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A few thoughts from under the brown paper bag.

by Kevin @, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 11:02
edited by Kevin, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 11:13

I wrote a long post on NDN, only to see that Coffey had already written basically the same thing. But he didn't write it here, so I'll paste it for the audience it should have been directed at in the first place. It is overwrought, but it comes from the heart. Be gentle.

There appears to be an appetite (on NDN) for a reckoning.

That's fair. Those of us who have so aggressively criticized Brian Kelly and his supporters can't really cut off this line of discussion. So I'll share a few thoughts of my own.

I met Kelly before his first season at ND. He gave a nice speech at our local Notre Dame club golf outing. Through a friend of a friend, I was able to talk to him a bit. He was very appreciative of ND alumni and fan support, and he seemed excited for the chance to do big things at ND. I have heard he does not bear warm feelings toward the University of Michigan, and he has a particular interest in beating Michigan and Michigan State. All of that is good.

I don't care for his public persona. But his management-speak and Irish temper aren't existential threats. At most, they're an aggravating factor when things are going poorly. I don't think I'll mind his demeanor after any future wins against Michigan.

If I never warm to him the way we have Holtz or Ara, that's OK. My personal investment in this program will remain unhealthy. I believe ND attracts a better class of student-athlete, good people like Te'o, Nix, Quinn, Weaver, and Jarious Jackson, who make ND a better place by coming here. I love what this program means to my group of friends; it is the center of a bond we will carry to our graves.

My goal for Kelly's tenure remains the same: 15 years of undeniable, unbearable success. I want him to cleanse college football with the fire of a syphillic piss. By air or land, I want his teams to demoralize the lesser men who choose lesser schools. I don't want Brian Kelly to be fired, because I don't want him to deserve to be fired. I want him to deserve a statue.

That goal may come as a surprise, for good reason. The previous two seasons have been toxic. His back has been against the wall here since he was coaching Thursday night games at Cincinnati. At times, the treatment he's received has been unfair. He has born frustrations he was hired to cure, with very little time to do so.

But he has also made mistakes, both in doing and in handling his job. The first expectation I had from him was discipline. His predecessor was a wonk, not a coach, and his team was not tough enough to win tough games. Kelly's first two teams were still prone to costly mistakes. His staff was woefully unprepared for the first Navy game. Odd decision-making hurt us in games we should have won. And Kelly did not demonstrate enough personal discipline. He should have been criticized.

But a little more discipline would also have served some of us. Injuries took a toll in 2010, and yet the team eventually rebounded at the end of the year. Strange, horrible turnovers played important roles in two big losses in 2011. It was too early to pronounce doom: having agreed two eight-win years wasn't grounds for firing, we should have approached this season with more open minds.

Now, things are looking better. Both team and coach have that discipline we expected from the start. They are winning games they would have lost last year. After looking so unsteady before, Kelly's conviction in himself and the team has produced a group that believes it can win a national title this year.

If you always saw this coming, or just considered it possible, then more credit to you. I didn't think this was possible. I don't mean to deny anyone a reckoning, but being wrong about this season hasn't made it any less fun.

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