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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.

big picture


Reckoning? Now?!

by ndbk32 @, Los Angeles, Thursday, October 18, 2012, 10:11 @ Kevin



Not to say it's altogether wrong. But it's certainly premature. Have we learned nothing from Ty's 8-0, or Weis' contract extension halfway through his first season? I don't think this year is iron pyrite like those years, but I do know we're only halfway through it. And I'm a Kelly apologist.


Man, hope we don't go 6-6.

by ⌂ @, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 16:22 @ Kevin

[ No text ]

Sometimes I rhyme slow sometimes I rhyme quick.


This all annoys me to no end.

by ⌂ @, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 17:25 @

There's been some good things said in this thread, but...

1) The fact they need to be said at any point is, as Jay has said, "a huge waste of mental energy."


2) Shooting the reckoning wad WAY TOO EARLY. Hey, maybe some folks feel remorse for not giving Kelly a fair chance and jumping to conclusions way too early, but there's still a half a season left, and plenty of opportunity to "prove" that remorse wrong.

I'm not saying people shouldn't have given the guy a chance, but we're only 6 games in, and it's entirely within the realm of possibility to win on 2 or 3 more. What happens then? Will all those who have been "happily eating crow" (as I keep seeing across the internet) then return to their rage and skepticism? Will the vitriol make a comeback with great intensity, seeking to not just poison the well, but to go thermonuclear on the well? Call me a skeptic, but I bet if the Irish lose so Oklahoma, SoCal, and at least 1 more team, the majority of those people undergoing a reckoning at the moment will go right back to their unvarnished pessimism.

So why don't we all just keep our powder dry until the end of the season?

Sometimes I rhyme slow sometimes I rhyme quick.


Agree. In the span of a few games.....

by bk, Thursday, October 18, 2012, 04:44 @

It feels like I've gone from being on the (chastised and relatively isolated) optimistic side of the Notre Dame fan spectrum to the negative side of that curve. But my position hasn't changed.

I believe Kelly is a good college coach and was (in the context of the time when he was hired) a good hire. I believe our program was so broken and lagging so far behind in many structural ways (mostly of the metaphorical variety like training table and even mental toughness and attitude) that our need for stability far outweighs our need to "win now." So even if Kelly were to put together no season better than 9-3, so long as he was moving the program forwards and maintaining a foundation, the program needed him here for at least five years and really probably a few years more than that to avoid e perception of a continuing coaching carousel.

I don't think Kelly is perfect. Put his problems--to the extent that aren't just superficial things like his manner of speaking in public--are mostly operational as opposed to capital. He calls some head scratching plays or worse has a horrible game plan from time to time. But only in the cumulative will these erode the foundation of a program that is trying to rise from our level.

So the most frustrating thing for me about the conversations about Kelly until recently was their extrapolating a few isolated play calls or stray remarks after frustrating losses and turning those into a basis to jeopardize the foundation that was being built through a plan that has proven effective at least three other times. One pass call somehow deserved more weight than proven coaching experience, solid recruiting, improved fundamentals on the field, and markedly developed players under the new coaching staff.

Now I see people running to embrace Kelly and eat their crow. And it makes no more sense to me than did the eagerness to see him gone. This season isn't over. This team has had a few breaks and a very good defense has masked some significant short comings. Sure, Kelly's adjusted his approach (or at least has seemed to). But he still makes the same head scratching calls that got people so mad they seemed ready to shit on his doorstep and punch his wife in the face. Swinging to the other extreme now will only leave folks susceptible to swing back the other way (and in an embarrassing manner) when something goes wrong. And something will go wrong this season.

At this point, I am pleased that our current record and on-the-field performance reflects the progess I thought I saw in the program. I am realistic that there is still a lot of work to be done if we mean to win the whole thing. And it may not be this guy who can do it. But whoever follows him will (if people remain calm) start from a much better position--one of stability--than Kelly did.


Let me be clear, I have a binder of thoughts about this

by Greg, sittin on the dock of the bay, Thursday, October 18, 2012, 10:19 @ bk

While I currently have no reason to believe that Brian Kelly will lead ND to a football national championship, to me that is not a big deal. I always thought that Kelly was a great hire because he had built up programs from mediocrity to a level that surpassed any recent successes on their parts. If Kelly can be at ND for another 10 years and never do better than an 11-1 regular season that causes us to miss out on the championship game, I think that his twelve-year run will have been worth it for ND because he'll leave ND with a strong program that is annually in the national conversation. Conversely, if Kelly were to win the championship this year and then rest on his laurels while things fell apart around him, ND would not be appreciably better off than it was when he arrived (other than having a new line to paint on the PLACT sign and all of us having a new t-shirt or sweatshirt to wear). And what Brian Kelly always brought to the table, in my opinion, was the ability to actually rebuild a program that had been so screwed up that it didn't know what or where it was.

I was happy when Kelly was hired; I viewed the various comings-and-goings of the past two years as part of the growth process that needed to happen to make ND football back into a strong program (I cringed at many of them, but accepted them as part of the process); and today I'm happy that we appear to be a strong program. I'd like to see us go at least 4-2 the rest of the way (and win the bowl game) before I start to evolve my thinking and begin to expect that Kelly might someday win a championship. But today, I'm pretty happy with what he's done for the program and I think he'll be a very strong long-term coach for us.


the intricate choreography of message forums

by HumanRobot @, Cybertron, Thursday, October 18, 2012, 05:47 @ bk

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You last line is the wise policy

by hobbs, San Diego, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 18:10 @

NOTHING has been accomplished at 6-0. Rutgers is currently 6-0 and I bet most people couldn't tell me their coaches name. Kelly seems like he is on the right track but he still hasn't had a magical, by ND's definition, season. Until he does the wisdom of his hiring is still open for debate.

That said given the harshness of the rhetoric during the hiring process a little bloodletting is to be expected.


I am a fan of the reckoning crew

by DCT, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 16:09 @ Kevin
edited by DCT, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 17:02

For the obvious reasons.

Kelly wasn't given a fair shot at the door. He was ridiculed, it was personal, and it wasn't necessary.

As Jay typed, Kelly deserved a fair shot. Nothing more, but a fair shot.

Now the narrative among those who wanted him burned at the stake is "Kelly has changed".


Well, for one-- All coaches change. At least the good ones do. The adapt to personnel, the personality of their respective teams, but their message remains consistent.

And I don't think Kelly's message has changed since the day he was hired. That stuff about "RKG's" and playing tough defense---- things he said the day he was HIRED!, are now being proven to work.

So, yeah-- there remains a segment of douchebags that have taken to "Brian Kelly has changed" as a way of explaining away their behavior.

And by douchebags, I'm talking about the small, subset of morons that had an obvious agenda, and acted like assholes toward anyone who tried to be positive.

If some blowback comes their way, I think they've earned it.

Actually it's more than that. Fuck them---let them get crucified. They're spineless dicks anyway.


With all due respect

by JRT, Island of Misfit Toys, Thursday, October 18, 2012, 11:20 @ DCT

I'm not sure what any of this has to do with this board's ongoing conversation.


Well, we can at least have satisfaction in knowing

by Bill, Southern California, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 17:22 @ DCT

that the guys who put themselves up on a pedestal, touted their superior intelligence and told everybody that they were the guys that everybody should be listening to will forever now be known as the guys who were "wrong about Kelly". Everybody knows who they are and forever will remember them for their position on this.


Even as they race to revise history.

by River, Hell of the Upside Down Sinners, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 17:45 @ Bill

That is the lamest part in the whole exercise. They actually think people are buying the big pile of steaming shit they are selling.

Good times.


I was right about Willingham and Weis

by Greg, sittin on the dock of the bay, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 17:53 @ River

They just changed from the persons they were when we hired them, both at some point after their early successes at ND. Had they not changed, they each would have won eleventy-threeve national titles. But they changed and so they didn't. But I was right the first time around, you know, before they changed.


Spot on.

by River, Hell of the Upside Down Sinners, Thursday, October 18, 2012, 07:58 @ Greg

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by Bill, Southern California, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 17:56 @ Greg

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That sounds just miserable

by Kevin @, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 17:40 @ Bill

In more ways than one. Well, no, not really. Just in one way.


And for the record

by Bill, Southern California, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 17:54 @ Kevin

I have no problem and take no issue with the sizeable community of people who had doubts, qualms, criticisms, concerns, etc. about Kelly either at the time of his hire or at anytime over the last several years. Heck, they can still feel that way.

The issue again, to me, was the arrogance, condescension and nastiness that pretty much destroyed the second best (long live TPG!) ND message board and turned it into a wasteland of constructive discussion and thought. Those folks can live in infamy.



by DCT, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 18:38 @ Bill

I think it is/was perfectly reasonably and understandable that many had questions regarding Kelly.

Especially when it came to recruiting. I was hopeful, but I don't think anyone thought it would turn out the way it has.

And when we started to lay turds against Navy and Tulsa, questioning Kelly was the sane position.

When you add the 2010/2011 seasons to the nightmare of the previous 13 years, I don't think very many saw this season coming.

Where they lose me, and why I really have little use or respect for the moron brigade is the tone they started with. They attacked Kelly for every reason they could think of, they wanted him fired, they used the Sullivan tragedy to suggest it could be grounds for Kelly's dismissal, and every single week they offered up another potential new coach.

And instead of showing some character, and just throwing out "Hey, I was wrong, sorry 'bout that", they are now changing the tune to "Brian Kelly changed and he is now the coach we always wanted for ND".

Seriously. Fuck them.


has his prospectus (in your eyes) changed much since August?

by HumanRobot @, Cybertron, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 14:13 @ Kevin

I guess the real big deals are that he's beat Michigan and Stanford, which are two monkeys off his shoulder. Is it just those wins? Is it the demeanor? Is it that he's winning with defense?

As somebody who was probably in The Original Kellylovers, I think this year has been fun and great but I'm worried about getting too excited too soon and that things will get toxic again once we lose a game or two this year. The most likely outcome of this season looks like either 10-2 or 11-1. Has Kelly made it then?


I think Kelly has made it already

by BPH, San Diego, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 15:43 @ HumanRobot

Because what he's doing this season is similar to what Holtz did in 1988: winning at a high level a year ahead of schedule. Just as 1989 was the year that many program observers pointed to as Holtz's first real chance to contend for a title, so too did many people say that about Kelly in 2013 ("his" QB in the second year as a starter, stud recruits from his first full class reaching upperclassmen status). So even if Kelly doesn't win it all as Holtz did in his third year, he has set the program up to continue its upward trajectory and be in BCS contention for many seasons going forward.


Lets say we go 4-3 the rest of the way

by FunkDoctorSpock, Your Nightmares, B* tches, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 19:46 @ BPH

That would leave Kelly at 26-13 and .667. The improvement in winning percentage over Weis's last three years (16-21 and .432) would be +.235. If we went 3-4 it would 25-14 and +.209.

By comparison, percentage of improvement after three years:

Carroll at SC: +.223
Saban/LSU: +.213
Saban/Bama: +.210
Meyer at UF: +.190
Holtz at ND: +.186
Harbaugh at SU: +.165


I thought he needed around 9 wins to keep moving forward.

by Kevin @, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 14:20 @ HumanRobot

With some adjustment if catastrophes beyond his control hit. He's going to hit that, and probably more, so that's good.

Next year will bring its own post-Te'o question marks, both tangible and intangible. But at least we should be marching forward, so that's good. I have no idea if Kelly will win a title at ND, but I no longer think he can't.


HIJACK: How many wins do you think we will get?

by Pat (Moco), Slave Den, Brian Cook's Basement, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 14:42 @ Kevin

Remaining games:
--Southern Cal

Here's my cursory analysis:

Win by 1000:

Win by ~50:
--Southern Cal


got it

by HumanRobot @, Cybertron, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 14:29 @ Kevin

So the big deal is your last sentence "I have no idea if Kelly will win a title at ND, but I no longer think he can't." I'm still not sure Kelly's yet shown the ability to win that huge game against an elite team, but that's why you play the game!

Figuring that we go 10-2, I'm hoping we wind up in a match-up against SEC team #2. Even if we lose, I think Kelly and company would take away an awful lot of information so they're hopefully prepared when they get to that stage.

To me, the biggest thing Kelly has shown this year is an ability and willingness to manage games into victories that he hadn't in 2010-2011. So we're not mired in 8-5dom for eternity, but it's anybody's guess if we can win the big enchilada.


It helps to not fumble at the goal line

by IrishGuard, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 15:36 @ HumanRobot

or otherwise make repeated, dumb throwing errors.

The extent to which Kelly is responsible for the turnover turnaround is up for debate, but I'm not sure he should get anything more than 50% of the blame for last year or 50% of the praise for this year. Less is probably closer to the answer.


any reckoning should be wholly unnecessary

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 13:45 @ Kevin

if people had been sane and sensible and had considered Brian Kelly worth a shot. Not a guaranteed savior, just: worth a shot. Worth a shot, as in, Brady Hoke was worth a shot, or Jim Tressel from Youngstown was worth a shot, or defensive coordinator Bob Stoops was worth a shot, or coach of non-scholarship division III University of San Diego Jim Harbaugh was worth a shot. Kelly's coaching profile was better than any of those guys. And yet, not only was he discounted, but there was a real, if ineffectual campaign to disqualify him as a candidate from the outset. That's what was so fucking silly, and why some people now feel the need to explain themselves (or to rationalize past bad behavior).

With a bit of circumspection they could have spared themselves the crucible of a public reckoning, just when they should be reveling in such a marvelous, exciting season. What a waste of mental energy.


I think have shared this with Jay

by Bryan (IrishCavan), Howth Castle and Environs, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 19:42 @ Jay

and it is what has kept me somewhat confident that Kelly was a good coach and not the reincarnation of TyBob Weis. As a former NCAA faculty rep I got to know (on a very superficial level) a decent number of ADs and football coaches. Every single person I have spoken with about Kelly assured me he would make ND an elite program again. There was no hesitation whatsoever. He is highly thought of in his field. Even when I had my doubts the last couple of years, I kept going back to what those folks have told me about him.


Man, that was beautiful

by Jack @, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 16:47 @ Jay

And I'm not just saying that because you own the place.


All that dovetailed with the issues of coaching mentors...

by BPH, San Diego, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 14:00 @ Jay

and major program experience. Kelly had neither in his background. Seemingly every other peer coach in the nation, including the ones you mentioned, did. So for some, it mattered not a whit what Kelly had accomplished at GVSU, CMU or Cincy. Why? Because that track record wouldn't translate to the highest level.

I suppose it makes some sense, but I never put any stock in it. Of course, I'm one of the original Kellylovers.


But another issue is

by IrishGuard, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 14:18 @ BPH

the timing of Kelly's hire relative to Lou's firing. The question of whether Kelly was "worth a shot" can't be posed in a historical vacuum; Davie may have been "worth a shot" because we were not too far removed from success on the level of Notre Dame's historical standards.

Fast forward a completely mediocre 15 years, however, and people were worrying about our ability to field a national championship caliber team ever again. The stakes rose with each successive hire after after Davie, as the memories of past success were rapidly fading in the public's collective conscious, to say nothing of that of recruits'. By the time Charlie bottomed out, I think it was perfectly reasonable to conclude that it was no longer plausible to "take a shot" at someone who had not already achieved at a very high level because it was plausible to believe that we'd never play at the highest level again.

Now, Kelly may have been about as "high level" successful as we realistically were going to get, given the immobility of successful top-tier coaches generally, but I certainly don't blame anyone for looking back at a wasted 15 years being very skeptical about Kelly's ability to wipe away the stain of those years on the program.

And for two seasons, Kelly was performing (which is not to say building a foundation) on par with his immediate predecessors. A few decent wins. Losses to teams we had no business losing to. Recruiting well. Making boneheaded in-game play calls. Blowing up on the sidelines and making some impolitic statements in the press, etc.

I know there are assholes "over there", but starting 6-0 shouldn't give rise to a collective "I told you so, ACross". Not yet, at least.


Achieving at a high level is an important data point

by BPH, San Diego, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 15:38 @ IrishGuard

But if that was all that was important to Swarbrick, we wouldn't have ended up with Stoops (count me in the group that contends that was never going to happen). We would have ended up with someone like Tuberville or Ferentz. Swarbrick wisely considered that Kelly had succeeded at multiple stops, had succeeded wildly in a BCS conference (if the redheaded stepchild of BCS conferences) and had made player evaluation and development his calling card.


I agree

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 15:37 @ IrishGuard

Severe desperation probably explains a lot of the irrationality.


Adding in Ego and Hubris explains a whole lot more

by KelleyCook @, quite pleased with Nov 8th, Thursday, October 18, 2012, 06:14 @ Jay

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But some of the desperation was a bit of hyperbole

by Domer99, John Wesley Powell's Expedition Island, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 14:37 @ IrishGuard
edited by Domer99, Thursday, October 18, 2012, 07:01

I think Jay was simply being deferential saying that Kelly was "worth a shot." Fact is, he was easily one of the top 3 "available" candidates. And you have to caveat his candidacy as such because some guys just aren't going to move, and it's unreasonable to think it possible.

There are a lot of situations that could be deemed similar to ND. Look at Alabama prior to Saban:

- DuBose 4 years (only one acceptable);
- Franchione 2 years before he opted out of a bad sanction situation;
- Mike Shula 4 pretty bad years.

Look at USC prior to Carroll:

- 6 up and down years of Larry Smith (in order to do this justice I should list out Ted Tollner's tenure too);
- 5 average to shitty years with John Robinson the Deuce;
- 3 below average to mediocre years with Paul Hackett.

We shouldn't pretend that the Chicken Little apocylypse was reserved for ND, and that it was critically dire to find and hire a coach who met Tier 1 criteria and credentials. History has proved the right coach can revive dormant programs that have potential.

So, yeah, each and every year was another year removed from glory years, but it wasn't an impossible situation. And of those 2 examples outlined above, only one of those coaches was a homerun hire. A caliber of hire that hasn't happened in college football in any kind of recent history and may not happen again.


The last of which, of course, Alabama completely lucked into

by KelleyCook @, quite pleased with Nov 8th, Thursday, October 18, 2012, 06:20 @ Domer99

First their #1 choice Rich Rod said no (mainly so the douche could extract more money out of his Alma Mater)

... and then when Alabama was most desperate and was down to interviewing their Tier 4 coaches, the Dolphins made it clear to Saint Nick that he wasn't going to be coming back next year.

And a complete clusterf*ck of a hiring process gets rewritten into becoming a brilliant hire.


the whole thing sort of reminds me of today's XKCD

by HumanRobot @, Cybertron, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 14:05 @ BPH



how much do you think Swarbrick coached Coach?

by HumanRobot @, Cybertron, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 13:03 @ Kevin

[ No text ]


Not as much as Orsini coached Swarbrick

by hobbs, San Diego, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 13:15 @ HumanRobot

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Or as much as Ara coached Orsini.

by Pat (Moco), Slave Den, Brian Cook's Basement, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 13:20 @ hobbs

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I actually coached Ara up on this.

by ⌂ @, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 13:41 @ Pat (Moco)

Told him exactly what I thought he needed to tell Lou what he thought so he'd tell Swarbrick what he thought so he'd tell Kelly what he thought.

Would have been a lot easier, but Lou just refuses to join Facebook.

Sometimes I rhyme slow sometimes I rhyme quick.



by Jeremy (WeIsND), Offices of Babip Pecota Vorp & Eckstein, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 13:59 @

He's in a relationship with Mark May's Mom. Facebook told me so.


And some interesting 'on point' quotes from Kelly

by Bill, Southern California, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 12:22 @ Kevin

From yesterday's press conference:

Q: You had some things happen in that game between the fumble in the end zone, you have your first couple of deficits of the season, and in the past those kind of things happen, things might go a different way. Where do you think the overall mental toughness that your team has displayed this year has come from?

BK: Did you see me on the sidelines at all last year? This is a process. This just didn't happen overnight. I mean, this is demanding, that mental and physical toughness. The pride and tradition of Notre Dame football will not be left to the weak, the timid or the non committed. I mean, that's in our locker room. That was put up the first day I got here.

So this is a process of developing that physical and mental toughness, and along the way, having some scars where maybe it wasn't as evident. So this has just been a process of getting to this point and now they see that.

Now it's not just words in the locker room. It's not just a creed with a bunch of words. They are actually filled in now because it's starting "¦ you can see it's starting to play in how they go to compete each week.

And somewhat later, in follow-up:

Q: You referenced something early in the press conference about, did you see me on the sidelines last year. Have you taken a different approach just because this team is more mature; that they get who you are? Is it a little bit different on the sidelines?

BK: I think in terms of, you know, being here three years now, they know what I want from them on game day. They know the physical toughness I want them to play with, the concentration; you know, this has been a process, and it has to start with the head coach.

Unfortunately, sometimes it doesn't play out as good TV. But the fact of the matter is, we needed to set expectations of the way we wanted our program to move. We are moving in that direction and it doesn't require me to have to have those kinds of conversations.


I think korzo78 pretty much hit the mark for me

by Bill, Southern California, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 12:18 @ Kevin

Most of the focus of NDN, for the last couple of years, has been on the 'white noise' around the program. Put another way, they viewed the whitecaps on the ocean and felt that they could discern everything about what lies beneath based on what they saw in a few snippets of press conference or sideline interaction. It was flimsy analysis and even worse dialoging around it. And then to cap everything off, a large contingent of them were extreme assholes to anybody who had a different perspective.

I'm fine with letting bygones be bygones with those that were simply wrong about Kelly. Not so much with those that were part of the extreme asshole contingent.


My problem hasn't been that some people were wrong,

by Joe (LBbeachrat) @, Los Angeles, CA, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 12:58 @ Bill
edited by Joe (LBbeachrat), Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 13:24

or, more aptly put, that I disagreed with them, it's that some people seemed to be actively trying to undermine Kelly's success at ND by poisoning the well.


To paraphrase Barry Goldwater

by hobbs, San Diego, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 13:59 @ Joe (LBbeachrat)
edited by hobbs, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 14:26

"I would remind you that extremism in the defense of (football excellence) is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of (football excellence) is no virtue!"


Barry ended up winning 6 states (South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arizona).


That quote was the topic in my freshman...

by scriptcomesfirst @, Thursday, October 18, 2012, 06:36 @ hobbs

Lincoln/Douglas debates. I loved that topic.

<geek alert!>


Shameless plug...

by Eric M, Western New York, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 12:10 @ Kevin

But I just cooked this up today and thought it's pretty on topic with these discussions:


Nothing is shameless here.

by Pat (Moco), Slave Den, Brian Cook's Basement, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 13:17 @ Eric M

Unless you're fisherj08.


Thanks for the link -- good stuff

by bpeters07 @, Sack Lake City, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 13:05 @ Eric M

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No shame in that game. Well done.

by Domer99, John Wesley Powell's Expedition Island, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 12:45 @ Eric M

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Kev, I love ya man

by Domer99, John Wesley Powell's Expedition Island, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 11:37 @ Kevin
edited by Domer99, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 11:50

You know I do. But the whole notion that Kelly made mistakes is a non-starter. All coaches do. I often wonder whether Holtz could have survived his first 2 seasons in the internet age after a brutal first season and choking down the stretch his 2nd season.

That's not to say that Kelly was above reproach. Surely he wasn't and isn't. I don't think people ever took issue with those posters who were critical of mismanaged games. But everyone has to realize that part of that comes with the territory.

There's a certain amount of criticism that's rational and a certain amount that borders on the edge of absolute craziness. And the latter was apparent from day one, because the fundamental criticisms related to running a program were shot down very early (i.e. small timey, can't recruit).

It was then that his public persona turned to center stage. But to me, this whole idea of personality being a primary criteria to evaluate him is pretty tertiary to the actual job. I'd love for every coach to be as personable as Lou Holtz but not if that coach is going to win like Gerry Faust.

Just look at 2 of everybody's most favorite head coaches: Harbaugh and Saban. You want to see mistakes? With the exception of 1 game, you can damn well pick out any Stanford game circa 2007 and 2008 and find disappointment. Or how about Alabama in 2007 (losing to Louisiana-Monroe at home)? This stuff comes with the territory.

Losing to Tulsa, Navy, and USF were nearly the death nell for Kelly. But if that's all you saw out of the guy then I'd argue you weren't looking that hard. And most weren't because Brian Kelly was never the guy that was wanted in the first place (or at least among some circles). And I think that's what perpetuated a certain amount of unfair and irrational criticism.

To automatically think the guy was incapable of change (or at least improving the program) completely ran against precedent and a well-established track record. Nobody should have to be labeled a pickle-chugger for thinking it was possible. There were plenty of people who didn't have their heads in the sand about the possibilities.

So again, I find it wholly acceptable to criticize when it's warranted, but I think at some point the whole thing became a self-fulfilling prophecy.


Very well stated.

by hobbs, San Diego, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 13:33 @ Domer99

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That was my main issue

by CW (Rakes) @, Harlan County, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 12:24 @ Domer99

That every mistake Kelly made was worse than when any other coach in football/sports made it. The idea that he was going to be a perfect coach on the field is a standard no one could live up to, and it was unfair. I think there's an issue among fans - not ND fans, all fans - where they only watch their team play and become way, way too focused on their flaws instead of noting that most teams are not perfect, and half of the teams in the nation lose every week. We are still going to lose game, and it will still suck, but I like that it might not happen as much.

Great posts by both of you. Friendship. Irish. Happiness. BCS Bowls. Thank you for not claiming that Brian Kelly has changed drastically, and therefore all prior criticisms are valid because they applied to a past Brian Kelly who no longer exists.


Brian Kelly hasn't changed

by Dylan, Santa Barbara, CA, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 16:09 @ CW (Rakes)
edited by Jay, Sunday, February 24, 2013, 16:32

Extending the "building" analogy, the construction of a house has discrete phases, and each phase has its own set of tools. As the house comes together, the tools evolve from brutish to precise. Hammers and saws do the rough work at the beginning. It's loud and chaotic and there's shit laying all over the place, but no one cares how it looks because it's not a house yet. None of us knows what it takes to build a football program. Very few of us can tell the difference between a nail and a screw. But that doesn't stop people from calling for the contractor's head because he used an International to dig the foundation and goddammit we use John Deere around here.

Kelly, like any contractor, is changing tools to suit the needs of the job. When he got to ND, the softness of the team, the entitlement mentality, the "professional" approach employed by Weis, all these things were well known. Kelly had to wring that mentality out of the team and he did it by taking charge and establishing himself as the alpha. People predisposed to hating him saw this as arrogance or whatever, but he was implementing a plan and he was rewiring the way those kids thought. He was prickly, combative, defensive. So what? He was whipping the culture into shape. You don't use a putty knife in the demo phase.

I see this year as the year the house was framed. The demand for hammers has given way to screwdrivers. The floor is down, there's drywall going up. With any luck, we'll see some of the finishing tools this year, but I'm not counting on it. I expect the final coat of paint will be applied next August.

The guy has risen to the top of his field over the course of a 20+ year career. We can assume he knows of what he speaks. It's silly to think that, because this year's team has flipped the turnover script, that BK has undergone some metamorphosis.

big picture


great post

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 19:18 @ Dylan
edited by Jay, Sunday, February 24, 2013, 16:30

Also, I love the venerable tradition of coach-as-building-contractor analogies:


So to use a different analogy

by Jack @, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 16:51 @ Dylan

As long as the roots are not severed, all is well. And all will be well in the garden. In the garden, growth has it seasons. First comes spring and summer, but then we have fall and winter. And then we get spring and summer again.

Oh, wait, wrong coach.



That was excellent.

by Jeremy (WeIsND), Offices of Babip Pecota Vorp & Eckstein, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 16:41 @ Dylan

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Really, that was one of the points I was trying to make.

by Kevin @, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 11:53 @ Domer99

The three points, distilled, were supposed to be:

1. I think where we went wrong was making conclusions (he can't win here) instead of criticisms (he isn't doing x,y,z right and isn't winning enough games soon enough).

2. The personality issue doesn't really matter. Being likable won't matter if they're no good, and I don't care about it when we're winning.

3. Nothing I've said in the past is going to dampen an Ernie McCracken-level euphoria if ND beats Oklahoma/USC.


Agree with all that

by Domer99, John Wesley Powell's Expedition Island, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 12:02 @ Kevin

One thing I've cited as being a blessing (more likely a curse) is that Kelly never won the fanbase over from day 1. There wasn't some miraculous smoke and mirrors-type 2002 season, or 2 straight BCS seasons, it was hard earned 2.5-year struggle before getting some folks to come around.

Truthfully, I'd rather it happen that way. Speaking only for myself, I was (and still am) going to wait for 3 seasons before coming to any strong definitive conclusions about his fit for the job. We've just seen too much happen to come to any conclusions sooner.

But kudos to Kelly for staying the course and not catering to those who wished he could be more affable. The man obviously has a plan, I hope it comes to full fruition.


That's kind of similar to my wife's stance.

by Kevin @, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 12:07 @ Domer99

To the extent she has one. She would prefer that ND shutter the program so she doesn't have to deal with this shit every year.

She's always said that Ty and Weis got our hopes up early, only to let us down. So she thought it was good that Kelly struggled. It always struck me as one of those NCAA tournament "I'm picking X because I like their uniforms" theories women have, but maybe she's struck George Mason this time.


I think there's some sense in it

by HumanRobot @, Cybertron, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 12:22 @ Kevin

For example, Weis's early success probably contributed to his hubris and ultimate downfall at ND. That being a wonk could win games. That said, I'd guess his lack of experience running a college program was a more global problem: whether Weis experienced early success or failure he'd likely have failed in the long run.


We were going to be a little gun-shy anyway, right?

by Jeremy (WeIsND), Offices of Babip Pecota Vorp & Eckstein, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 12:16 @ Kevin

As a fanbase (drink!), we'd been fooled too many times to immediately anoint Kelly as the Chosen One, even if he hadn't gotten off to the slow start that he did in 2010, and oversaw some of the flukiest, turnover-filled games in the history of college football in 2011.

It was always going to be a self-fulfilling prophecy for some folks, since there were quite a few people who thought he was a poor choice from the get-go. Hell, I have to admit that I was a bit underwhelmed when the news of the hire finally came out, even though I'd been advocating on his behalf since Weis below the '08 Syracuse game. He was the very definition of low-hanging fruit when he was hired. But maybe it was just because he was just such a perfect fit.


The entire Tier 1 thing was stupid from the get go.

by KelleyCook @, quite pleased with Nov 8th, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 13:12 @ Jeremy (WeIsND)

No top tier football school coach who is currently successful moves directly to another top school ... ever.

So, the idea that Bob Stoops would leave Oklahoma was pure fantasy from day one.

And yet because he wasn't Bob Stoops way too many otherwise smart people considered Brian Kelly to be a failed hire from that same day one.

Worse, they spent the next two years nit-picking, soundbiting small phrases without proper context, and downplaying any positive statistical evidence to "prove" their point that he was a bad hire.


Oh, the low hanging fruit thing

by Domer99, John Wesley Powell's Expedition Island, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 12:56 @ Jeremy (WeIsND)

I never understood that.

That was the classic example of cherry-picking the reasons why Brian Kelly was the wrong choice. At some point, the issue morphed into "process," which was really code-speak for Jenkins, Swarbrick, and Kelly suck and are destined to bring down ND football.

But the reality has shown that there isn't a better athletic director in the country, and that sometimes low-hanging fruit can be a good thing.*

* Thank you Gene Corrigan ( ):

"Again, I was lucky. The guy (Holtz) was there. We were friends. Our (son) Tim and Skip (Holtz's son) went to school together. And I knew Lou wanted the job.

"There were some things that could have gotten in between us. I think he actually got offered (another) job right about the same time he was coming to Notre Dame. I was so fortunate. And Lou knew he wasn't going to make a lot of money. In fact, he took a big bite to come here.

That right there is the absolute definition of low-hanging fruit. Hell, that might not even be fruit but rather a vegetable.


Yep, the low hanging fruit isn't always negative

by Jeremy (WeIsND), Offices of Babip Pecota Vorp & Eckstein, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 13:08 @ Domer99

In this case, it simply meant that the best available coach on the market happened to be the hottest coach in the country at the time that ND was looking for a new man. Hell, if Florida hadn't been looking for a coach post-2004, Urban probably would have gotten the "low hanging fruit" label as well.


a lot of that is the times we live in

by HumanRobot @, Cybertron, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 11:47 @ Domer99

In today's TV environment, would Star Trek: The Next Generation have lasted to its Growing the Beard phase?


Can I cosign this?

by Joe ⌂ @, North Endzone Goal Line, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 11:40 @ Domer99

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Me too.

by KGB, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 12:07 @ Joe

I wrote something out in response but refreshed and found that 99 had already said it better than I did.

I would only add that Brian Kelly is going to turn 51 next week, and although I'm sure that he's learned a great deal over the past two years, anyone who thinks that he is only now finding some consistent success because he's completely scrapped and reinvented who he is as a football coach and a human being is kidding themselves. Of course he's more comfortable in the job and in the intense spotlight today than he was in 2010, but that's going to be true of anyone in any job. At the heart of it, Kelly is essentially the same man Swarbrick hired three years ago to turn this team around. It's not as if there's some bullshit "Lunch with Lou" panacea here.


Hey now

by JN @, Seattle, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 11:12 @ Kevin

You puked despite my presence, not bc of it. Unless it was a delayed reaction to watching my golf swing.

I challenged Kelly to a game of darts that night. Thankfully, for his pride, he declined. I was throwing good darts.


I occasionally see a few of the people we played against.

by Kevin @, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 11:15 @ JN

There's a 10% chance they don't remember me, and a 90% chance they're pretending not to remember me.


I had to move to Seattle to escape the shame

by JN @, Seattle, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 11:18 @ Kevin

Or something

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