Here is how someone would justify hiring him (not saying it is correct, but this is probably the party line):
- He won at Cincy and he brought ND to the national championship game
- Started well this year, but defense got ravaged by injury. Had to deal with academic issues
- Hasn't had good QB's but still managed to get 12, 9 and 7 (maybe 8) wins out of them the last few years
- He's a good gameday play caller. Plays are open, players don't execute.
- He is bad at special teams and defense, but he can hire for that and he's going to be dealing with professional athletes, not walk ons. He doesn't need to coach them up, they already have been
- ND is similar to the NFL microscope and he hasn't blown himself up in the spotlight. He can talk the talk
We can obviously poke holes in any of the above statements, but I think the most important reality is this. Mike Smith, Marc Trestman, Rex Ryan, Tony Sparano, and Ken Whisenhut are likely gone in the next 2 weeks, and a few more guys might be joining them (lovey Smith, Coughlin, Gus Bradley). The pool of potential replacements isn't deep and doesn't include the best college coaches (Saban, Meyer, Fisher).