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Football: “Brian Kelly is probably safer than most Notre Dame fans want to believe.”

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Kelly makes AP’s list of Top 6 Coaches on the Hot Seat

Notre Dame Introduces New Head Coach Brian Kelly Photo by Frank Polich/Getty Images

Brian Kelly’s $15 million-plus parachute is likely protecting the Notre Dame Fighting Irish coach if his team improves its record just a bit in the 2017 season.

That’s the opinion of the Associated Press’ Ralph D. Russo, who nevertheless put Kelly on his “Pick 6” of coaches on the hot seat.

Kelly knows another clunker after Notre Dame went 4-8 last season would likely force the hand of athletic director Jack Swarbick. Kelly's position is bolstered by the six-year contract extension he signed after the 2015 season. Notre Dame does not make Kelly's contract public, but a safe guess is that his buyout is upward of $15 million. Kelly is probably safer than most Notre Dame fans want to believe.

Russo’s other five picks are:

  • The N.C. State Wolfpack’s Dave Doeren, who went 7-6 last season. One of those seven wins was a 10-3 victory over the Irish. Doeren is 25-26 in his four seasons in Raleigh.
  • The Ole Miss Rebels’ Hugh Freeze, who went 5-7 last year as investigations into wrongdoing swirled around his program.
  • Texas Tech Red Raiders’ Kliff Kingsbury, who is 24-26 in Lubbock and caught in a Möbius strip when his offenses score a zillion points, but his defenses give up a zillion and one.
  • UCLA Bruins’ Jim Mora, who has a $12 million buyout and Josh Rosen, a potential first round NFL Draft pick, at quarterback.
  • The Arizona Wildcats’ Rich Rodriguez, who went 3-9 last year. Back when the Wildcats were decent, ESPN produced one of its best ever troll jobs:

If forced to offer another six coaches who may be one bad season away from being canned, Russo suggests the Boston College Eagles’ Steve Adazzio, the Rice Owls’ David Bailiff, the Arizona State Sun Devils’ Todd Graham, the Kent State Golden Flashes’ Paul Haynes, the Tennessee Volunteers’ Butch Jones and the Texas A&M Aggies’ Kevin Sumlin.

Taking injuries to key positions out of the equation, I think Kelly keeps his job if his team wins seven or more games this year. The fanbase would certainly be unhappy with a 7-5 season, but not enough for athletic director Jack Swarbrick to be willing to eat the cost of Kelly’s buyout, risk commitments and potentially cause disarray among the coordinators.

I may be naive, however, so let’s put it to a vote. This question is not: Do you think Kelly deserves to be fired if...? This question is: Do you think Kelly will be fired if the team goes 6-6 this year (barring catastrophic injuries to key positions)? Do you think he’ll be fired if the team goes 7-5 this year? Hopefully, we don’t have to ponder these questions in November as we are pondering them today.

Poll

Taking injuries to key positions out of the equation, will Brian Kelly keep his job if the Irish finish 6-6 in 2017?

This poll is closed

  • 36%
    Yes.
    (369 votes)
  • 63%
    No.
    (645 votes)
1014 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Taking injuries to key positions out of the equation, will Brian Kelly keep his job if the Irish finish 7-5 in 2017?

This poll is closed

  • 60%
    Yes.
    (591 votes)
  • 39%
    No.
    (380 votes)
971 votes total Vote Now