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Next Notre Dame football coach odds: Marcus Freeman, Luke Fickell, Matt Campbell, Pat Fitzgerald favorites to replace Brian Kelly

In another college football stunner, Notre Dame is now looking for a coach.
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If the news Sunday that Lincoln Riley was leaving Oklahoma for Southern Cal as its new football coach was a shock, the follow-up Monday that Brian Kelly was leaving Notre Dame for LSU was an absolute stunner – of course, LSU also was trying to lure Riley, so all this is tied together. The coveted Fighting Irish job is thus open and SportsLine offers odds on the next coach in South Bend, and it seems likely that it will be one of current defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman, Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell or Iowa State coach Matt Campbell.

Kelly, 60, became the winningest coach in Notre Dame history earlier this season, surpassing Knute Rockne, and he got a 10-year, $95 million deal that also includes incentives from LSU, which will officially introduce Kelly at a news conference Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET. Kelly will not coach the Irish in a bowl game – and they might make the College Football Playoff. No previous Notre Dame coach has ever left the Irish to take a job at another school. Only last week, Kelly joked that unless a fairy godmother came along with a $250 million check, he would retire at the school.

Fickell and Campbell also have been linked to Oklahoma and were among the SportsLine favorites Monday, but there are numerous reports that the Sooners are close to hiring Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables, and he was the overall favorite on that prop.

It's hard to imagine Fickell leaving UC right now (Kelly came to South Bend from Cincinnati) with that school poised to reach the College Football Playoff – thanks in part to a win at Notre Dame -- and soon bound for the Big 12. If UC makes the playoff, Fickell wouldn't be available until early January at the earliest and the Irish likely wouldn't want to wait that long.

It has been widely reported that Campbell has turned down other jobs because he was waiting for either Notre Dame or Ohio State to open. If you aren't from the Midwest, it's hard to explain the allure of Notre Dame.

Pete Sampson, who is the Notre Dame beat writer for The Athletic, wrote that "there will be some momentum among decision-makers at the University to elevate Freeman. First-time head coaches generally don't work here, but Notre Dame is in a more stable place today than previous hires."

Freeman came to Notre Dame after last season from Cincinnati where he worked under Fickell – Freeman also was offered the defensive coordinator job at LSU, ironically, but chose to stay in the Midwest where his entire coaching career has taken place.

While Freeman has never been a head coach, he is considered an elite recruiter on top of a stellar coordinator and could help save this year's class if he's elevated. He should be named the interim coach for the bowl game at any time now. If Notre Dame were to hire Fickell, that probably would lead Cincinnati to hiring Freeman as its next head coach.

The last Notre Dame DC to be promoted to head coach was Bob Davie before the 1997 season. Davie lasted five seasons after going 35-25. The last time Notre Dame hired a coach without head coaching experience was Charlie Weis in 2005.

Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald has never indicated a desire to leave his alma mater for another college job, but, again, Notre Dame is different. Fitzgerald has been linked to the Chicago Bears when they fire Matt Nagy after this season.

A few years ago, Urban Meyer would have been the favorite here, but a few recent embarrassments in the NFL likely eliminate him from serious Irish consideration even if the Jaguars would let him walk away from his contract.

Via SportsLine oddsmakers: Who will be the next Notre Dame full-time football coach?

  • Marcus Freeman Even
  • Luke Fickell +200
  • Matt Campbell +500
  • Pat Fitzgerald +900
  • Mark Stoops +1000
  • Jeff Brohm +1500
  • Matt Rhule +1800
  • Bob Stoops +2000
  • Urban Meyer +2500

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