We don't know who Notre Dame's new coach will be. But we're getting a clearer picture, perhaps, of what he will be.
A defensive mind.
|Bob Stoops fits the defensive description that Notre Dame could be looking for. (Getty Images)|
It was previously thought the job was Brian Kelly's to lose. The Cincinnati coach is on the brink of getting the Bearcats to consecutive BCS bowls and has been a success everywhere he has coached.
But he's also an offensive coach. If the Tribune truly has tapped into the heart of the search, then shoring ND's shoddy defense might be the first priority. Weis never was able to develop a consistent D.
While Stoops' name is no surprise, his place at the top of the wish list does depart from the Kelly groupthink. Stoops has yet to speak about the Notre Dame opening, which is understandable given his team's 6-5 record and upcoming game this weekend against rival Oklahoma State.
Stoops, one of the game's highest-paid coaches, made more than $6 million in 2008, due partially to a $3 million one-time payment. His background as a defensive coach goes back to when he was a safety at Iowa. He won a national championship as a defensive coordinator with Florida in 1996 and another as a head coach with OU in 2000.
Patterson once again has put together a top 10 defense at TCU. The Frogs, fourth in the BCS, are an upset away from playing for the national championship. Patterson's name surfaced briefly at Kansas State last year. Before that his name was linked to the opening at Minnesota before the school hired Tim Brewster. He remains one of the hottest coaches in the country.
Patterson is known to love TCU and is comfortable making $2 million per year. For him to leave for another school at this point, the program would have to be a proven winner. That might rule out Notre Dame which, despite its unmatched history, still is going to need to some work to get in position for a BCS bowl.
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Muschamp's name is the biggest surprise. The Texas defensive coordinator is the coach-in-waiting behind Mack Brown making $900,000. This year Muschamp assembled the nation's best run defense in his second year at the school.
If Notre Dame set its sights on the 38-year-old, money would be less of a problem than with the other candidates. Muschamp has never been a head coach and has no buyout in his contract. There was a line of thinking that if Brown stayed at his job long enough, some program or another would pick off Muschamp.
Earlier this week, Florida's Urban Meyer said he was staying at the school "as long as they'll have me."
This weekend could mark the end for several coaches in their current jobs. Virginia's Al Groh could be let go after the Cavaliers' game against Virginia Tech. The names most frequently attached to the job are Temple's Al Golden and Richmond's Mike London.
Buffalo's Turner Gill has been mentioned by several outlets as a candidate should Kansas make a change with Mark Mangino. Mangino is under investigation by the school for alleged verbal and, in one case, perceived physical abuse of his players.
Gill won the MAC last year with the fledgling Division I-A program. The 47-year-old is 17-26 overall in his fourth year with the Bulls. Buffalo (4-7) closes the season Friday at Kent State.
The former Nebraska quarterback has a daughter who attends Kansas. It also could be attractive to Kansas that Gill is a Fort Worth, Texas, native. It is a key for every Big 12 program to be able to recruit Texas.