Jim O'Donnell: Double guaranteed -- someone will coach The Fighting Irish next season

  • Jacksonville Jaguars coach Urban Meyer, right, says he's not interested in being the next Notre Dame coach.

    Jacksonville Jaguars coach Urban Meyer, right, says he's not interested in being the next Notre Dame coach. Associated Press

Updated 12/1/2021 7:50 PM

MAYBE THE BIG FOOTBALL INTELLIGENCE -- the cosmic force that calls all of the shots on and around gridirons everywhere -- has a sense of humor.

If it does, Matt Nagy will be the next head coach of Notre Dame.


That move could herald some sort of a new lend-louse deal between Lake Forest and South Bend.

He won't be. Nor, says Urban Meyer, will it be Urban Meyer. That means Meyer has immediately rocketed to the top of the list to replace lucre-laden crawfisher Brian Kelly.

SEVENTEEN AUTUMNS AGO -- November 2004 -- an insouciant sat in the living room of a house on the far West Side of Cleveland.

Also in attendance was a designated Irish cousin who just happened to be a ranking prelate on the ND Board of Trustees.

On the TV, Meyer was directing Alex Smith and unbeaten Utah to a 52-21 pasting of BYU.

The priest -- in very certain manner -- said: "There's our next head coach."

The sports journalist within asked, "Is it certain?"

The holy man's reply: "Not quite. But it's going to happen. We're his dream job. He's our dream coach. And, he's even named for popes. That's called divine convergence."

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FROM THE VATICAN to Never-Never Land, that sounded like quite a closing checklist.

Only Meyer took a wrong turn that proved to be a right turn for the Florida Gators.

And the Irish scrambled to land the highly charming Charlie Weis, who won football games until the inherited array of Ty Willingham recruits and Bob Davie holdovers ran out.

So much for divine convergence.

NOW KELLY DEPARTS and here are certainties about Notre Dame football:

• When the native Bostonian arrived in 2010, there were three coaching deities floating above The Golden Dome -- Knute Rockne, Frank Leahy and Ara Parseghian;

• As Kelly leaves, there is still only the holy trinity -- Rockne, Leahy and Parseghian.

Memories of any of them can make Irish eyes smile and steal the point spreads away;


• Kelly won a lot of football games but no national championship. And as a college football personality, calling him "charisma free" comes with the Catholic Charities seal of approval.

He has been the accomplished service department manager the auto dealership seldom needed out on the showroom floor.

So, someone will coach Notre Dame next season.

As far as who it will be, it depends upon how far The Big Football Intelligence wants to take "irony."

STREET-BEATIN': Northern Illinois watchers catch a very nice break Saturday with Jason Benetti and Andre Ware on the call of the Huskies-Kent State MAC championship match from Ford Field in Detroit (ESPN, 11 a.m.). They are a thoroughly engaging broadcast duo. ...

Daily Herald sports editor Mike Smith (NIU, Class of '81) -- who still mists up at any mention of Tim Tyrell or sunrises over Stevenson Towers -- calls it Huskies (+2½) 42-36. (DeKalb/Prospect High seer Mike Korcek has it the same way, 49-42, in one OT.) ...

Immediately after Northern Illinois cashes, theatrics will abound on ESPN when quicksilver QB Desmond Ridder and host Cincinnati (-10½) try to complete their run to the CFP vs. Houston in the AAC title game. (Joe Tessitore, Greg McElroy, 3 p.m.) The visitors have talent and momentum, but they also have a notably hotheaded coach in Dana Holgorsen. ...

Completing the primary non-Confederate broadcast day, Kirk Ferentz and Iowa (+10½) can beat Michigan for the Big Ten title if: They don't implode, utilize hungry Pella hog smash-snout from snap one and remember that the punt remains the most important play in football. They're also playing against a Jim Harbaugh team (FOX, Gus Johnson, Joel Klatt, 7 p.m.) ...

Excellent local college basketball barometer Saturday when unbeaten DePaul hosts new-age Loyola (3 p.m.; FS1, WSCR-AM (670), loyolaramblers.com). Two notable breakouts: LU 6-10 sophomore center Jacob Hutson and Blue Demons fleet winger David Jones. ...

Land o' Lakes name said to be dreamsicling the Bears' head coaching job: P.J. Fleck. The University of Minnesota HC is on the board as a courtesy 99-1 because his resume is weak and he has yet to master "24/7 podium sincere." ...

And it'll be hard for Danny Lundstedt and other Orange Krush alumni to find a more clever collegiate lancer than the one their heirs chanted Monday night during the Fighting Illini's 82-72 win over Notre Dame: "Hire Nagy!"

• Jim O'Donnell's Sports & Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at jimodonnelldh@yahoo.com.

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