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Notre Dame Football

Swarbrick: Fit, not fast, is key to Notre Dame hire

November 30, 2021

So, the NCAA's early signing period for scholarship athletes – particularly football players – begins in 15 days – Dec. 15 – and the organization's Transfer Portal is running wide open – more so since college football's regular season wrapped up last weekend.

Notre Dame, suddenly in need of a new head coach after Brian Kelly jettisoned the program Monday for Southeastern Conference power LSU, is neither going to name an interim coach nor rush the process to find Kelly's replacement, Irish athletics director Jack Swarbrick revealed Tuesday.

“I met with (Notre Dame's players) this morning,” Swarbrick said, “and I was reminded of [being in an envious position to find Kelly's replacement] and reminded of the fact that the culture built in this program isn't Jack Swarbrick's culture, it's not Brian Kelly's culture, it is the culture built by those young men and especially the leaders of that team. …

“We haven't made a decision on an interim yet, and frankly I think we may approach it a little bit differently. This staff is so well-structured and the responsibilities are so well-understood, I feel less of a need to have a designated interim. But as the search progresses, if we feel a need to put somebody in that position, they would not be a candidate for the job.”

Swarbrick then doubled-down that his approach to the process of finding a new coach for arguably college football's most visible program will prioritize set criteria over expediency.

“First and foremost it's getting the right leader,” said Swarbrick, Notre Dame's head of athletics for the past 13-plus years. “I recognize the external factors, if you will, the recruiting calendar and transfer portals, but none of that is a reason not to make sure that we run a process that gets the very best person to lead this program forward, so that will be our focus.”

What is the criteria Swarbrick outlined?

“Fit at Notre Dame is number one,” he said. “This is a unique place, and it is important that you understand and appreciate the uniqueness. That's a critical element of this.

“Increasingly the role of college football head coaches is a CEO role, and so clearly understanding your approach to building and managing staff becomes very important.

“Next, what's your approach to playing the game? What's your style? How do you achieve victory on the football field?

“And then a whole list of things that relate to attracting and developing great student-athletes, and especially the development part of it. I am really pleased with where our recruiting is today and the improvements we've made in it, the resources we've put into it, but I still want to be a great development program, so what are your ideas on developing young men to be great players, great champions and great parts of our community.”

Swarbrick said “Notre Dame will lead the search” and indicated that the school would not specifically retain an outside search firm but could utilize a third-party if clandestine travel is needed.

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