After listening to Beano Cook and Colin Cowherd (before the usual ESPN Shmooze took over the conversation) discuss Notre Dame, I started to think about their situation and how it could shake out.
Let's assume Weis is gone. First, what does that mean for his incoming recruiting class? How many of those guys would leave? Now, that might depend on who they hire to replace him, but it is a very interesting question.
Next: how many of their current guys would leave? Claussen, Floyd, and Tate come to mind, of course. You'd have to consider the NFL salary cap question, plus Floyd and Claussen have had some injuries, and they might have people in their ears talking about Sam Bradford's $ituation. And would they stick around for one more year to learn a new coach and system? I doubt it.
Now, let's consider some possibilities.
Brian Kelly: spread guy--would they have to go through a system change like Michigan? Would they? Much has been made of Rodriguez needing "his guys" here--wouldn't that apply to them?
Another name tossed out there is Paul Johnson. Hmmm--straight option guy--is that a realistic possibility? At face value, I say "No"--but ND's academic considerations might make winning there under Johnson easier. He'd get athletes, and add to that the fact that ND would be hard to prepare for on a one-game basis (no conference affiliation)--and you just might have a winning formula right there.
Cowhered and Cook mentioned Fitzgerald of Northwestern. Another spread guy? A local (kind of)? How can you not look at a guy who does well at Northwestern? Plus, he's familiar with the Big Ten, and ND plays three Big Ten teams every year.
I think you have to consider the impact of a Big Name there. Weis had that (insert pun), and it helped his recruiting. Not having a Big Name has hurt them IMO since Holtz left. I still think ND needs a guy who is a bit transcendental--a bit bigger than the game itself--to be a power, but there aren't that many of those guys left--and if there re (Meyer, Stoops, etc)--would they leave good jobs to go to the biggest Hot Seat in college football?
My choice: John Gruden. He's got The Ring, same as Weis. Former pro coach. This would make incomming recruits less nervous and less likely to jump ship. It might keep some juniors around as well. And he has the Big Name. It's the big headline grabber that they are used to, and I think their collective ego sends them in this direction.
I think Weis IS gone, barring a three-game winning streak to end the season. I don't see where they have a choice. If you aren't getting it done by Year 5--you aren't going to get it done.