And I know it's not 1988 anymore, and I know the landscape is different and games are 4 hours long, etc.
But what does it take to succeed at Notre Dame?
1) Experience working with the great coaches of the day as an assistant and or player.
Other than Rockne, all of our successful coaches had it.
Leahy coached the 7 blocks of granite under Crowley at Fordham and we all know who his HC as a player was
Ara played for Paul Brown and Sid Gillman and was hired at Miami by Woody Hayes (who left after a year to go to OSU, when Ara was hired to replace him)
Devine coached under Biggie Munn at MSU winning a title in 52
Holtz coached under Woody Hayes at OSU and won a title
Not all of them had long stints as assistants, but they all coached at least 1 year under some of the best coaches of their times at high profile schools.
It's important to be involved with coaches and programs that have demonstrated how to win at the highest level, which we are trying to achieve.
2) They were all HCs at major D1 Football Progams in power conferences.
Leahy was a HC at BC
Ara was a HC at Northwestern
Devine was a HC at ASU and Mizzou
Lou was a HC at NC State and Arkansas
Not only did they run major programs, they did so with historic success. Leahy led BC to an undefeated season and Sugar Bowl win against an undefeated Tennessee team in Barnhill's first year
Ara had some very good seasons at Miami including going undefeated his last year, with a win over Northwestern, who hired him the next year. At Northwestern he had some really bad years, and some good years. Given that the team is sub .500 all time, a winning record is impressive. He also had wins against ND, and Wilkinson at OU, and Woody Hayes at OSU.
Devine went 27-3-1 in his time at ASU including 10-0 in the final year. He never really beat any major teams of note. But moved to Missouri aftewards, who were competing in the Big 8 at the time. He went 93-37-7 at Missouri, who up until then, weren't very good. He replaced Frank Broyles who had gone 5-4-1 the year before Devine arrived.
In 1960, Devine went undefeated at Missouri, beating Wilkinson in Norman, and winning the Orange Bowl. He also beat Devaney in his first year at Nebraska, before losing several to Nebraska in a row. He beat Devaney again in 1967. He was the 68 Gator Bowl against Bear and Alabama, etc.
Lou went 33-12-3 at NC State and went to 4 straight bowl games, going 2-1-1. He also had victories over JoePa at PSU and other teams from outside of the "conference". He then jumped to Arkansas, following a short stint with the J E T S Jets, Jets, Jets. He replaced, Frank Broyles. His first year, he went 11-1 with his only loss to Texas, in Austin, including a big win against OU in the Orange Bowl (and we all know how important that game was for us). He lost again to Texas the following year, and tied UCLA, but beat other ranked teams on the schedule. In 79 he finally beat Texas (#2 at the time). 80 was a tough year, but 81, he beat at the time #1 Texas. He had a couple of down years and Hatfield came in during the 84 season.
Not only did these coaches have experience as Head Coaches in "power" conferences, they were playing and beating some of the best coaches and teams of the day (other than Devine at ASU, who played a bunch of stiffs).
It seems fairly simple. You need to have learned from very good coaches as an assistant. You need to have been a HC at a power 5 conference. You need to demonstrate above historical norm performance. And you need to have demonstrable positive results against the best teams/coaches in the country. It doesn't go much beyond that.
So while you guys are working on your lists, if the coach doesn't fit this criteria, then give him the "this guy here is dead...cross him off then" treatment, and get Lou Brown who's on the other line with a guy about some white walls on the horn. There are a lot of coaches that fit this criteria.