Like almost everything else commanding a lion's share of headlines this season, the Notre Dame coaching search is veering sharply toward anticlimax: By all indications, the white smoke should be pouring from Touchdown Jesus to announce Brian Kelly as the Irish's new boss by the weekend. The ascension could come as soon as Friday, if the Chicago Tribune is to be believed, with Cincinnati's team banquet tonight serving as Kelly's official going-away party at the program he led to the three best individual seasons in school history in successive years. The South Bend Tribune is warming up to Kelly as the guy, and the Cincinnati Enquirer is slowly preparing UC fans for the inevitable.
For the sake of drama, though, the speculation and misdirection is still evolving quite nicely. Behind Door No. 1, we have an array of potential hitches in the Kelly-Notre Dame union: Kelly is reportedly pro-choice on abortion, guaranteeing protests from some small segment of ND's Catholic base. At Central Michigan, he was reprimanded for defending players accused of obstructing justice in an involuntary manslaughter case based on their background. Shortly after taking over Cincinnati, he had to deal with several players accused of taping a sexual assault in a dorm. They like things squeaky clean around the Golden Dome, don't they? Or maybe Kelly is telling Notre Dame what he requires.
Behind Door No. 2, you have UConn coach Randy Edsall, last seen in South Bend choking up after an overtime win that all but sealed Weis' fate last month, whose candidacy is allegedly gaining steam. Edsall reportedly met with Notre Dame officials Wednesday, where there was a "mutual interest" in his prospects, while some observers were stacking him up against Kelly by the numbers.
And if not Edsall, why not Tommy Tuberville? This thing can't really be that obvious, can it?
We'll find out in the next 24-48 hours, during which time Kelly remains the clear frontrunner to accept the job. Tonight's gathering with the Bearcats could be the moment of truth: If we don't have an answer about Kelly's immediate future coming out of the team banquet, the situation could get chaotic going into the weekend. Which would be a welcome change, actually.