The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are losing one of the best offensive linemen it's ever had to the NFL in Quenton Nelson. Those aren't bold words - they are absolutely true words. (Also true is that Nelson got robbed of the Outland Award and that's not even debatable).
His father posted the following "letter" on a message board, and that post was posted on another message board. I bring it here to you without commentary, other than to say that I think it's an invaluable chance to read the thoughts, tone, and emotions from the parent of an all-time great. I have had a chance to speak or correspond with quite a few parents over the years, and I have always been fascinated with their point of view of the process.
Here it is in its entirety.
Quenton definitely thought LONG and HARD about staying...AGAIN.
I will bring you back to the day after the Echo Awards over a year ago when Q faced the very same decision. After listening to the people who really knew what they were talking about tell Q that he needs to leave, that there were very few good QB’s in the 2017 draft, even fewer good Offensive Lineman and that he would definitely go anywhere between the late teens and mid twenties, it was Brian Kelly’s turn to tell Quenton why he should return to ND for the 2017 season.
I can tell you in all honesty that we sat before a very tired and humbled head coach who began our discussion by taking full responsibility for the horrific season that was. He took his time listing all of the mistakes and faults he felt he personally had made, and in great detail, before even attempting to give Q a reason to return. He encouraged Quenton to come back and get his degree but more importantly he wanted Q to return to work on his leadership skills and become a larger part of a Notre Dame football program in which he promised “huge changes” and where “no stone would be left unturned”.
I don’t believe anyone can really appreciate the vast amounts of the strategic thinking and self reflection that Brian Kelly had to have made... in a very short amount of time... to transform the heart and culture of this team. But, as for Q, fortunately he had a front row seat.
From brutally honest player exit interviews and the early naming of vocal team leaders, BK had to get rid of the demeaning, under performing coaches (some of whom he had long personal ties to) and identify AND hire the “right kind of guys” like Long, Elko, Balis, and Polian who wanted to actually recruit and teach student athletes at Notre Dame. Coaches who would get totally in your face one day, but more importantly have their arm around you the next.
BK then had to get these new coaches all on the same same page to hold together the 2017 recruiting class together, while building an even stronger class for 2018. The Balis winter program was pure hell, but welcomed by a group of players wanted to put the travesty that was the prior season behind them. There were SWAT teams, over the top competitions and individual player accountability that reached out far beyond the weight room in the Gug.
BK turned to technology to monitor sleep and practice performance, hired Dr. Selking to help provide a psychological edge and a more simplified and consistent message between his staff and the players. There was a deeply rooted belief that thoughts control emotions which controls response and dictates performance.
All of these new coaches, new offensive schemes, defensive schemes,staff members, ideas and initiatives and just a few short months to bring them all together. How were these new coaches, who themselves had never worked together before, going to get over 100 players to buy in, and get them up to speed before facing Temple, Georgia at home, BC and Michigan State on the road to begin a season? Good luck with that!. And yet, I recall Q calling me after camp at Culver and telling me how much more “great coaching was going on” and how the work ethic and accountability that had been present in the winter workouts and spring ball had manifested itself into the summer.
Perhaps the greatest transformation of all came from coach Kelly himself. He had told us in that meeting that he had a burning desire to shed the public appearances and fund raising activities that demanded so much of his time and get back to being with his players. To his word, he was there at the Gug for the 4:30 a.m. lifts, had lunch, sometimes dinner with the players and established the types of relationships a coach in search of National Championships needs to have with his players. He had gotten out of the tower and into the trenches to become a coach that his players WANTED to WIN FOR. As Shawn Crawford was quoted as saying during one of the TV broadcasts this season, Coach Kelly had become that same guy who had recruited him in his living room during his in home visit.
I think the single toughest thing Coach Kelly did was one that, as a former coach, I don’t think I could have even done. How much balls did it take for a coach who is probably on the hottest seat in college football to turn over the play calling, “the keys to the car”, to a new OC that he had never even worked with before. Even IF JS had something to do with that decision as others have speculated, BK still had to check his ego at the door, go with it and damn well do it.
There are those on this board who are not particularly thrilled with ND going 10-3 from 4-8 and those who still believe that there is a “better man out there to lead ND back to their glory days”. I would ask you WHO?, and don’t give me the Urban Meyer, Nick Saban BS. First of all, Urban flat out told Q that he would “hate South Bend” and that his wife refused to go back and live there and would flat out not let him take the position when it was offered AND neither one of them could or would coach here under the rules, restrictions requirements and standards that are Notre Dame.
Ironically, it was these very standards, the quality of players, the coaches and Notre Dame itself that made Q think long and hard about staying......
AGAIN. How do you leave all of your brothers behind and say goodbye to the best Offensive Line Coach in college football (that people on this board and others still question and complain about) How do you thank a man who gave all that he had, did all that he promised and left no stone unturned?
I think everyone would agree that we got beat by 1 point by a VERY GOOD Georgia team. We were totally not prepared for the environment that was Hard Rock, and leading 20 - 17, we could not overcome 3 turnovers in the fourth quarter vs. Stanford. It’s that simple AND we were that close. Not bad for a team that was in total shambles one year ago.
I believe that this past season was “just the first coat of paint” and that Notre Dame football is headed in the right direction, led by a man who would be very difficult to replace. Think about this for a moment: How does a leader become a “players coach” while at the very same time demanding far more of his players than EVER BEFORE? This is what occurred, this is something to build on.
If I had only one last thing to say, it would be to sincerely thank all of the coaches, and teammates that Quenton leaves behind. If I had one more wish, it would be that the fans, readers and posters on this forum stand more firmly behind these very same coaches, and players who work so damn hard and hate to lose even more than you do.
CAN’T WAIT FOR MICHIGAN...LOVE THEE ALWAYS