Urban Meyer To Notre Dame: His Dream Job
Novemeber 30, 2004 is a date many Irish faithful would love to forget, or would love to replay- if some miracles of sort or fate went according to hopes and dreams.
Notre Dame had just completed another uneventful season under Ty Willingham, finishing 6-5 in 03'.
His short stint in South Bend started with a bit of a flurry, leading the Irish to a 10-3 season that included a birth in the Gator Bowl in 2002.
The common opinion was that the Irish had found 'their man'.
In 2003, the Irish swan dived to an illustrious 5-7 record, followed by another stellar 6-5 output that sparked the topic of the next coach.
Glaring in the futile output of Willingham's Irish, was the manner in which losses were accumulated.
In 2003, Notre Dame was shut out two times: 38-0 to Michigan and 37-0 to Florida State.
His initial year with Notre Dame ended with a pounding at the hands of rival USC.
The Trojans put up a trillion yards of offense and defeated the Irish 44-13.
No sooner did Willingham acquire his personalized Warren Golf Club bag tag, his outing was announced.
So the onslaught of "Next man in" again surfaces for the Irish coaching vacancy and names at the forefront included Utah's darling-Urban Meyer.
And in customary Notre Dame fashion, the Irish brass pulled a rabbit out from beneath their robes, hired a name nobody was talking about and plunged the program into depths not scene.
What could have been.
Enter Charlie Weis and the continuation of dismay, bad football decisions and horrid results.
Charlie Weis finished his career at Notre Dame 35-27.
And much like Willingham, Weis compiled some blemishes that would take some miraculous feats to undo.
Notre Dame would lose it's first game to Navy in some time after a string of 43 games were compiled.
In 2008, the Irish would fall to the likes of Syracuse and in 2009- a loss to Connecticut would add to long list of forgettable moments at Notre Dame under Weis.
Meyer would venture to Florida and win 2 championships.
His time in Utah included two 10 plus winning seasons before heading to Gainseville.
But the undertones and what if's that never panned out in South Bend can only be fantasized today.
What if Notre Dame would allow for JUCO transfers- like the majority of college's do?
Would if Notre Dame would have relaxed it's academic requirements for it's student athletes- namely the football program?
Would if Notre Dame opened up it's vault and offered the hottest name in coaching at the time a salary so lucrative his "dream job" would have been fulfilled?
These were rumored to be the stumbling blocks for a transfer of title of Meyer to South Bend from Utah.
And although Meyer never outwordly admitted to these foundations, he never swayed or wavered from his desire to coach at Notre Dame again.
From 1996 to 2000, Meyer was on the Notre Dame sidelines as a wide receivers coach.
And in just a few short years, Notre Dame would fail to secure his services as their head man for the first time with the Willingham hire.
In the aftermath of the Weis departure, Meyer's name surfaced yet again as the future of Notre Dame football.
But, the Irish never proceeded in depth with the pursuit and would again pull a name not exactly near the top of everyone's wish list- Brian Kelly.
Much like Meyer was in Utah, Kelly was a hot item at the time.
Kelly led the Cincinnati Bearcats to an undefeated season in 2009.
And unlike his to previous coaches, Kelly managed to undo the wrongs of both, dig the Irish out of it's well and propell them back into the title game and totally revamp their image.
But it still begs the question of the state of Notre Dame football today had the Irish inked Meyer instead of either Willingham or Weis and if he'd still be the head coach today- some 10 years later?
Would the Irish have faced Alabama in the title game in 2012?
Would the Irish finish the last 5 seaon's with 8 win's- something Kelly has managed?
Where Meyer thrives as a head coach is recruiting at the linebacker spot and cover positions.
Glaring areas of weakness over the years for the Irish.
And if tightened up- could the Irish propell themselves even beyond 8 wins each year and possibly contend as well?
Could Meyer equally recruit the southern regions of the country and also obtain the quarterbacks he has- another area of concern recently while coaching at Notre Dame?
But only areas of concern when you consider what restrictions hamper the signing of elite recruits from across the country to fulfill those positions.
Kelly is currently making the most out of the least- and has every year since his arrival.
Could Meyer acquire the same talent in South Bend that he did while at Florida or what he currently assembles at Ohio State?
These are things that may never be answered in the the short window.
And currently, the succes Meyer is having at Ohio State would be a hard thing to walk away from.
Coaching Notre Dame is still Urban Meyer's dream job- or so it was at the time the Irish hired Willingham and Weis and Kelly.
While at Utah, Meyer had an out in his contract that basically stated if the Irish spot came open..well,you know the rest.
But, coaching at Notre Dame is never as easy as someone telling you the position you desire will soon be made available.
It's Notre Dame.
Things like faith, family and history accompany the non-typical roadblocks at other universities- academics and the student athlete thriving among future lawyers and other elite well doers in the future.
At the time of the hiring of Willingham, Meyer opined of his future at South Bend versus his opt to Florida:
"This was a family decision that was made prior to the other situation,"
"I heard people say it was your dream job. It still is," Meyer said. "It just so happens I have three children at a (young) age and a situation that was well into effect before that one was even on the radar."
He is well aware of what ales Notre Dame and the difficulties surrounding the university to be successful on the gridiron year in and year out.
It's no gaurentee either that Meyer would have had success at Notre Dame.
And he obviously brings alot of baggage with him, particulary with his time at Florida.
Would he have put the Irish in an equal state that Florida currently is in with it's image?
Meyer is often the center of attention when Florida and 'felons' are spoke of.
Things are drastically different in South Bend as opposed to Gainesville or Columbus.
It changes people.
And it could be said the road less traveled is an acquired taste for many, which could explain why elite recruits often fade into the distance after committing to play for Notre Dame.
Coaches just won't come at all.
There is much to gain, but you can look awfully meek in the process.
Which leads to the reward of sorts that would equally be obtained with the next BCS title won at Notre Dame.
The coach that succeeds will have done so under the most extreme conditions.
That coach will have climbed the Mt. Everest of college football.
He will have sprinted to the win of the Boston Marathon or peddled his way to the Tour De France title.
Urban Meyer to Notre Dame is always a possibility and was possible at one time.
So is the chance he never will come to South Bend- especially with another success story at another college and another title to add to his resume..