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Notre Dame Football: The Michigan Game Should Not Be A Referendum On Brian Kelly

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Late Saturday night, Notre Dame will either be 1-0 or 0-1. Let’s not make more or less than it is.

Citrus Bowl presented by Overton’s - LSU v Notre Dame Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

If you haven’t heard, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish have a huge game to open the season up with against the Michigan Wolverines. The spotlight is once again directed at the Golden Dome, and national stature is on the line for both Notre Dame and Michigan.

For a lot of Irish fans, the outcome of this game will spark a furious outpouring of opinion about Brian Kelly. Notre Dame fans can’t help themselves, as the “state of the program” is the direction of the conversation after most games — but in particular after a loss.

There’s no doubt that Saturday’s game won’t be any different, but is that fair? Is it fair to hinge such black and white opinions on the first game of the season?

It should be noted that during the 2016 season (and after) I was calling for Brian Kelly to be fired as the head coach of Notre Dame football. It was a season that just screamed BURN IT ALL DOWN AND START OVER. It’s not that I was wrong — or that I was right, but I think it’s important for you to know my view on Brian Kelly before I ask the most impossible thing from you, Joe/Jane Irish Fan...

Don’t make Saturday’s game about Brian Kelly’s job (the future or lack thereof). Obviously, a 42-0 pounding of Michigan or suffering our own humiliating 38-0 loss is another matter altogether — but neither scenario is even remotely being whispered. I know it will be next to impossible for Kelly “haters” (fans who refuse to admit when Kelly has done well) or Kelly “lovers” (fans that refuse to admit when Kelly screws up) to hold back their general views after this game.

I just firmly believe that if this game goes as everyone expects, which is a close and low-scoring game, anyone calling for a casket or a statue would be severely overstating the situation at the moment. It’s not like either would happen anyway.

The title of this post includes the phrase “should not be.” Despite my hopes that we can just enjoy a football game for what it is, without worlds colliding and grandiose opinions being flung around like beads on Bourbon Street, I am already bracing for the impact winter of 1-0 or 0-1 with 11 more State of the Programs to go.

Welcome to the Notre Dame football season.