There was some buzz going around this morning after a radio report and Tweet by WKZO's Matt Buck stating that sources had told him Notre Dame had granted permission to Western Michigan to talk to the ND coaching staff. Immediate speculation centered around Chuck Martin, and although we wouldn't doubt WMU would have Martin high on their list, we have reasons to believe that he is an extreme long-shot as he would be looking at higher positions.
We don't want to eliminate Martin completely, but let's assume two things here for the sake of argument. First, that Kathy Beauregard is indeed conducting (or looking to conduct) interview(s) with current Notre Dame staff members. And second, that Chuck Martin's name isn't in the ring for the job.
So who else could WMU look at in South Bend?
Mike Denbrock- Denbrock is another member of the ND coaching staff that has spent significant time with Brian Kelly. As you might imagine, this includes significant time at Grand Valley State (including as the GVSU offensive coordinator from 1992-95). Currently, he serves as a wide receivers coach and the passing game coordinator for the Fighting Irish. His rather impressive resume includes accolades from Tom Lemming (on his Assistant Coaches of the Year list in 2011) and Rivals.com (a top 25 recruiter following Signing Day 2012). He has extensive roots in the West Michigan area, hailing from Homer and graduating from GVSU. While he doesn't have the traditional BCS coordinator role that leads to head coaching jobs in the MAC, his experience coaching at a high level and recruiting extensively could potentially overshadow that.
Mike Elston- While we don't consider Elston to be quite as likely of a candidate as Denbrock, there are still some interesting aspects to his career that warrant mention. He'd be more likely if the Broncos are leaning towards a defensive coach-- most people are assuming otherwise, but that may have as much to do with the recent tradition of the WMU program as with any inside knowledge of the search. Elston's defensive line has continued to improve year-over-year since he arrived at Notre Dame in 2010, and he had impressive results in difficult circumstances at Cincinnati in 2009. He also has Michigan and MAC ties, having lettered for the University of Michigan and made a coaching stop at CMU.
Elston probably isn't ready for a head coaching job, but he could be one to watch for a higher coordinator position if Denbrock (or Martin) were to end up at WMU.