College football's turbulent coaching carousel took another unexpected spin on Tuesday morning, as the rebuilding LSU Tigers announced that Brian Kelly has left Notre Dame to become their next head coach. One door closes, and another one opens.
Who will replace Kelly in South Bend? This question has yet to be answered. Much like LSU and USC, Notre Dame will now need to go big-game hunting, and conduct a national search for top coaching candidates. But is the right successor Urban Meyer, who's currently leading the Jacksonville Jaguars?
"The main thing you want is, you'd like to win," Notre Dame alum and former ESPN host Mike Golic told The DA Show on Tuesday. "Everybody knows what you're getting at Notre Dame. The player you're getting there has to meet a few more stringent guidelines to get in. Meyer's success at the college level has been absolutely incredible. I'd be stunned if he left Jacksonville after one year, honestly. And then he does come with a little bit of baggage, as well.
"I think they go younger. I think [Cincinnati head coach] Luke Fickell is going to be the man they really, really go after. Which makes it a really wild situation, since Cincinnati's right in the mix of it in the final four... I think Fickell would be enamored by the Notre Dame job... I'm sure they have a few names on their list, but I have a feeling that Fickell is right at the top, or near it."
Kelly, who took over as head coach of Notre Dame in 2010, led the program to 11 winning seasons, and two trips to the College Football Playoff. On Sept. 25, he surpassed coaching legend Knute Rockne with 106 wins with the school, although the NCAA doesn't acknowledge 21 of those games due to penalties. This season, the Fighting Irish are 11-1 overall, and ranked the sixth-best team in the nation by the CFP selection committee.
Fickell, the reigning AAC Coach of the Year, owns a 47-14 record across four-plus seasons with fourth-ranked Cincinnati (12-0), and has quickly become one of the hottest coaching commodities. If the undefeated Bearcats defeat Houston in the AAC title game on Saturday, they'll have an 81-percent chance to reach the Playoff, according to FiveThirtyEight projections. In the CFP era, no Group of Five team has ever played in the coveted four-team tournament.
The entire Notre Dame conversation between Golic and DA can be accessed in the audio player above.