Smith admitted that he hadn't gotten his team prepared to play after mismanaging the clock and blowing a 16-point lead with eight minutes left in the game to lose 40-37 to Notre Dame.
"Apparently, I don't have the answer," said Smith when asked about his team's performance. Even worse he continued, "we can't get them to go hard in practice," continued Smith." So we've got to continue to look for the answer."
If MSU pulls the plug on Smith, who are the most logical candidates to replace him?
5. Mike Price, head coach, University of Texas at El Paso: A proven winner who compiled an 83-78 won-loss record at Washington State including 10-2 and 10-3 his last two seasons in Pullman. After a fiasco where he was hired and then fired at Alabama for an off-field incident, he landed at UTEP and recorded back-to-back 8-4 seasons and a trip to the Houston Bowl.
Drawback: Price is 60 years old and after the fiasco in Birmingham, AL, he might not be interested in moving again.
4. Greg Schiano, head coach, Rutgers: In his first head coaching job, Schiano has Rutgers (4-0 # 23 USA Today), a non-traditional football school, in the top-25 in his fifth season. Sciano built the team from the bottom up, going through four sub.500 season before finally striking paydirt this year.
Drawback: While Rutgers appears to be finally stable after his hard work, his 19-39 record heading into this season may worry Spartan alumni who don't want a long rebuilding process. Also, he is a New Jersey native who might not want to leave except for Miami where he was defensive coordinator.
3. Dennis Erickson, head coach, Idaho: Erickson is too big a star to stay on the Palouse too long. After being sacked as San Francisco 49ers head coach, Erickson was a man without a job and so took the Idaho position as a favor to the program that started him. He has two National Championships under his belt at Miami (11-1 1989, 12-0 1991) and in his four seasons in posted an 11-1 season and a Pac-10 championship)
Drawbacks: Is Erickson a wandered who'll dump State for the next job that comes along and his penchant for running afoul of NCAA regulations.
2. Pat Shurmur, quarterbacks coordinator, Philadelphia Eagles: If MSU wants an "MSU man" then Shurmur, a former all league center under George Perles is the guy. Shurmur bleeds Green-and White and would love the chance to restore the program back to the heights it briefly experienced under Perles. Plus, his NFL experience might be an attraction to potential recruits.
Drawbacks: MSU might not want to risk getting a Perles disciple back in charge of the program and Shurmur has no head coaching experience.
1. Steve Mariucci, analyst, NFL network: If Mariucci wants this job, it would likely be his. He is articulate, smart and a solid football coach despite what happened with the Detroit Lions. His combination of charm and charisma, combined with his convincing personality would sell recruits, the program and charm alumni. Michigan State would feel it struck gold if it could team Mariucci with his longtime friend Tom Izzo. Mariucci spent just one season atop a collegiate program, going 6-6 at Cal, before jumping to major success as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.
Drawbacks: If Mariucci couldn't turn it around, the University risks alienating Izzo by firing his best friend. Izzo needs to be on board with the parameters of this hiring or the University would be better off just passing.