As Luke Fickell gets ready for the biggest game of his life, Notre Dame is willing to wait for him.
Luke Fickell’s Cincinnati Bearcats are one win away from making the College Football Playoff, but the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are keeping close tabs on potentially their next head coach.
CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd reports Notre Dame is willing to wait for Fickell, as he is seen as the university’s top choice to replace Brian Kelly. The two other prominent candidates for the Notre Dame gig include defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman, who could follow Kelly to LSU, and Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell, who would be very interested in the job if offered the gig.
Cincinnati beat Notre Dame head-to-head and is the Irish’s only loss on the season. The Bearcats host the Houston Cougars in the AAC Championship game at Nippert, a team riding an impressive 11-game winning streak under Dana Holgorsen.
Notre Dame football rumors: Luke Fickell is Fighting Irish’s top target
There is no way around it. This is quite the conundrum for Notre Dame. By targeting Fickell as their top choice, it signifies that Freeman is not that serious of a candidate for the job, as well as hints at Campbell being a third-tier choice. With Urban Meyer already saying no, it puts so much pressure on athletic director Jack Swarbrick to give Fickell a job offer he simply cannot refuse.
Will this be a distraction for Cincinnati football? Very likely. Houston is a really good football team, one totally capable of ruining the Bearcats’ perfect season. The crazy part in all this is if Houston beats Cincinnati in the AAC Championship and if Baylor beats Oklahoma State in the Big 12 title bout, Notre Dame is going to the playoff without a head coach! This is the epitome of silly season.
Should Cincinnati beat Houston to get to 13-0, the Bearcats will face the likes of Alabama, Georgia or Michigan in the national semifinals in either the Cotton Bowl Classic or the Orange Bowl. Cincinnati would not be favored over any of those teams, but those New Year’s Six bowls are still a month away. In that case, it could mean Notre Dame will be without a head coach for five weeks.
Notre Dame might be willing to get their top choice, but these coaching searches do move quickly.