Thanks to Brian Kelly for three great years. As someone who went to Nippert to watch games during the early part of this decade, it was terrific to see the excitement (and success) he brought to the program. I've previously written that coaches should not be permitted to leave before their season is done. But until the NCAA creates some more rational rules, the system is what it is. I don't blame Notre Dame, Brian Kelly, or UC for Kelly's early departure.
Now, UC has a decision to make: will it continue to grow UC's football program, or will it view the team's recent success as a byproduct of Brian Kelly that is unreproducable by another coach and therefore back off? I hope it chooses the former path. UC made a mistake by permitting the basketball program to be too strongly identified with a single head coach. It should continue with its plans to provide Division I-quality practice facilities and expand Nippert.
Who should UC look to hire as its next head coach? There's a lot of talent (not the least of which is Zach Callaros) ready to play next year. After 12 wins and 2 consecutive BCS appearances, UC will have more options than it did after Mark Dantonio left. A short list of candidates (in no particular order):
- Kerry Coombs, UC (a terrible choice, but this is who UC chooses if it decides it's not interested in continuing to grow the program)
- Jeff Quinn, UC
- Turner Gill, Buffalo (if Kansas doesn't sign him first)
- Skip Holtz, ECU
- Butch Jones, Central Michigan University (two CMU coaches in a row?)
Any other names we should discuss?