The Irish will now have to turn their attention to a number of possible targets. Meyer was the likely choice, the popular choice and appeared to be the easiest to get. Now the search could take many twists and turns until its conclusion, and that conclusion could take a while.
Obviously there are a number of clear targets on the board. Cal coach Jeff Tedford will likely be a target. Tedford took a woeful Cal team (1-10 in his first season) and turned them into a consistent winner including the Bears current No. 4 ranking. The one drawback could be Tedford is known as a West coast guy.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz will also likely be a top candidate. Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White hired Ferentz when he was athletic director at Maine and Ferentz has Midwest roots. Ferentz is said to have signed a three-year extension, however, so he might not be available.
Louisville's Bobby Petrino could also be a target for the Irish. Petrino was the offensive coordinator at Auburn before taking the job at Louisville. The 43-year old Petrino has led the Cardinals to a 10-1 season, and his offense would seem ideal for the Irish at this point.
Another name mentioned often is Boise State's Dan Hawkins. Hawkins, 44, has openly said numerous times he's interested in the Notre Dame job. Hawkins has led the Broncos to a 44-6 record under his watch and is fast becoming a star in coaching circles due to his explosive offense. The Broncos are currently ranked No. 2 in both total yards and scoring in the country.
We'll also likely hear a number of pro candidates being toss around. We've already heard New England Patriot's offensive coordinator Charlie Weis. Weis is a Notre Dame graduate and has three Super Bowl rings.
Denver Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan was a hot name during the 2001-2002 search that produced Willingham. Shanahan also has two Super Bowl rings and had eight years of college experience before heading to the pro ranks. I expect to hear his name again and often in the next few weeks.
Detroit Lions head coach Steve Mariucci is another name already linked to the Notre Dame job. Mariucci also has a number of years experience in the college game including a head coaching job at Cal before taking over for the San Fransisco 49ers. Marucci has long been mentioned as a guy who has an interest in coaching at Notre Dame.
One thing I'll caution you of right now is to be skeptical. Be skeptical when you hear names being thrown around. It's been known agents like to leak names to the press to see if they can get their guy a raise.
Also be careful when you hear that something comes for a "solid" source. I'm going to guess a total of 4-5 people will actually know about what is going on behind the scenes, and it's not in their best interest to be leaking this information. Just be skeptical from here forward and enjoy the ride. This should be another wild one.