Yes, I tore him apart for previous comments that I felt were out of line (and still do); however, I can’t focus purely on the bad and not praise the good should it arise. That happened over the weekend in the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel.
When asked if he thought Kelly was the right man for the job, the News-Sentinel set Newman up on a tee to go off on a coach that he felt didn’t give him proper playing time. Instead, Newman took a difference approach:
“You have to go through (coaching at Notre Dame) and make your mistakes and then learn from them,” Newman said. “The reason that I say that coach Kelly is the right guy is that he is learning from those mistakes.”
“When coach Kelly first came in, I didn’t see how he wouldn’t be here until he is older,” Newman said. “As the years went by and things happened; like the whole debacle with the older guys and “his guys;” it all left a bad taste in our mouths. That was an interesting problem. He is learning in a sense of relationships with players, relationships with coaches, and how to coach the games.”
While he does give Kelly some praise, he does point out a legitimate problem that happened last season: the Weis guys/Kelly guys fiasco. He confirms that it didn’t set well with him or some of the older players, which is perfectly fine and the type of insider perspective that I hope to get from players.
The difference in this case is that Newman doesn’t attempt to place any additional spin to pass some other unrelated opinion off as fact (namely, Kelly had no faith in his players) or dredge up any private locker room conversations. It’s his opinion, no other players are named, and it isn’t an unfair criticism of Kelly in the least.
Newman continues by shedding some insight on the Navy debacle in 2010:
“Navy came with something that we hadn’t practiced at all,” Newman said. “We had to make checks to a completely new offense.”
Again, this is great. Irish fans wondered what in the hell happened in that game and now we know. Navy caught ND off-guard and the adjustments weren’t made quickly enough. Based on the result in 2011, it appears that Diaco was able to adjust properly and was well prepared for what Navy threw at them.
Sidenote: I am now freakin’ terrified that Navy is going to pull something crazy out in the first game of the 2012 season.
Finally, as a player that had to suffer through a coaching change, Newman had some good insight on coaching turnover at ND:
“With this (2012) schedule coming up, I can’t say that there won’t be coaching changes in the future, be it the head coach or assistants,” Newman said. “That is one of the main problems with Notre Dame. You see other programs that have continuity. There is a certain consistency, where a guy that played eight years ago and the guy that plays now, it’s the same coaching staff and they do the same things on the same days. That helps a program, it really does. You are going to have conversations about how many games Notre Dame will win or lose because of (always having) a new coaching staff. It really is a problem.”
I have a hard time disagreeing with Newman there; in fact, a few years ago, Newman’s exact logic was a reason that I wanted Weis to have another chance in 2009. Of course, that was until the season happened and there was no logic to defend him… Either way, it is rather refreshing to hear an inside opinion on a very real issue that Notre Dame has faced in the post-Lou era.
As I maintained in the comments of my last post on Newman, I got the impression that he wasn’t intentionally throwing former teammates or Kelly and staff under the bus, but his comments out of frustration allowed him to do so without even realizing it. It’s the main reason why that post has the title of “Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid” instead of something more harsh like “Please Shut the Hell Up and Never Speak Again.”
Speaking to the media is always a dangerous line to walk–everything can become a soundbite. While this lesson was undoubtedly taught to Newman during his time at ND, mastery of it is a whole other ball game. Based on the timing of these articles, I’m assuming Newman had a long sit down interview that is being drug out into several pieces, which could further tilt the odds of unfortunate comments seeing the light of day in highly unfavorable fashion.
I’m definitely encouraged by Newman’s quotes in this most recent piece and hope these comments are more indicative of what we see from him down the road.
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