I’m sorry, Brian Kelly — I really am.
Do some of you feel better now? I apologized to Brian Kelly. This nonsense was dropped on my lap / twitter feed last week after the Notre Dame Fighting Irish destroyed the USC Trojans, and I’m almost positive that I will see it again now that Notre Dame beat up on the N.C. State Wolfpack, 35-14.
As if Brian Kelly really needs an apology from me to feel good while he has a 7-1 team and a legitimate Heisman candidate heading into November. He doesn’t, and probably isn’t looking for one either.
It was this game against the Wolfpack last year that finally pushed me over the edge. The absolute stubbornness of Brian Kelly to continue to pass the football in the middle of hurricane conditions was as inexcusable as it was unholy. That game had me in a fit of rage for the better part of two weeks and I wanted Brian Kelly gone.
Were there other reasons besides that game? Sure.
- Notre Dame went 4-8 against a soft schedule.
- He hired and retained the worst defensive coordinator in Notre Dame history.
- He appeared that he had most likely “peaked” in 2012.
- A small number of wins against Top 25 teams.
- He was just so damn predictable.
How were things going to get any better if he was going to keep doing the same things? How can we even trust him to change, and would those changes go against the grain from what he has done in the past?
What Brian Kelly was doing at Notre Dame wasn’t working anymore, and some could argue that they never really worked all that well to begin with. All that other crap about his “abrasive personality” and the “blame game” was exactly that - crap. We shouldn’t expect football coaches to be rainbows and sunshine all the time, and when you’re losing, “reasons” mysteriously turn into “blame” by a media that really doesn’t like you.
I wanted Brian Kelly gone, and I wanted a fresh start. I’m someone that that has always wanted more stability for the Notre Dame football program, but the 2016 season was anything but stable.
Jack Swarbrick and Notre Dame decided to retain Brian Kelly, and despite doing the opposite of what I wanted, I fell in line with the “let’s see if he can do this” crowd. If this was going to work, Brian Kelly would have to make a lot of changes, and he would have to start with how he did just about everything.
That’s a hard task for a coach that has so many seasons under his belt, and for a coach that has had a lot of success doing what he has always done. Kelly was going to have to make all the right chess moves during the offseason if he was going to pull off an incredible turnaround.
He had to make a bunch of moves that he normally wouldn’t do.
Here’s the list of the 4 biggest moves he made.
- Replaces his best friend, Paul Longo, with Matt Balis as the strength and conditioning coordinator.
- Ushers the departure of Mike Denbrock as the offensive coordinator, and hires a young upstart in Chip Long.
- After going 3/4th of the season without a defensive coordinator, hires another up and coming coach in Wake Forest’s Mike Elko.
- After having an awful season on special teams, hires Brian Polian as the special teams coordinator.
For Brian Kelly to have the type of turnaround needed to make fans and alumni happy, he needed to HIT on every shot.
AND HE DID!
I’ll save you the lines of text outlining what each of these hires have meant to Notre Dame. You’ve watched the games, and you’ve seen the difference and it’s incredible. But NO ONE outside of the most ridiculous fanboys in existence would have ever thought the Irish would be this DOMINANT.
Here are some post-game notes from Notre Dame’s win over NC State:
So, Brian Kelly made a bunch of coaching changes, and it’s impressive that he NAILED it. Equally as impressive is that he has let someone like Chip Long take over the offense — something that we didn’t really think was possible.
Brian Kelly changed who he was. Try changing who you are and how you do it after 30 years and see how easy it is. Yeah... it’s not.
I’m sorry Brian Kelly. I didn’t think you had it in you.
There is still plenty of season left, and then the ultimate grading scale for an Irish coach... the postseason. So, I won’t crown Brian Kelly just yet, but I appreciate what he has done to change everything.
Sorry BK, but no one thought you were capable of this much change.