Head Coach Brian Kelly returns to Notre Dame! Are we happy? Maybe, maybe not. Grantland X and I seem to have differing views on the topic. Here is my two cents worth on the return of Brian Kelly, and Grantland X will present his rebuttal on Monday. Here we go …
It’s o-dark-thirty in the college football recruiting world and Notre Dame is hovering with a top five recruiting class.
In the days leading up to the national title game head coach Brian Kelly gushes that coaching at Notre Dame is his dream job.
Kelly told reporters in Florida before the game that Notre Dame was his dream job, but said while he was coaching at Cincinnati he was focused on that. He then added: “I think that’s the same thing with the NFL.”
“I think from my perspective I’ve got the best job in the country, NFL, college, high school, whatever. I just look at the place that I’m at and thankful for the opportunity that I have,” he said.
“It’s flattering if there is interest, which I don’t know that there is. But again, that is such a secondary topic for me right now. It’s all about this game.”
On Monday evening the Fighting Irish football team, coming off an undefeated regular season, play Alabama in the national title game (and lose).
Tuesday morning (reported late on Wednesday) head Coach Brian Kelly goes out and interviews for another head coaching job (NFL) in Philadelphia and disappears vacationing. Really?
If timing is everything, his timing lacks a great deal in my opinion.
I realize that coaching is a job just like any other job. And if a great opportunity comes across your path that you’d be foolish to not at least entertain it. But at the same time, there is one thing about coaching that is different from most other “jobs.” Coaching requires one to deal with young men, helping to mold them and grow them, and such dealings require a certain level of trust. What Kelly did this week, just mere moments following their appearance on the national stage, leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
I guess I should not be surprised though. This is not the first time that Coach Kelly has disappointed me. From the word go I was not impressed with the way he left Cincinnati. He left those young men at Cincinnati in such a hurry that he did not even stay long enough to coach them in their bowl game. I know that the adoring Notre Dame nation was impressed with his instant loyalty and commitment to recruiting, but that’s not what I saw. I saw a coach who did not give his former team the courtesy of at least finishing what he had started.
The other significant Coach Kelly disappointing moment that sticks out in my mind is the differentiation that he made in 2011 between HIS players and CHARLIE’S players. Why on earth would you do something like that? It is very poor coaching form to divide your own house like that. I admire the players for being able to look past his poor choice of words. Even if they weren’t playing for him, they were at least able to rally together and play for each other. Coach Kelly apologized to his squad, but after an incident like that, the damage is already done.
How much further damage has this interviewing episode done to the team?
And let’s face it; there must have been a part of Brian Kelly that, if the offer was absolutely perfect, would have taken the job, right? Otherwise, why else even entertain it. I can think of much better ways to go about contract negotiations than this. There had to have been some part of him that was ready to throw caution to the wind, walk out the door, and never look back.
Regardless of whether or not I like Kelly’s actions this week, I cannot discount all that he has done in the last three years. I am so tremendously proud of how far he was able to take our young men this year. That cannot be overlooked. But, in the back of my mind, I will always have these Kelly disappointments. Yes, I can welcome him back with open arms, as the hero who has returned to save us … but there will always be that nagging doubt in the back of the mind. And nothing can undo that.
Well, all we can do now is look forward to signing day, and next season. GO IRISH!