(This was originally a guest post from Lisa Kelly on the Diary of Sidelines and Pearls. Please check out Erica Barnett’s unique take on college football at the Diary of Sidelines and Pearls.)
Who is Brian Kelly?
At this point, in his eighth year as the head football coach at the University of Notre Dame, many people are pretty sure that they know who Brian Kelly is; but I am not so sure. In year eight, Coach Kelly certainly isn’t the same person he was in year one.
He’s learned many lessons, has had both triumphs and failures, and has evolved his coaching style in order to keep bettering his craft. Coach Kelly is no more defined by his 12-0 season, than he is by his 4-8 season. And he’s matured from the coach screaming on the sideline as the game marched on, to the coach firmly yet still emphatically teaching his players what is necessary in the moment, in order to also better their craft.
He may not have completely understood what it was going to take to be successful at a school like Notre Dame, where the concept of the student-athlete is the norm and not the exception; but he’s certainly put in the effort to evolve into the man and coach that Notre Dame requires of the head coach of their football team. He also isn’t the first coach to arrive at Notre Dame not in total understanding of what was in front of him.
Haters Gonna Hate
Heading into week four, with a record of 2-1, the haters are already very prevalent, and doing their absolute best to make their voices heard. Press conferences are tense, and as seen after the loss to Georgia, a quick temper can still get the better of Coach Kelly. But that is pretty normal when you are under the intense scrutiny that the head coach of Notre Dame is under. While the media does absolutely deserve to be respected, the media and fans need to recognize the constant pressure that Coach Kelly is under, everywhere he goes. From the University, the team, the fans, the media; being the head football coach at the University of Notre Dame means there is very little downtime, which can become quite exhausting.
The Georgia game may not have brought the intended outcome, but Coach Kelly has put the wheels of change in motion and we owe him the chance to let this season play out. He has restructured his coaching staff in order to set his team up for success. He has placed a greater emphasis on the Notre Dame “student-athlete,” and has made a conscious effort to make relationship building a priority. With only three games under his belt this season, Coach Kelly deserves our patience, and the time to implement his renovated football program. Like the newly renovated stadium, there are still a few kinks that need to be worked out, but not only is Coach Kelly taking responsibility for what has happened so far this season, but his players are as well.
I am looking forward to watching the rest of the season play out. I wish the “Fire Kelly” crowd would simmer down a bit and let him do his job. He has shown us he can bring our team to greatness, and I believe he can do it again.
Cheers & GO IRISH!