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Notre Dame Football: Why Brian Kelly Won’t Be Back in 2017

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Over the last month, and even more so over the last couple of days, a lot has been discussed about Brian Kelly’s job security. Over the next two days we’ll give you both sides of the argument. Why Kelly won’t return in 2017 and why Kelly will return. Today we’ll take a look at team #FireKelly.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame vs Navy Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

After another frustrating loss, this time at the hands of Navy, Notre Dame is now 3-6 and realistically staring 3-9 or 4-8 dead in the eye. With such a disastrous season unfolding before our eyes fans and commentators are calling for Brian Kelly’s job.

This season is past the point where you can write it off as unlucky. This team is just flat out bad. The Irish are losing close games, but they are games where it shouldn’t be close. It’s also not like the ball just isn’t bouncing their way, a lot of Notre Dame’s problems have been self-induced.

This is one of the weakest schedules Notre Dame has had in some time. Notre Dame’s Power Five opponents are just a combine just 12-27 in league games. The Irish also supposedly possess a talented roster. With a combination like that there is no way that Notre Dame should be 3-6.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame vs Navy Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

It reaches a point where the blame has to fall on someone and fair or not that someone has to be Kelly. A few week’s back Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick did come out and gave Kelly a vote a confidence. He went as far to tell us that Kelly would be leading the Irish out of the tunnel in 2017.

It would be a little naive to believe Swarbrick 100%. The Irish are in the middle of a stretch where they have lost eight out of the last 11 games. Anything has to be on the table right now, and that includes firing Kelly.

2016’s pitfalls have fallen squarely on Kelly. This is not a well coached team. Our site manager, Josh Vowles, has pointed my next point numerous times. This isn’t like 2007. That year Notre Dame just simply didn’t have the horses to win. That’s not the case this season. The Irish have the talent, they just aren’t coached well.

One major thing that has been well documented is Kelly’s decision making. To be frank, it has been terrible this season. Let’s take a look, shall we?

  • Bringing back Brian VanGorder for 2016
  • Flip flopping between DeShone Kizer and Malik Zaire in the Texas game
  • Trusting his shoddy defense against Michigan State
  • Throwing the ball 26 times in a hurricane
  • Pulling Kizer in favor of Zaire in the Stanford game
  • Again trusting his defense against Navy, who had been controlling the ball and clock all game.

On top of poor decisions and in game management, an even bigger question is how much room for growth is there if Kelly is retained for next season? This is something I touched on earlier in the season. How good will it get with Brian Kelly? You’re looking at an eight win program.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame vs Navy Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Now some of you will argue that that’s good enough, but at the end of the day this is Notre Dame and good enough shouldn’t be. Some of you might be worried that the next coach wouldn’t be as good if they let Kelly go. I understand those concerns, but I’m sick of eight wins a year and so should you.

Yes, 2012 and 2015 were nice, but those are the outliers of Kelly’s tenure. As long as Kelly is around those 10+ win seasons that Notre Dame wants to see will be the exception, rather than the rule. The Irish need to take a chance and see if they can hit it big with someone else.

Sloppy. Inconsistent. Frustrating. Those are a few solid descriptions of Notre Dame football during Kelly’s tenure. Suspect defense and inconsistent ground games have been hallmarks of the Kelly era. Since Kelly has been here there is really nothing Notre Dame can hang their hat on.

The 2016 season is the final straw for Kelly, and if anything gives Notre Dame the opportunity to go in a different direction.

Tomorrow we’ll give you the opposite side of this argument as we’ll take a look on why Brian Kelly will be back in 2017.