Last night Fr. Jenkins, Kevin White, and former player (and current ND benefactor) Jim Morse talked to Tom Clements in Buffalo, and the South Bend Trib has it that they'll talk to him again today. No word on what was discussed. Maybe they chatted about the weather, or what the current hotspots on Chippewa Street are. I wonder if the open coaching job came up.
With his popularity never lower and second-guessing of his strategy seldom higher, Shanahan must now contemplate what was unthinkable when his team was winning Super Bowls. If the decision were left to Shanahan, would he definitely want to coach the Broncos again next year? "What I'd like to do," said Shanahan, deftly sidestepping the inquiry, "is really talk about the Dolphins." There is an NFL coaching vacancy in Miami, but somehow I don't think Shanahan was seeking a Florida address to mail his résumé and references. The reeling Broncos have a home game Sunday against the Dolphins. Where Shanahan will be coaching in 2005 is a topic he would most definitely like to avoid.
Meanwhile, ND is about to interview Charlie Weis, and it could be as soon as today or Saturday. They've asked for and been granted permission by the Patriots to contact Weis, who's reportedly expressed interest in the job.
But the big story yesterday involved Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan. A report on Fox Sports television out of Denver claimed that Shanahan had been offered the ND job, and was "likely to take it." The money was rumored to be around $3.5 million per year for 5 years. The report never appeared in print or on the web, so only the folks watching the report live got to hear it firsthand.
BGS (like many others) heard this story a couple of days ago and was sitting on it, but if you perused any of the ND message boards yesterday morning, you knew that something was up and the story had been leaked. Subtle hints were being dropped and scrutiny was focused on this article from Wednesday, in which Shanahan hemmed and hawed about his future with the Broncos:
So, on Wednesday, he's zigzagging to avoid questions about his future. But then Fox Sports went public with their Shanahan-to-ND story, and the Shanahan camp scrambled to put together a statement. Here's what they came up with, late last night:
With his popularity never lower and second-guessing of his strategy seldom higher, Shanahan must now contemplate what was unthinkable when his team was winning Super Bowls.
If the decision were left to Shanahan, would he definitely want to coach the Broncos again next year?
"What I'd like to do," said Shanahan, deftly sidestepping the inquiry, "is really talk about the Dolphins."
There is an NFL coaching vacancy in Miami, but somehow I don't think Shanahan was seeking a Florida address to mail his résumé and references.
The reeling Broncos have a home game Sunday against the Dolphins.
Where Shanahan will be coaching in 2005 is a topic he would most definitely like to avoid.
"As I said all along, I have four years remaining on my contract, and I intend to honor it," Shanahan said through a team spokesman Thursday night.That's it. No mention of Notre Dame. No mention of being contacted; no mention of not being contacted. No mention of being offered the job. No mention of any contract details. Nada. Zilch. For all it seemed, this could have been a response to ongoing speculation that Shanny was going to simply hang it up in Denver at the end of this season anyway, not a direct refutation of an actual job offer from the Irish. (Of course, that didn't prevent headline writers from recycling another "Irish spurned by X" jab.)
Compare and contrast with what Jim Fassel had to say about a similar thanks-but-no-thanks earlier this week:
“I have no plans to pursue or accept a college job this year...I want to end some of the speculation regarding my coaching future...It’s flattering to have my name associated with elite and very special collegiate programs. However, my intention is to return to the NFL as a head coach next season. My passion is to help a franchise go to and win the Super Bowl."Seems pretty clear. Even Mooch spelled it out that the Irish had called him, and he had declined to talk about the job.
So what's going on? For one thing, maybe there really wasn't anything substantial between ND and Shanahan. This seems highly unlikely, however: Shanahan's been a longtime fan of the Irish, having grown up Irish Catholic in Franklin Park, Ill. (a Chicago 'burb) and all that. Back in the Great Search Fiasco of '01, Shanny was consistently reported to be talking with ND about the job, and even the details of the proposed contract (10 years, $30 million) leaked to the press.
So, taking account of Shanahan's purported fondness for Notre Dame, and knowing that ND was talking to other NFL coaches as well, I think it's safe to assume there was at least some gauging of interest between the two parties. That said, at this point it's tough to say if actual numbers were agreed upon, and whether an official contract was offered. We've heard that there was an offer on the table, and that Shanahan was mulling it over when the news broke yesterday. But who knows...sources, even good ones, have been all wet before, and we know from painful experience that a deal is never done until you sign on the line that is dotted.
(A poster over on UHND had an interesting take on the situation, saying that the Shanahan statement is posturing over buyout money with Pat Bowlen, the Broncos owner. Seems as plausible as any number of other scenarios, I suppose.)
It's my hope that Mike is still thinking about it, and that his statement last night was just an effort to quell rampant speculation in the middle of the Broncos' playoff run (they're 7-5, just on the bubble). He certainly seemed to leave the door open, albeit a crack.