Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Potential Replacements for Brian Kelly as Notre Dame Head Coach

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – OCTOBER 30: Head coach Luke Fickell of the Cincinnati Bearcats reacts during the second half against the Tulane Green Wave at Yulman Stadium on October 30, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

The college football world was rocked Monday night when it was reported that Brian Kelly would leave the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to take over as the head coach at LSU.

Kelly, the winningest coach in Notre Dame history, will head to the SEC, taking over a team only two years removed from winning a national championship.

As Kelly reportedly begins to pack his office, there are plenty of names already being floated as potential replacements at Notre Dame:

Matt Campbell, Iowa State Head Coach

Campbell has led the Iowa State Cyclones to five consecutive bowl appearances, posting a record of 42-33 in six seasons in Ames. He helped Iowa State to their first regular-season Big 12 title in school history, and also led them to a win in the Fiesta Bowl.

He had reportedly been offered a contract by the Detroit Lions during the 2021 offseason, but had signed a new contract extension to stay with the Cyclones.

Luke Fickell, Cincinnati Head Coach

The Fighting Irish hit paydirt the last time they went to Cincinnati to hire a head coach, hiring Kelly following the 2009 season, but could they go to that well again?

Fickell has helped lead the Bearcats to a 12-0 record this season and has them on the brink of potentially becoming the first Power Five team to ever reach the College Football Playoff, but the Irish could back up the Brinks truck and make him an offer to come coach in South Bend, as his 47-14 record in five seasons with Cincinnati has made him an attractive candidate for plenty of jobs.

Marcus Freeman, Notre Dame Defensive Coordinator

Kelly lobbied hard to hire Freeman as Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator prior to the 2021 season, and he could be a potential in-house candidate to replace him at the helm.

After a slow start to the season, Notre Dame’s defense came on strong in the latter stages, giving up 18.3 points per game and finishing just outside of the top 10 in the country in that category.

In their final four games of the season, Notre dame gave up a total of 23 points, giving themselves an outside chance at a playoff berth.  

Then...there's this:

Urban Meyer, Jacksonville Jaguars Head Coach

Meyer has been linked to Notre Dame in the past, and even though he’s only in his first season as the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, there are going to be plenty of rumors that could link him to the Irish job now.

After all, the Jaguars are 2-9 in Meyer’s first season, and he has found plenty of success at the collegiate level, leading both Florida and Ohio State to national championships. He has a record of 187-32 in four stops, and would be a massive hire for Notre Dame if they were to go that direction.

Brent Venables, Clemson Defensive Coordinator/Associate Head Coach

While Venables has been linked in some reports to the Oklahoma job, having served as an assistant under Bob Stoops in Norman, the Irish could also look to him as a strong defensive guru, who also comes with plenty of big-game experience having worked at Clemson since 2012.