Notre Dame coaching search: Matt Campbell, Marcus Freeman, Luke Fickell top candidates to replace Brian Kelly

The turbulent coaching carousel took another spin Monday night as LSU hired Brian Kelly away from Notre Dame. Kelly, who just became the all-time winningest coach in Fighting Irish history this season, leaves Notre Dame with a gaping leadership hole after 12 years at the helm.

Look for Irish defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman to become the interim coach in these turbulent times. Think of it as an audition because the clear No. 1 candidate now has to be Iowa State’s Matt Campbell.

Unlike Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell, Campbell does not face the complication of the upcoming College Football Playoff. Campbell’s season is over, except for a minor bowl game. Campbell has desired the Notre Dame job for a while, according to sources. This is also an ideal time to leave Iowa State considering how hard it is to maintain success there.

Kelly has gone 54-9 at Notre Dame over the last five seasons since overhauling his staff before the 2017 campaign. The next coach will inherit a program that is in the midst of producing its best recruiting class in years. The only question is who that next coach will be.

Let’s take a look at the top candidates to replace Kelly at Notre Dame.

Matt Campbell, Iowa State coach: Before the season, it was known Campbell would consider leaving for only two jobs: Ohio State or Notre Dame. Ohio State isn’t open. Notre Dame just opened. The question is whether the job falls to him. Freeman is on staff. Fickell doesn’t seem like he’s leaving. Veteran NFL Bill Polian has been advocating for Campbell. His son, Brian, is currently Notre Dame’s special teams coach under Kelly.

Marcus Freeman, Notre Dame defensive coordinator: Maybe the easiest route for the Irish in these desperate times. Fickell would be leaving an undefeated team…

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