Once Weis Is Axed, Will Bob Stoops Be ND’s Next?

Let’s operate with a premise that may or may not come true, but for the sake of an argument and speculation we’ll say is true: Notre Dame will fire Charlie Weis relatively soon. That much isn’t exactly a stretch, though it’s anybody’s guess how long it’ll be before Weis’ buyout becomes “worth it” to Notre Dame. Economy and all.

Charlie Weis
(You know it’s bad when Weis’ Invisibility Cloak isn’t even working for him anymore.)

Once that hypothetical situation hypothetically bears itself out (strictly hypothetically, we might add), obviously, the search for a replacement is on and it had better be fruitful. While Notre Dame fans are busy explaining to themselves why they’re too good for Urban Meyer (no, really), Bob Stoops may be busy explaining to himself why he’s just right for the Golden Domers.

From the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES:

If athletic director Jack Swarbrick decides Weis’ Notre Dame career is over after his fifth season, a source said Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz will be in the mix to replace him. The source said Stoops has told confidants he would be interested in talking to the Irish.

While pessimistic fans may point to Stoops’ recent history in BCS games as evidence that he’s a big-game choker, the point remains: Bob Stoops takes OU to BCS games all the time.

That’s not something Weis can say - especially as they’ve lost 9 of their last 10 games against Top 25 opponents with Weis at the helm. Simply put, he has not put together a very good program since 2006, and that’s been enough to get predecessors Bob Davie and Tyrone Willingham fired from Notre Dame.

As for Kirk Ferentz, he’s the longest-tenured Big Ten coach whose name isn’t Paterno, and he’s never left a BCS school for another (his previous head coaching gig: Maine). The only reasoning that leads one to believe that Ferentz would leave Iowa is the notion that Iowa isn’t a “destination” school on account of their lack of tradition or MNC. But Iowa’s had two football coaches over the last thirty years - again, second only in the Big Ten to Penn State - and Ferentz already has enough* money coming his way at Iowa. A defection to Notre Dame seems exceedingly unlikely.

Really, though, this turmoil may just be symptomatic of a deeper problem, which is that Notre Dame’s best long-term interests may not be being served by flying solo in college football. While it’s nice that they can pad their schedule with middle-of-the-packers from the Big Ten and Pac-10, schedule a date with USC, then call it a day, they’re really losing out on credibility on the national scale.

Meanwhile, the Big East (whom the Irish had no qualms about joining in basketball) is about to send Cincinnati to a BCS game. Shouldn’t the Irish be licking their chops at that more than trying to gain national attention from a college football channel nobody watches and a schedule full of Purdues, Washingtons, and armed services? It’s the 21st century; eventually, Notre Dame’s going to have to join it.

*Some would even say “more than enough.”