This dive into a rabbit hole of unsubstantiated and unnecessary speculation is brought to you by the college football offseason.
Notre Dame was the "dream job" but Florida was the "best job" for Urban Meyer in 2004. That's why Meyer, the 40-year-old Utah coach who was the most sought-after man in college football after leading the Utes to a 22-2 record in two seasons, passed on Notre Dame's courtship 14 years ago thanks to money, recruiting and one key relationship.
The relationship was with Florida's new president Bernie Machen. Machen held the same position at Utah when the Utes hired Meyer and, following Machen's arrival in Florida in 2004 and the dismissal of then-head coach Ron Zook in October 2004, the pair reportedly had a gentleman's agreement in place to name Meyer the Gators' next head coach.
"In other words, this entire 'comprehensive' national search was a ruse all along, a smokescreen just so Machen could bring his boy with him from Utah," wrote Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel on Dec. 4, 2004, the day Meyer was announced as Florida head coach.
If Machen wasn't been hired by Florida, it's fair to wonder if Brian Kelly, the successor to Notre Dame's failed backup plan following Meyer's rejection, Charlie Weis, could be in the position that Meyer is now. Had Meyer taken the Notre Dame job in 2004, might Brian Kelly, then a little-known first-year coach at Central Michigan, have been Jim Tressel's successor at Ohio State?
Marinate on this:
Kelly still takes the Cincinnati job in 2007 and is hugely successful, going 33-6 over his first four seasons. Instead of leaving for Notre Dame in 2010 — because Meyer is still there — or another job like Louisville, Tennessee or USC, Kelly stays put for the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Eighteen months later, Jim Tressel resigns at Ohio State and unless Luke Fickell is unexpectedly awarded the job after a year as interim head coach, one of the most attractive jobs in America will be open after the 2011 season.
Ohio State calls Meyer but he's happy in South Bend. They also inquire about Bob Stoops and other bigger names like Gary Patterson but nothing materializes. Meanwhile, Brian Kelly is still dominating the Big East, has five straight 10-win seasons and has been waiting for the perfect job.
Not that crazy, right?