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REPORT: Shrewsberry Emerges As A “Primary Candidate” For Notre Dame Job

Another day, another Notre Dame report.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Basketball Media Day Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Following up on last week’s Jon Rothstein report that Penn State is expected to offer Micah Shrewsberry a “lucrative” extension, Rothstein is now reporting that the Nittany Lions will have to fend off the Fighting Irish to keep Shrewsberry’s services

The wording here is important — “a” primary candidate versus “the” primary candidate should be a relatively good sign that this isn’t a “when not if” situation. The fact that Rothstein reiterated Penn State’s commitment to keeping him is also a relatively good sign, though perhaps that is just my blue and white bias.

There have been other reports linking Shrewsberry to Notre Dame. David Jones of PennLive started us off yesterday, while ESPN’s “latest buzz” on Shrewsberry indicates that he’s expected to make a decision within the next 36 hours.

While the Notre Dame job isn’t a Top 25 job by any stretch of the imagination, it’s proven over the last 25-ish years that a competent coach can pretty much reach the NCAA tourney year-in and year-out. From 2007 to 2017, Mike Brey and Notre Dame made March Madness nine out of 11 years, going beyond the first round five times with two of those times making it to the Elite Eight. Now sure, there are some academic hurdles to clear at Notre Dame and the Fighting Irish aren’t going to fool anyone for being Illinois or Alabama when it comes to NIL, but there’s a clear, recent history of this being a rather high floor program — even if that comes with a lower ceiling.

From the Penn State side of things, it seems like Pat Kraft and Co. are doing what they can do to keep Shrewsberry around, but here’s the crux of the matter: Rome was not built in one night. Before Kraft, Penn State basketball was not a focus for decade-after-decade. The good news is that whether Shrewsberry stays or not, it seems like the tide is turning in that the Nittany Lions will be making the conscious decision to be competitive in basketball. The tough part is that for Shrewsberry to see that through, there is going to have to be a “leap of faith” of sorts because unless Terry Pegula or some other mega-donor comes through with a $2 million NIL budget, there’s not much Penn State can do in the immediate next 2 days to ensure that the Penn State job is better than the Notre Dame job.

Next year? Maybe. Next two or three years? Sure. But again, that will take some trust and belief from Shrews that Kraft delivers on promises and improvements.