Friday Roundup: The “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” Edition

Your dreams of seeing your team win a national title are crushed. Once you process the devastation, you try to look ahead to the future as best you can, knowing that your team is in great shape for the future. Then, the architect of that team decides to interview for another job. Your football world spirals again. The recruits you’ve been looking forward to seeing next year are trying to process the whirlwind themselves, resulting in some deciding to find greener pastures themselves.

This all happens in the span of a week. This is what it’s like being a Notre Dame football fan.

Or as the audio montage in my post earlier this week put it:

It feels like somebody took my heart and dropped it into a bucket of boiling tears. At the same time somebody else is hitting my soul in the crotch with a frozen sledgehammer. And then a third guy walks in and starts punching me in the grief bone and I’m crying and nobody can hear me because I’m terribly, terribly, terribly, alone.

While I initially posted that audio as a tongue-in-cheek joke about our sports-paint, I’ll be damned if the above quote didn’t just play out for the entirety of this week.

But to be frank, I really don’t begrudge Kelly one bit for his interview with the Eagles. Yes, I do remember what he said prior to the this week about the Notre Dame job and the NFL, but I understand what he is doing.

Look, if a leader in your industry calls you, you are going to listen (and if you don’t, you are crazy). You might believe you are set in your current situation, but you just don’t know what might be on the other side of that fence you never bothered to peak over. Worst case scenario: they don’t like you or you don’t like them and the status quo remains. Best case scenario: you have an unexpected job offer that can boost your career. Even better, you don’t have to take it. You can take it to your current employer and try to negotiate a better deal for yourself.

Now, in our world, these conversations can easily be kept quiet and never see the light of day. In the world of the NFL, a simple phone call becomes an instant headline.

Brian Kelly had no chance in hell to keep this story quiet even if he wanted to. And once the story broke, a myriad of Notre Dame fan reactions broke out ranging from “here we go again” to “get rid of that bastard for even talking to another team.”

However, this is how the “game” is played. Chip Kelly did it at Oregon this year on the heels of doing the same damn thing to them last year. Bill O’Brien talked to the NFL, but decided not to hang Penn State out to dry with all the NCAA sanctions they’ve been hit with. Both coaches saw sizable raises and both were welcomed back with open arms for “staying loyal” to their teams despite each decision and NFL flirtation being nothing more than a devise for a raise.

Should Brian Kelly do the same, the reaction will likely be split at best even though it shouldn’t be. Kelly is simply trying to secure the best deal possible for himself either at ND or the next level and according to some reports, this all isn’t just for his own benefit.

Yes, the timing is awful, considering that Irish are still licking their wounds after Monday night. However, there isn’t really a “good” time for this at all. If anything, the current recruiting dead period might just be the best of all possible times to explore such possibilities as it limits the amount of contact opposing coaches can have with recruits (one phone call during the week). It’s no guarantee that some kids might not take the news so well, but it’s surely a better option than before the title game or down the home stretch to signing day when it’s open season.

And yes, I will be pissed if Kelly leaves. I think he’s done a great job here and has laid a foundation that he could build upon for years and years should he choose to. While I would understand the logic of a potential departure, I certainly don’t want to go back into the dark abyss of a Davie-Ty-Weis era again.

However, should Kelly decide to leave, there will be a certain irony to it.

The day Kelly was hired, the fanbase was already divided on him. In his first season back-to-back losses to Tulsa and Navy sealed his fate for some in year one. His vocal desire for field turf and a jumbotron didn’t help matters for him either, nor did a second 8-5 season that featured simply gut-wrenching losses. Trust me, you won’t have to look far for such comments either, I’m sure you can easily find them in our own archives.

Yet now Kelly should be vilified because he isn’t loyal?

This is why we can’t have nice things. Let the situation play out and let the chips fall where they may. Save the judgements and proclamations of Kelly’s intent when the dust settles.

Breathe.

After all, this is the same 125 year old football program that built by a man that threatened to quit if a stadium wasn’t built and helped sell Studebakers on the side for some extra cash is it not?

The Roundup

I’m not going to kid myself, everyone is only interested in Kelly news this week. So let’s kick off the news links by happily eliminating one possible NFL team from the list.

So that just leaves the Eagles. And the Eagles have their eyes on more than just Kelly. IT’S GRUDEN! Kinda.

Should Kelly leave, he would make history. Seriously, nothing like this has ever come close to happening before.

Not even a full week after the title game and we are back to the opposite end of the ND News Cycle. We are right back to “it’s too hard to win at ND” in no time flat.

This is a good time to remind you that Kelly currently has zero offers from other teams. But that isn’t stopping people from making lists of possible replacements for him.

Finally, I think we should pull an Alabama circa 1973. After all we won the regular season and there is a poll that still has us #1. Works for me!

The Beer

There is no beer this week.

Firstly, because the theme of this week is that we can’t have nice things. Secondly, I have had zero time since I’ve been home to consider a suggestion. Thirdly, our former co-founder MQ has apparently sworn off beer, so I can blame him for this.

Finally, after a week like this, whiskey, not beer, is needed.

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  • Pat

    Looking ahead is important. But so is looking back. 12-1. That’s a hell of year. As fans, we were nitpicking the schedule for years. “What were they thinking?!” And yet we swept it. Incredible. Plus, I have few or no bad things to say about a single player on this team. Lots of great guys that grew and learned to win together.

    That said, you’re right that BK’s timing is awful. I hope he comes back, gets his new contract (let’s do a new 5-year deal with a pay bump – we don’t need to sign him through the century), and all is well again.

    Go Irish.

  • tlndma

    I’ve changed my mind on the kid that decommited. I think he was gone anyways. His leaving and being on a plane to Florida happened too quickly, for it to not have been already in the works. Try not to sound like Les Miles if you talk about this.

  • Brad

    As I am want to so here so often….

    My drink of the day will be cheap, horrible scotch. Even to make my liver burn and my eyes tear up from its revolting stench, in an effort to purify my soul of our recent loss.

    In all seriously, I am really not worried about this Kelly thing. Its Kelly’s way of making sure that he gets paid more, along with every member of his staff. ND is not even close to being competitive when it comes to assistant pay in comparison to some of the big schools down south.

    And its kinda smart in other ways. Once people start tossing your name about for an NFL job, people use that against you in recruiting. If you say no thanks, I have no interest, then people will still keep bringing you up for NFL jobs. However, if you take your time to consider doing it (negotiating a massive raise and contract in the meantime), make people believe you thought about it, and then make a decided and high-profile decision to stay at the University of Notre Dame and not to go to the NFL, then all at once you get a big contract, shut up NFL naysayers, and kill the issue once and for all.

    Also, if you notice, nobody is talking this week about how badly we lost the game. Instead, everyone is talking about how important it is to keep Kelly and to keep improving the program. That is some damn good PR manuevering, whether its intentional or not.

  • http://www.ndnation.com irishize

    Nobody is indispensable. Mike Royko said that he was reminded of that every time he passed a cemetery. So, certainly the same is true for Brian Kelly. What an ingrate!

    This job should truly be his “dream Job”–an Irish-Catholic from Boston. Boston is so Irish that they even named their NBA team the “Celtics.” Notre Dame-Catholic-Irish: Doesn’t he feel some greater, transcendental bond to his position? Does he have to cast his pearls before NFL swine?

    It was all so stupid, greedy, and unnecessary. Swarbrick said publicly that he was going to renegotiate his contract and make him “NFL proof.” Now Swarbrick has a knife stuck in his back.

    Remember in the movie “Knute Rockne All-American” when the then president of Notre Dame said that he could understand Rockne’s moving on to another coaching job that would give him a better salary in light of all the success he had? Didn’t we all get boosebumps when Pat O’Brien said: “No, I’ll never leave Notre Dame, Father; I’ll never leave Notre Dame.” LOYALTY! (OK, so Rock entertained offers from Columbia University in real life, but why ruin a good story).

    If salaries were justly dispensed, Kelly would have to return a truckload of his money for the coaching malpractice of his first two seasons: the Navy fiasco; the ignorant arrogance of foresaking the field goal against Tulsa; the unreadiness for MSU’s fake field goal; the 4th quarter 2011 Michigan meltdown.

    Now, with an unprecedented factor of good luck–the two TD drops by the Miami receiver and one TD drop by the BYU receiver; a Pitt field goal that missed by inches; the injury to Matt Barkley–all of a sudden Kelly is a genius who merits a salary bonanza. Pride goeth before a fall.

    Wake up, you jerk, be thankful for what you have. Try a little humility and loyalty. You are anything but indispensable.

    • http://ndeddiemac.tumblr.com NDEddieMac

      YOU PEOPLE

  • DenverIrish

    First, we should recognize what it means that we even have a coach the NFL is willing to look at. No one came calling for Weis at any time after those rumors floated in 05 after the USC game. No one asked to interview Willingham for anything related to football – ever. It’s another sign we finally have a good coach, and this is the kind of thing all good CFB programs deal with.

    Second, our assistants are criminally underpaid. I don’t know whether that’s BK’s motive, but they all make at least half as much as the top CFB coordinators. Proverbs says, “A laborer is worthy of his hire.” ND of all places should know they need to pay their people fair market value for the position. Some people are apparently saying our team “got lucky” this year and aren’t that good at their job. Fine, you wouldn’t give them a raise when any other team would. Unless Kelly and Swarbrick think these assistants are already being paid fair market value, then they need raises. And don’t give me the line about “doing God’s work.” These are football coaches, not priests. And they didn’t take a vow of poverty when they agreed to coach for ND. Our football program makes millions each year, much of which helps the university and funds scholarships for scores of students. We aren’t hurting for money to pay them – so pay them what they’re worth so we can keep good coaches and continue to build revenue and the good reputation of the university. Don’t turn coaching at ND into the social worker position of CFB (i.e., you’ll only take that pay cut if your heart is REALLY in it).

    Third, actions speak louder than words on both sides. Sure, Kelly interviewed, so you have to assume that means he might leave if given the chance. Conversely, pay him and his assistants what they are worth if you want to tell a coach who just got you to a national championship that you believe in him and the work he is doing. Telling an employee they are a “great asset” to your business and continuing to pay them well below market value only lasts until the headhunter shows them what a competitive compensation package looks like – then they recognize the boss is just blowing smoke in their ear instead of actually paying them.

    Fourth, putting up with our demanding alumni and fans and the politicking that goes with it for a university that is making millions in profit from the enterprise deserves a premium salary. I don’t know what Kelly makes right now, but I bet he is not even in the top 15 for college coaches

  • GB

    Even if Kelly was interested in the Eagles, I don’t think he gets the job for these reasons. The way ND looked, it looks like they did not even practice. I don’t know all the 10 candidates but Chip Kelley from Oregon interviewed and I would take him over Brian since his team is an offensive juggernaut and his teams are consistently great. One in 10 odds are not too good. Coaching in the NFL is a lot different than coaching in college. Very few make the transition including Saban from Alabama. SAban is the best coach in college football. He was mediocre at Miami. Kelly is more of a college coach. He could not tell the pros to have their lockers pin neat like he does at ND. The pros will not hire him and his recruits will bail, not sign up or not trust him.