Last season was just about as bad as it gets for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football program. A 4-8 record that would have been unbelievable to anyone in the preseason, and a fan/alum meltdown during the season that is totally believable.
It was just one god damned hot mess after another.
A season like that has a tendency to draw lines in the sand (or dirt). Jack Swarbrick drew his line, and decided to retain head football coach Brian Kelly. He could have very easily dismissed Kelly after last season and had a strong defense for doing so. A lot of what happened in 2016 was Brian Kelly's fault, and despite those that refuse to keep their ears open, Kelly has admitted to being the problem in how he did things. So, a Kelly dismissal would have been totally justified after season number eight.
Instead, Brian Kelly gets another year, and has made sweeping changes across the program to correct the wrongs of last season and other seasons before that crapfest. The Irish hired four new coordinators in Chip Long (offense), Mike Elko (defense), Brian Polian (special teams / recruiting), and Matt Balis (strength and conditioning).
In a lot of ways, the staff looks as though a new head coach was indeed hired. This is the reason so many Notre Dame fans are excited and also the reason so many Notre Dame fans are concerned. Is it enough? Depending upon which side you fall on, it has probably determined how you feel right now as we enter week one for the 2017 season.
Are you excited or are you dreading the possibility of another 13-week nightmare?
Personally, I have fallen on the latter side for most of the offseason. It's hard not to when just a short decade earlier, the Irish went 3-9 and followed that up with campaigns of 7-6 and 6-6. I still have a fairly decent memory, and Italian blood only enhances the mood for vendetta.
Still, I have found myself getting more and more excited for the season as August gets closer and closer to turning into September. It's a cautious optimism for sure, but it's still far more than I ever would have thought, given all the circumstances of last season.
Can a nightmare turn into a dream? Can that dream become a reality? While I don't really want to get too philosophical here, the 2016 season, the 2017 preseason, and 28 years without a national championship will do that to a person.
There's plenty of evidence that points to the continuation of the nightmare, but there also has been so much change that one would have to think that it will be different somehow. Somehow, the darkness turns into the light, and we will all be dancing wildly on our fieldturf with a giant jumbotron behind us playing like your favorite dance club.
It's week one, and until it turns into week two, there is going to be no way of knowing anything. Can a nightmare turn into a dream? Sure — but you have to wake up first. Maybe that's exactly what Brian Kelly did this offseason. I'm just not completely sold yet — Hello, Temple Owls.
Why We'll Win: Notre Dame
After a 4-8 season, even Notre Dame Football fans can dream of a national championship. 0-0 buddy!Posted by One Foot Down - For Notre Dame Fighting Irish fans on Thursday, August 24, 2017