For the last couple weeks, the fanatics have once again been calling for Coach Kelly to be let go. The decision to let a head coach go is just not that simple. The head coach position requires the ability to understand the workings of an offense and defense, it also requires the ability to lead and educate a team of young men to work as a team and to go out and “Play Like A Champion” on any Saturday afternoon. The head coach must have a passion for the game and a passion to win. The head coach must also be a leader and be a teacher of the game.
When you look back at Notre Dame football history, the teachers of the game won National Championships. Those teachers of the game were Knute Rockne, Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian, and Lou Holtz. Rockne, Leahy and Parseghian are considered the “Holy Trinity” of Head Coaches at Notre Dame. These four particular coaches had an ability to motivate their players and reach football supremacy.
Knute Rockne is the most beloved coach in the history of Notre Dame Football. Rockne knew how to motivate his players and he also taught his players a different way of playing the game. The “Rockne Box” was one way that led Rockne to win three National Championships for the University of Notre Dame.
Frank Leahy was a student of the game under Rockne. Leahy had been a member of two of the National Championships under Rockne. Leahy, like his Head Coach, had been using the “Rockne Box” and went to the “T” formation. Coach Leahy went onto win four National Championships for the Fighting Irish.
Ara Parseghian understood what it took to win at Notre Dame. He passed this bit of helpful advice on to Digger Phelps, “Every game you play is the other teams Super Bowl. Your kids need to be ready, and above being ready, because the other team is coming after you.”
Parseghian’s love of the game also allowed him to motivate his players and gain their respect. He also felt a closeness to Rockne and Leahy: “I remember when I drove into Notre Dame, getting ready for the first day of of work. I had an electrical charge go up my back because I realized all of a sudden that I was responsible for the traditions that the Knute Rocknes and Frank Leahys had set, and what Notre Dame stood for.”
Lou Holtz was a great teacher. He taught his players to respect the game, respect the staff, trust the process, and most importantly respect each other and their opponents. Coach Holtz brought discipline to the teams he coached–being on time for meetings (meant being early), working hard in the classroom, and getting players to do more without realizing it. But it was the tough love that gained him the respect of the players.
The one thing that ties all of these coaches together is their ability to motivate their players to just not win, but to become students of the game, believe in the Notre Dame Value Stream, and the want to excel on the field on a Saturday afternoon. So in the end, if the Irish are to go back to their winning ways of National Championships past, Coach Kelly must look into each of these coaches past and look at how they coached, mentored their players, and taught them to get ready for GameDay.
Cheers and Go Irish!!