The Charlie Weis era appears to be over in South Bend.
After losing another close game to Stanford the buzzards are circling even closer to the ground. Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said he's not contacted anyone about the possibility of replacing Weis and is meeting with Humpty Dumpty over the next two days to evaluate the program. It would seem that Weis has little chance to retain the head coaching position. His record is among the worst all-time for Notre Dame coaches, and the media & most fans have decided his fate. At this point the storied football program is known more now for the drama of Charlie Weis than for solid, winning football. Weis has an enormous buyout on his contract though and he has said he will not resign. Moreover, the perfect candidate to take over the program may not be out there right now. It will be interesting to see how Swarbrick proceeds.
What we know at this point is that numerous coaching wish lists have been posted to numerous websites; ESPN analysts (Mark May and others) have openly weighed in on who will succeed Weis and not surprisingly Kirk Ferentz's name is being mentioned as a possible candidate. So, one has to ask whether Sir Kirk would even consider leaving the land of Soy to work in the fishbowl that is Notre Dame?
To begin to consider this question let's briefly compare the two programs during Kirk Ferentz's time at Iowa (1999 to present).
Wins and Losses
Iowa is 80-55 (4-3 in bowl games)
Notre Dame 75-59 (1-6 in bowl games)
Iowa has 7
Notre Dame has 5
Notre Dame has played in 2 BCS bowl games (Fiesta Bowl twice) and lost both.
Iowa has played 1 BCS bowl game (Orange Bowl) and lost.
Final A.P. Top 25
Iowa - 5 times (I'm assuming they end up there this year), 3 times in the Top 10
Notre Dame - 4 times, 1 time in the Top 10
Since 1999 Ferentz has brought more success to Iowa in terms of wins and losses than have Bob Davie, Ty Willingham and Charlie Weis to Notre Dame. But, Notre Dame is still very much an elite college football program. Notre Dame is high profile and has played every game on national television (ABC, CBS, NBC or ESPN) during the time span in question with the vast majority played on NBC. They have a national following that ensures a full stadium every time and everywhere they play. Notre Dame's facilities are considered among the best in the country. Notre Dame is able to recruit nationally. So while expectations are considerably higher at Notre Dame than they are at most schools, and certainly greater than at Iowa, the resources are clearly in place for a good coach to have great success.
It has been reported that Jack Swarbrick would prefer to replace Weis with a defense minded coach who has a proven track record at the collegiate level. There are the cultural ideals as well, as Swarbrick is likely to want someone who understands Notre Dame's mission as a university. Thus, he wants a Catholic, alum and/or a coach who has worked at Notre Dame.
Does Kirk Ferentz fit the bill to be Notre Dame's next head coach?
- He's a Catholic but has never coached at Notre Dame or attended the school.
- He is a proven winner.
- He is not technically a defensive coach but has been deemed a head coach who appreciates strong defensive play first and foremost.
- He has been at Iowa for 11 seasons, which some say is a long time in contemporary college football. He might be due for a change.
- He makes a Top 10 salary but it is safe to say the next head coach at Notre Dame will be paid equal to Ferentz's salary or (more likely) higher.
There is one problem for a possible Ferentz candidacy though: Notre Dame fans seem to be unenthusiastic at the notion of a Ferentz tenure at Notre Dame. Ferentz is not a big personality or well known to the Notre Dame fanbase.
But, just to carry out this hypothetical, who would Iowa seek out to replace Ferentz should he be offered the Notre Dame job....and accept it?