Notre Dame has built its chance on reaching the national championship game through defense this year.
The No. 3 Irish (10-0) are tied with Alabama for the nation's top scoring defense, giving up 11.1 points per game. Notre Dame is also No. 6 in rushing defense, giving up 95.9 yards per game, eighth in total defense, giving up 295.2 yards per game, and tied for ninth in sacks, averaging 3.1, entering Saturday's home game against Wake Forest(5-5).
With those kind of statistics, it is not hard to imagine defensive coordinator Bob Diaco having more than a few suitors after the season to take over their head coaching jobs.
Coach Brian Kelly said he would not stand in Diaco's way if the defensive assistant wanted to leave Notre Dame to take over another program.
"I want to provide all my coaches an opportunity," Kelly said. "If it advances their career to a leadership position, we want to be able to give them that opportunity. But quite frankly, we don't spend much time talking about it. You know Bob. He doesn't want to talk about it. He didn't come to Notre Dame to be the head coach somewhere else. He came to Notre Dame to help win a national championship.
"We got a lot of the work left. But if the right situation comes for Bob and he comes to me and asks me to give him advice on it, I certainly will."
Diaco has been learning a little more about being a head coach this year as he was promoted to assistant head coach before the season.
"I think he clearly understands that it's more than just fielding a team on Saturday," Kelly said of how he has seen Diaco grow into a potential head coach. "He did before he got here. That's why he's been with me. He just has a great sense of Notre Dame and what Notre Dame means, and that it's not just about football.
"I think any great head coach is going to have to have more than just understanding it's Xs and Os. You've got to understand the players and the university and how to work within that entire setting. I think Bob really knows that well."