Here We Go Again, Take a Deep Breath

It’s funny how quickly things can change.

Yesterday, I compiled a few days worth of investigation into the Stoops rumor, and I finally took the plunge myself personally and thought it was only a matter of time that Big Game Bob would be Irish.

About an hour later, Stoops took my “smoking gun” and turned it on me.  Stoops’ proclamation, however, didn’t stop the Irish faithful from hanging on the audio of his interview and making us think we still had a chance to land Stoops.  Even ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that his sources confirmed Stoops would be Irish within the week.

I may or may not have this hanging in my cube.
There was still hope, still a chance.  If NFL insiders were saying it was only a matter of time, it must be true!!!
Well, until said rumors were shot down once again.
Of course, at this point, all Irish eyes immediately shot to Cincinnati and more South Bend realtors sent Brain Kelly business cards.  However, we were quite quickly met with disappointment as it seemed that Kelly (and Dungy) was off ND’s radar, and there is even talk of Kelly inking an extension (scroll a little way down for the “Cincinnati” section on that link).
Armed with this information, I started to put together a post on how I felt TCU’s Gary Patterson should be the Irish’s new top target, but he inked an extension with the Horn Frogs, effectively taking him out of the running.
Yes, I am having flashbacks to 2004; however, after this initial whirlwind of news and rumors, I have now come to the following conclusions.
Notre Dame Won’t Tip Their Hand
Swarbrick has been steadfast about not letting anything out.  While third parties may have been likely involved in the Stoops rumors that were flying about, beyond that we literally have nothing.  Ironically enough, this has caused even more panic, panic of which even I have fallen victim to.
However, we should’ve seen this coming.
After the Pitt game, as I mentioned before, Swarbrick blocked public flight tracking on the ND jet.  Anything else we hear, can’t be readily confirmed by anything other than the usual “sources” and even the media hasn’t given us anything more substantial than that as well.  Swarbrick and Jenkins were also at a luncheon on campus today, so they sure don’t seem to be in panic mode in the least jet-setting about the nation today.
Unlike 2004, we aren’t going to be able to watch us bounce around from coach to coach and every other day see someone else tell us no.  Sure, we’ve had some potential candidates exit the search rather early, but if that was the case, the chances of them actually going ND were slim to none to begin with.  We aren’t in a comedy of errors.  Both Stoops and ND have outright denied any offer being made.
There have been no embarrassing rejections, simply eliminations of coaches that are not on the market.

Potential Candidates Won’t Tip Their Hands
Our obvious targets are going to be coaches that currently have contracts and jobs.  We are going to get a slew of wavering “I can’t confirm or deny” comments from anyone that we set our sights on.
Brian Kelly is turning into a classic example of this. While there are “talks” of an extension being signed, that is all they are, just talks.  In the meantime, Kelly is also trying to coach his team to a Big East title, BCS Bowl birth, and still needs to focus on current recruits for his program.  As of now, his loyalties are to Cincinnati, not us. Period.
The fact is, until Kelly or any other coach signs the dotted line and becomes the Irish head coach, they have to play the coach-speak game.  Imagine the embarrassment and huge blow that would happen to Cincinnati if Kelly were to say, “yeah, I’m talking with Notre Dame right now”, and then contract negotiations feel through soon after.  Kelly could kiss any potential Cincinnati extension goodbye, have some recruits bolt, and then have to turn and coach some young men that would be very angry their coach cared more about another job than their success this season.
Any potential candidate we seek will look out for themselves and their families first.  While we all want to scream from the rooftops what a wonderful job and place Notre Dame is, we tend to forget that we are talking about someone’s livelihood.
Names might float out there; however, we shouldn’t be shocked when they try to ignore the rumors.
Remember when Nick Saban was definitely coming back to coach the Dolphins? Yeah I do too…

We Don’t Know Squat
We can read tea-leaves all we want, but the fact remains that we don’t know a damn thing about this search.  Unless we personally have a line to Jenkins or Swarbrick, we likely won’t ever know a damn thing until we see the man standing at the podium.
Re-read the titles of the two previous sections just to drive this home.  If neither ND or potential candidates are going to tip their hands until the deal is nearly done, how in the world are we going to know any different?
As of right now, anything that has been rumored has been proven completely false and considering that the rumor mill has completely stopped churning today, I have a feeling that all of our favorite “sources” are going to be dead wrong this time around.
So until we have a new head coach, I’m not going to try to pull my hair out digging for rumors or trying to read into coaches comments.  Any coach that is currently worth their salt to have a Notre Dame is still heavily entrenched in their team’s season and it would be outright classless for any of them to publicly commit to or negotiate with Notre Dame until, at the very least, the regular season is over.
Take a deep breath.  I know we all want this coaching situation resolved quickly, but we need to be realistic in our timeline here.  We need to make sure Notre Dame makes the right hire, and that can’t be done hastily.  If the right hire can’t talk for another two weeks, we damn well better wait two weeks.  If Swarbrick wants to interview multiple coaches for a month let him.
Let’s all focus on what really needs to be done: getting it right this time.