Wednesday, December 01, 2004


Willingham's tenure was too short, the next coach has to deliver

Everyone agrees that Ty Willingham didn't get a fair shot at turning around a Notre Dame program with only 3 years under his belt. However, the fact is that all will be forgotten if the next coach takes Notre Dame to the promised land. Urban Meyer is the best and most obvious choice to lead the Fighting Irish next season. The big poobahs who made the decision to fire Willingham surely have a plan to bring in the young heralded coach who led the Utah Utes to an 11-0 record and a BCS bowl. If AD Kevin White fails to nab Coach Meyer he will have egg on his face (again, recall George O'Leary).

MSNBC: Unless Notre Dame nickel-and-dimes Meyer in negotiations, he’s headed to South Bend. The Irish administration can’t afford to lose him. In fact, the opportunity to get Meyer probably had a lot to do with Willingham’s sudden exit.

Meyer makes $500,000 per at Utah. Florida certainly will offer three to four times that. If the Irish are in that ballpark, he’ll be in blue and gold next season.

Meyer has a good biography. He's from Ohio and grew up a fan of the Notre Dame program. He was an assistant in South Bend for 5 years under both Lou Holtz and Bob Davie - therefore, he saw what worked and what didn't work at Notre Dame Stadium.

It is clear that Urban Meyer is passionate, desperately wants to win and is young enough to have the energy to endure a grueling and thankless job.

Ty Willingham deserves praise from Notre Dame fans for doing the best job he could considering the circumstances and short tenure. We'll always wonder what he would have produced had he stayed for at least 5 years. Willingham earned another head coaching position at a high profile program. He didn't wilt under the pressure at Notre Dame. Maybe he'll return to Stanford.

Tampa Tribune: Meyer may get the chance to implement that hard-edged style in a place where the stadium is always filled, where there's a state full of blue-chip talent, where the pressure is enormous.

Make no mistake, Utah is not Notre Dame. It is not Florida.

``I can't sit here, look you in the face and say that type of scrutiny exists at Utah,'' Meyer said. ``It's changing. I'm not going to say you can win 10 [games each season] because that's hard. But you can win seven or eight [each season]. Not many places can say that. For the most part, people in Utah are happy with everything you do. If you're 9-0 at Ohio State, they're wondering why you're not running the ball more.

``But I love that, too. I love the pageantry of a place like Notre Dame. I love the bands and the excitement. It gives you goose bumps. It's why you coach.''

Leaving for a bigger, better job may not be a done deal, either. It's intriguing to know a BCS bid can be earned at a place like Utah. There's intermittent talk of Utah joining an expanded Pac-10, but for now, it's just talk.

There also are family concerns. Shelley Meyer doesn't want to leave the West again. She knows her husband's contract allows him to leave for Notre Dame, Ohio State or Michigan - no penalty assessed - and she's resigned to the fact most coaching families move often.

Pat Forde: Notre Dame wants to be a football factory
Ivan Maisel: Fall from Grace
Pat Forde: Coaches List
Kirk Herbstreit: Not Enough Time

Fox Sports
Matt Hayes: Notre Dame needs to go big
Matthew Zemek: Coaching carousel

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