Notre Dame Football: Top Head Coaches of the Modern Era

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With the firing of Charlie Weis and the poor records displayed by Bob Davie at New Mexico, the two former Notre Dame coaches demonstrated  that success after Notre Dame is elusive. Willingham also failed at Washington following his “quick” firing at Notre Dame.

If you are successful at Notre Dame, you can achieve success at other places like Lou Holtz at South Carolina.

Where do these coaches stack up compared to each other? Comparing the numbers of Ara Parseghian and Lou Holtz is quite easy. Determining whether Bob Davie was better than Charlie Weis is more difficult.

This list will only encompass the modern era of Notre Dame football; from Ara Parseghian to Brian Kelly. Here are the Head Coaches ranked from #8 to 1:

Nov 11, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Tyrone Willingham listens to reporters during the Playoff selection committee press conference at Marriott Wardman Park. Mandatory Credit: Paul Frederiksen-USA TODAY Sports

8. Tyrone Willingham (2002-2004)

Winning Percentage: .583

National Titles: 0 

Bowl Games: 2

The “Molder of Men” set Notre Dame football back significantly in terms of talent. Although he recruited Brady Quinn and Jeff Samardzija, Notre Dame averaged a class ranking of 24th under Willingham. His best class ranked 12th. His worst fell at 91st. Yes, 91st; right between Tulane and Louisiana Tech. His first year at Notre Dame, the Irish began the season 8-0 before dropping 3 of their last 5 games. Following the 8-0 start, Willingham went 13-15. Notre Dame canned Willingham in December 2004. The move faced a great deal of criticism. The media claimed the move smacked of racism. Willingham proved he was not a competent coach by leading Washington to an 11-37 record in 4 sad Seattle years.