Final Update: Irisheyes.com, the Scout Notre Dame football franchise, reports that Charlie Weis is set to return for 2009.
The discussion below is not for nothing, however, as the fact is that Tom O’Brien will become a person of interest for bigger programs looking to improve their coaching situation. While O’Brien has said that NC State is his last coaching stop, common sense says that keeping the coach and his staff happy is the prudent thing to do.
Silly Season for college football is upon us, and coaches who have failed in their current positions might be finding pink slips under their Christmas trees. Perhaps the highest profile potential opening so far this year might be Notre Dame, where Charlie Weiss has thus failed to live up to his NFL resume and great fanfare…and might be fired after a review of his program is completed this week.
Ordinarily, that’s of only passing interest to NC State fans, but the media is starting its routine of pulling random names from the hat:
“If Charlie Weis is forced out at Notre Dame, don’t be shocked to see the Irish make runs at Cincinnati’s Brian Kelly and N.C. State’s Tom O’Brien.”
O’Brien is still building NC State’s program in his image, and the late season surge by the Wolfpack has been noted by the media and undoubtedly by Athletic Directors like Notre Dame’s Jack Swarbrick. For their part, the Irish have made no definitive statement that Weiss is out of a job:
“Nothing will happen until we complete the entire review process,” Swarbrick said late Saturday night outside the Irish locker room. “We do that as a regular course. It doesn’t assume something will happen.”
“Swarbrick and the university president, Rev. John Jenkins, watched firsthand the dismantling that occurred at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. If experience is instructive, prudence should drive their every twitch in this process.”
That process might include another run at Urban Meyer, the coach they thought that the Irish had on board when they dismissed Tyrone Willingham in 2004. From the same Chicago Tribune article:
[...] a window that presumably opens after Saturday’s Southeastern Conference championship game and stays that way for 40 days — a week past the BCS title game on 1/8 – should Florida beat Alabama to win the SEC title.
Considering that Urban Meyer already said NO to Notre Dame once, it’s hard to imagine him leaving the gentle climate, rabid fanbase and deep pockets of The Swamp for the raw autumn afternoons on Notre Dame; but some people still consider Notre Dame college football royalty despite the fact that they have not won a bowl game since 1994.
When looking to deep pockets in college sports, one need look no further than the Irish — they’re the only FBS team with its own national television deal, and the only team that has special standing in the BCS. And, they will need those deep pockets to buy out Weiss whose contract still has seven years. Since a potential move to Notre Dame doesn’t seem likely to n’t seem likely, the Irish would turn their sites to names like Cincinnati’s Brian Kelly and State’s Tom O’Brien.
While we are pondering a potential Irish list, let’s not forget how wonderful of a job that Butch Davis has done turning around a floundering program in Chapel Hill. (smiles). Davis’ NFL experience and proven ability to recruit nationally would be a super fit for the Irish. (Don’t you think?)
Lee Fowler would be wise to read this quote that we intentionally put on the site last week. We would hope that Fowler could find time away from his Lake house or his favorite restaurant in Cary (does his wife EVER cook?) and spend some time with Tom O’Brien negotiating a definitive contract extension with a satisfying raise. Doing so would remove O’Brien from anyone’s wish list, real or imagined, and would be a statement of continuity in an obviously upwardly mobile football program. That would provide solid answers to any questions opposition coaches might raise on the recruiting trail, and you can bet that they will do exactly that given half the opportunity.
State’s history of losing great coaches is mixed. After losing Lou Holtz and Bo Rein inthe 1970s, Dick Sheridan expressed his loyalty to NC State – and consistently stated his love for Athletics Director, Jim Valvano – by turning down opportunities at Georgia, South Carolina, Auburn, Arizona and LSU in the late 1980s. If Jim Oblinger and Lee Fowler ever want the Wolfpack program to seriously contend for the Championships that Coach O’Brien again referenced in his post-game comments after Saturday’s win, then they need to take care of business and tangibly let our staff know our level of appreciation for what they are building.