Who's the Best Candidate?

I won't pretend to know what it takes to be a successful football coach at <!--Default For Notre Dame is to ignore-->Notre Dame. There are so many factors to the job that one can't possibly fathom the responsibility if you're a bystander like most of us. However, I do have my opinion, and we all know how much I love to state my opinion.

The head football coach at Notre Dame has to be one of the most difficult jobs in the country. A successful Notre Dame coach would have to be an excellent motivator, leader, parent, disciplinarian, strategist, politician, salesman and extremely organized.

This person would also have to be extremely driven and not afraid of the national spotlight. And as I've said before, I think the guy needs to enjoy the limelight.

I've spent two years watching an Irish head football coach as a credentialed writer and it's been a wild ride. I've also spent the last two years watching during one of the more stressful times for any coach--times of failure.

All I can say would be that I'll gladly stick with my computer. I guess that depends on the money, but the money is definitely earned when you sit in the big chair in South Bend.

I probably have a more unique look into the job because I also cover the second season of Notre Dame football—recruiting—and vast majority of journalists don't.

I don't think people understand how difficult it is to recruit for any coach in today's game. I've been told often that coaches leave on Sunday to hit the road recruiting and most don't check into their hotel rooms until well past midnight during the week.

The traveling, getting lost trying to find a particular prospect's home, missing flights, in-home visits, being away from your family, all of this has to be very stressful for anyone and it's a two-month gig.

Compound that with the disappointment of losing prospects to another team and the last two months of recruiting can be quite hectic.

From Sunday to Thursday coaches will be out on the road recruiting and then will fly back home for official visit weekends.

The week is hardly over with when they return from the road as they have to entertain the top prospects in for official visits. Dinners, meetings, and they always have to be "on." Smiling, shaking hands, joking, it has to get tiresome.

A lot of names will be linked with Notre Dame in the next few weeks. Knowing what I know in regards to the day-to-day responsibilities and the recruiting challenges, it's my opinion that a younger, eager and hungry guy is what the Irish need for a head coach. I think they need a guy who still has something to prove and will be highly motivated to get that done. I also believe it's vital this person really wants to coach at Notre Dame.

Most professional coaches like the pro ranks because it's all business. It's all football all of the time. There is no worrying about if your players are attending class. There is no recruiting. There is no rubbing elbows at alumni meetings.

Most Irish fans would love to land a Mike Holmgren, Jon Gruden or a Mike Shanahan. I'm sure all three would have success at Notre Dame and would certainly be the shot in the arm this program needs.

However, I do think there is a risk hiring someone later in their career who's already had a lot of success. It's hard for any coach to win a second Super Bowl or a second National Championship and I think the same analogy can be used here. With the hiring of the right assistants, it could be a wonderful marriage, but it also could be a disappointment.

I'm hardly one who would be disappointed by naming any of the three mentioned above or a number of professional coaches, in fact I'd be giddy, but I also think the Irish would do just fine finding a younger, more aggressive and eager coach who has something to prove.

With younger coaches you also have a risk. You have the risk of inexperience, and you also don't get the benefit of the "big name" when it comes to recruiting.

However, Bobs Stoops, Kirk Ferentz and Jeff Tedford--three coaches the Irish are likely pursuing--didn't have head coaching experience before taking over at their respective positions. Neither did a number of coaches currently heading top 25 teams.

I also believe it will be very important to find an offensive-minded coach for this hire. Notre Dame will have 11 starters returning on offense next year and I think it would be important to show potential recruits the Irish will have an explosive offense. I also think you need to build upon a strength and Notre Dame's strength next season should be offense.

This job won't be easy no matter who takes it. Irish fans will have to be patient. I expect to hear plenty of names popping up this week. Just remember to remain skeptical and patient of what you hear in the next few days. Until we have some evidence as to the actual targets and their interest, we won't actually know how this process is progressing.

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