The question for the AD, Swarbrick or his successor, is what the strategy for building a national championship program is.
Do we understand the profile of people who should be attracted to Notre Dame - coaches, players, and supporting staff? What kinds of people will embrace its unusual culture and thrive in it? Can the AD articulate the program's built-in strengths as well as its constraints so he can identify candidates who recognize them as well?
Are there leadership principles that must prevail, principles that should apply no matter who the coach is, principles that guide how the head coach and his staff motivate, maintain discipline, relate to the players, and make them better competitors and people?
What positions can Notre Dame always recruit in abundance, and should the style of play be built around them? Should assistants' salaries be focused on those coaches? (The answer is offensive linemen in my opinion, but an AD can conclude otherwise. Wisconsin is successful because it always has outstanding offensive lines. Running backs follow. Imagine that model with just the the baseline for the caliber of quarterback ND is able to recruit.)
How will ND manage oversight of the program to prevent the series of embarrassing events we've experienced during Kelly's tenure? What will be the head coach's role? What will be the head coach's constraints? How will athletic department oversight work with the coach?
I can keep going, but the point is that coaching candidates are a function of a strategy. It was the other way around with Kelly, and the tail has been wagging the dog ever since then. The university has indulged Kelly's priorities, some of which might have improved ND's prospects for success and some that have not. Good idea or not, each initiative has bought time because we have to wait for the alleged positive effect to happen.
Kelly's time at ND is like the three envelopes story.
A manager was hired to improve a failing department. His fired predecessor left him three numbered envelopes with a note telling him to open an envelope whenever things got bad and the rest of the company wasn't happy with his performance.
After a few months' honeymoon period, the department's performance continued to suck, so the manager opened envelope #1. The note inside said, "Blame your predecessor," so he spread the word about how badly the department was managed before his arrival.
Clearly the new manager needed time for his management genius to overcome the previous idiot, so criticism waned... for a while; but lacking improvement several months later, the masses began to grumble. Time for envelope #2 which said, "Reorganize." The manager announced his new team structure, assuring one and all that this was just what his department needed to be more efficient and responsive.
Alas, reorganization made the department different but not better. Performance pressure returned quickly, so the manager opened envelope #3. It said, "Prepare three envelopes."
Kelly's time at Notre Dame feels like the envelopes story except that he has ten, not three. As in the story, none of Kelly's envelopes are next steps in a coherent strategy.
Notre Dame needs an AD who can develop a strategy for championship caliber football. That means an AD who has football background, not an attorney who's full of shit. (Is that redundant?) Then the AD can hire a coach who fits with and buys into the strategy. If that's Matt Rhule or PJ Fleck, so be it; but it might be another coach we haven't considered but one who will succeed at Notre Dame because he can execute a winning strategy.