Message Board

ESPN Auctions
Sunday, December 2
Updated: December 4, 6:18 PM ET
Candidate list a who's who of coaching

Love it or hate it, Notre Dame is one of the marquee jobs in college football and will attract some of the best names in the coaching business. Here's a rundown of some of the most probable candidates to coach the Fighting Irish:

George O'Leary, Georgia Tech
Pros: Officials from Notre Dame met Saturday with George O'Leary and reports indicate that the Georgia Tech coach could become the next head coach for the Fighting Irish football team. O'Leary is a great recruiter as well as a great coach, he could be a great fit in South Bend. (Think about it ... O'Leary coaching the Fighting Irish). Plus, think he wouldn't enjoy getting rid of that yearly date with Florida State?
Cons: Apparently none.
Odds: 1-5

Tyrone Willingham, Stanford
Pros: Well, the biggest is Notre Dame has asked for -- and received -- permission to speak with Willingham. It's been said Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White isn't one to mess around on these searches, so this is serious. Problem is, no one has heard of any meeting. But, then again, no one heard a peep about George O'Leary meeting with White either. Willingham fits the White requirement of head coaching experience and good graduation rates. After all, if he can win at Stanford, he should be able to win at Notre Dame.
Cons: While he's often rumored to be leaving for the NFL, he has yet to leave. Also, reports say it could cost up to $2.5 million to buy out Willingham. That's a lot of money, even if Regis Philbin is in your corner.
Odds: 4-1.

Tom Coughlin, Jacksonville Jaguars
Pros: Reports say he's just dying to be considered for this job, but for some reason has yet to be contacted. Coughline looks like a perfect kind of candidate for the Irish -- a no-nonsense guy who pays attention to every little detail. He did the college thing -- and did it well -- at Boston College and every recruit with NFL stars in his eyes is going to listen to him when he comes calling. He has yet to deny any interest in the job and with Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden withdrawing his name from consideration, he looks like the leading choice.
Cons: Can't get a Notre Dame official to call him. That tends to hurt when looking for a job.
Odds: 6-1

Houston Nutt, Arkansas
Pros: A young (44) coach who has done a good job in his four seasons at Fayetteville -- going 30-17 and taking the Hogs to what should be their fourth straight bowl appearance. Nutt, who was just named SEC Coach of the Year, also has an infectious enthusiasm that plays well with recruits, fans, media and anyone else with whom he comes into contact.
Cons:'s Len Pasquarelli reports that Notre Dame has asked for permission to speak to Nutt -- though AD Frank Broyles will denies that. So does Nutt: "I have not been contacted by Notre Dame regarding its head coaching position" he told the AP.
Odds: 20-1

Barry Alvarez, Wisconsin
Pros: A former Notre Dame assistant (1987-89) and a candidate for seemingly every big job, he has to be on any list. While the Badgers had a down year this season, Alvarez is a great recruiter and consistently keeps Wisconsin near the top of the polls.
Cons: He is coming off a bad season and had that nasty little Shoegate scandal.
Odds: 25-1.

Rick Neuheisel, Washington
Pros: He won at Colorado. He's winning at Washington. He's the golden boy. He's personable. He's sat with Jay Leno and is comfortable in front of the cameras, fans and alumni, something Bob Davie never seemed at ease with. And did we mention that Kevin White has Pac-10 ties?
Cons: Outside of the fact he has no real Notre Dame ties, some have questioned Neuheisel's integrity. When he left Colorado, he did so just days after saying he had no interest in the UW job and then kind of left the Buffs in a bind. When he left, they were hosting 11 recruits on campus when he decided to take the job. Ouch. So, while he may be charming to some, he may turn others off.
Odds: 30-1

Bob Stoops, Oklahoma
Pros: Too many to list here. The best ones: Won a national championship at Oklahoma -- and did it in just his second year -- and had a 20-game winning streak and the Sooners in the national title chase until a stunning late-season loss. He's from Ohio and would be a nice fit. And let's face it, Stoops isn't short on ego and wouldn't be opposed to the chance to win national championships at two different schools.
Cons: Stoops said "I have no intention of speaking with or dealing with anybody else," in a conference call with media. He declined to comment on whether a representative from Notre Dame had contacted him about the position. But until Notre Dame hires another coach, we find it hard to eliminate him.
Odds: 40-1.

Joe Tiller, Purdue
Pros: Don't need to go far to see this one. Tiller has made instate rival Purdue a yearly Big Ten contender and bowl team, including a trip to last year's Rose Bowl. While his offense would be a shock compared to Davie's option-based offense, it would attract receivers and QBs to South Bend.
Cons: Would he leave Purdue for the Irish? Sounds like a weird concept, but here's guessing he has it pretty good in West Lafayette.
Odds: 50-1.

Long shots

  • Kirk Ferentz: Iowa coach doing well and Kevin White hired him at Maine.
  • Urban Meyer: Former assistant was just named MAC coach of the year after his first season at Bowling Green State.
  • George Seifert: Won Super Bowl as head coach of 49ers and while he's with Carolina now, he could be out of a job by the end of the season.
  • Randy Walker, Northwestern: A few months ago, this would have been a great fit. That was before the Wildcats 4-7 season.
  • Tim Murphy, Harvard: Murphy, who was reportedly interested in the Navy job, but pulled out, led Harvard to its best season since 1913 and also worked for White for two successful years at Maine.

    Thanks, but no thanks
    A quick look at those who have said they have no interest in the ND job:

  • Oregon's Mike Bellotti.
  • Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden.
  • San Francisco 49ers coach Steve Mariucci.

  •  More from ESPN...
    Stoops says he's not interested in Notre Dame
    Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops ...

    Stoops says Notre Dame has not contacted him
    Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops ...

    Gruden not concerned with Notre Dame rumors
    Oakland Raiders coach Jon ...

    Irish or Jaguars? Coughlin could have to choose
    Tom Coughlin could be nearing ...

    Notre Dame fires Davie, coaching staff
    Notre Dame coach Bob Davie ...

    Davie leaves Notre Dame with dignity intact
    The Bob Davie era was never a ...

    Golic: Time for a change
    Notre Dame needs to address ...

    Cerrato: Davie dismissal right move for Irish
    Dismissing Bob Davie was the ...

     Coach Wanted
    ESPN's Chris Mortensen and Gene Wojciechowski rank the candidates for the Notre Dame job with Trey Wingo on SportsCenter .

     Jumping Ship?
    Tom Coughlin dispells the rumors linking his name to the Notre Dame vacancy.
    wav: 116 k | Listen

     Irish Eyes
    Jon Gruden is humbled by the interest, but focus remains on the Raiders.
    wav: 169 k | Listen

     ESPN Tools
    Email story
    Most sent
    Print story