national recruiter.
In my view, the most important thing isn't to hire the best coach but to hire the coach who can hire the best staff, a bunch of hungry and aggressive and personable and highly paid assistant coaches like Tennessee's Lane Kiffin, Alabama's Nick Saban and Florida's Urban Meyer have assembled. They are more important than a head coach.
My choice to restore Notre Dame to BCS stature is Iowa's Kirk Ferentz.
Ferentz recruits big-time players and he is a proven winner in a state that has no high school talent at all. He develops great players. He does all you need to be a successful head coach. Of course, he would have to change his staff. He must hire a national staff that can attract the best players in the country.
Tyrone Willingham made a big mistake by bringing in a West Coast staff that floundered around the country. Charlie Weis didn't know any of the nine assistants he had on his staff when he arrived in South Bend.
There are some other worthy candidates.
Texas Tech's Mike Leach is a proven winner. He beat Oklahoma this year and Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Kansas and Missouri last year before losing to Oklahoma. He wins with a high powered offense. Texas Tech also has the highest graduation rate in the Big 12 Conference. And he recruits in Lubbock, Texas, of all places. But he is a Mormon, which might not fly at Notre Dame.
Temple's Al Golden was the golden boy of recruiting at Penn State and Virginia. Charlie Weis tried to hire him as defensive coordinator at Notre Dame but then Virginia coach Al Groh wouldn't let Weis talk to him.
Also Stanford's Jim Harbaugh, a fanatical recruiter. His players are tough, like he is. He is the golden boy of young coaches, where Stoops and Meyer were eight years ago. He could be at Michigan in a few years. He has winner written all over him.