I feel like the vast majority of Notre Dame fans wanted Brian Kelly fired after this past football season. The team went 4-8 and was pretty much a disaster from the beginning game against Texas. This is definitely not up to Notre Dame football standards and certain areas of the program need to change. I used to be one of the “FIRE THE COACH” type of guys. I have learned to sit back and take a deeper look into the pros and cons. In my opinion, the pros greatly outweigh the cons when it comes to keeping Kelly for the 2017 season.
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Brian Kelly has coached at Notre Dame for 7 seasons. In these 7 years, Notre Dame has had two teams worthy of playing for a National Championship. The 2012 and 2015 teams, when healthy, were good enough to be crowned National Champions. Heck, if in 2012 Kansas State didn’t get upset by Baylor, Notre Dame plays Kansas State for the title and should have won that game. In 2015 Notre Dame lost to Clemson in a monsoon and to Stanford on a game ending field goal. They were good enough to win both these games and deserve a spot in the College Football Playoff. When is the last time Notre Dame had a four year run with two teams at a National Championship caliber? You would have to go back all the way to Lou Holtz’s 1992-1995 teams. This had three teams capable of winning a championship. As a fan, do I want the most successful coach Notre Dame has had in 20+ years be fired after one bad season? Absolutely not.
Another reason I have seen people calling for Brian Kelly’s head is that he refuses to change the way he coaches and the coaches he hires on staff. I think this offseason should put to rest all these claims. Kelly replaced Brian VanGorder (I will be the first to admit, worst coaching hire in Kelly’s tenure) with a new voice in Mike Elko. VanGorder was kept on entirely too long but I think Elko and his 4-2-5 defense will prove to be a huge improvement next season. In addition to Elko, Notre Dame has hired new special teams coordinator in Brian Polian and a new offensive coordinator in Chip Long. Chip Long comes from Memphis and is known as a great recruiter. The part I really liked is that Brian Kelly is letting Long call plays next season. He isn’t micromanaging his offensive coordinator. This is Long’s first year in power five football calling plays. I like the trust that Kelly is putting in him going forward.
After this past season I saw names such as PJ Fleck, Larry Fedora, Matt Rhule, and Dan Mullen as candidates to replace a potentially fired Brian Kelly. Really? One of those guys is going to take us to places that Brian Kelly hasn’t? I find this to be the funniest part of the “FIRE THE COACH” type of guy. They don’t think beyond just firing him. Right now there is no replacement that will come to Notre Dame who is proven to be a better coach than Brian Kelly. I am sorry but I just do not see it. Taking out Saban, Meyer, Harbaugh, and now Dabo Swinney, I see Brian Kelly in that next tier of coaches. And you better believe one of those four coaches are in no way jumping ship to come coach at Notre Dame. Until I see a coach who is proven and willing to come to Notre Dame, I am satisfied with Brian Kelly as the coach.
This can all change if Brian Kelly puts up another clunker year going anything worse than 8-4. If Notre Dame goes 7-5 or worse in 2017 then I will hop on the bandwagon of they need to look for a replacement. But I am not expecting that at all. I see loads of talent returning at offensive line, receiver, running back, cornerback, and linebacker. I also think Brandon Wimbush will be a star. As a Notre Dame fan I want to see Brian Kelly succeed. I think if more fans started thinking big picture, more people would jump back on Brian Kelly’s bandwagon and get ready for a bounce back 2017 football season.