At the Rockne Dinner, AD Jack Swarbrick revealed some of the details of his search that resulted in the hiring of Coach Kelly.
It’s a good read over there at ISD, but the key takeaway for me? Mantra. We didn’t know anything, which makes looking back on the madness pretty freaking funny. Funny in that sad kind of way.
On the hiring of Brian Kelly: â€œIt was the best ten days Iâ€™ve had in the job. It restored my faith in football in this country.â€ He said he went completely â€œoff the grid,â€ traveling under an alias and making his own plane reservations. He said his own senior staff had no idea where he was, nor did his wife know (said Swarbrick with a smile, â€œThe difference was, she didnâ€™t careâ€). Swarbrick said he told the candidates, â€œIf your name leaks, itâ€™s because you leaked it.â€ He said of all the media reporting that took place in that 10-day period, some of it was close to accurate, but, at the end of the day, â€œnot a word was factual.â€
So…people tracking the ND plane had no idea. People that came out and said they were candidates were probably just trying to get some press, maybe a negotiating position. But in the end, Mantra. Nobody knew jack. Except Jack.
Swarbrick said in making the coaching hire, he looked at three elements â€“ first, the tradition and history at Notre Dame and who had succeeded in that environment; second, the characteristics of great coaches; and the third involved sitting down with current football players and asking them what they looked for in a coach. Swarbrick said he ended up with a list of 15 items that a prospective head coach had to have. He ended up with 18 candidates and actually talked to nine of those 18. Said Swarbrick, â€œEverything led back to the same place.â€
I really like the criteria and the plan of attack here. Looking back at ND, seeing what types of coaches/people have been successful there, is a huge step. It’s clearly something that was missing for DavWeisingham, and at least Jack learned from his predecessor’s mistakes there. He also examined success in CFB coaching in general, and made sure he got input from a key set of constituents, the players.
Jack hasn’t been perfect, far from it, but I really liked his planned approach. And I absolutely loved his ‘off the grid’ approach to the hire. The crazies still circled the wagons and rumors still flew, but in the end only one guy knew who the one guy was gonna be. I like that.