Brian Kelly made the surprising decision to take over the head coaching role in Baton Rouge, stepping into the shoes that will has been vacated by Ed Orgeron, who will not coach the Tigers' bowl game. Despite the Fighting Irish still having some critical games on the slate, Kelly has departed the program and is set to begin his new chapter at LSU.
Well, with Kelly's exit inevitable, Notre Dame has already begun weighing out replacements, and the university has apparently identified its ideal candidate.
According to Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports, the Fighting Irish will once again look to the University of Cincinnati in efforts of poaching away its head coach. Dodd indicated that Luke Fickell is the team's preferred head coach to replace Kelly, and the program is willing to wait until this season wraps up before opening up talks with the Bearcats' sideline boss.
ND will apparently wait for Luke Fickell, apparently the No 1 choice. Jack Swarbrick suggested he will not name an interim. Assts being told to stay on the road. Strong Catholic ties with Fickell. ND wants renewed bond with traditional Midwest Catholic high schools in recruiting.
— Dennis Dodd (@dennisdoddcbs) November 30, 2021
Notre Dame, of course, hired Kelly away from Cincinnati back in 2010. Kelly had just wrapped up his third full season in charge of the Bearcats, having led them to a 12-0 record in 2009.
Kelly spent 12 years with the Fighting Irish, experiencing both highs and lows throughout his tenure. He logged a coaching record of 153-113 and went 5-5 in bowl games at the helm of Notre Dame.
Fickell, on the other hand, has been with Cincinnati since 2017 and helped revamp the program into one of college football's best. Across five years with the Bearcats, Fickell boasts a 47-14 record, including a 43-6 record over the past four seasons. Per Dodd, Notre Dame is said to be keen on renewing their “bond with traditional Midwest Catholic high schools in recruiting,” and feel Fickell is the man to help them achieve that goal.