The Notre Dame Fighting Irish gathered the media (beat and national) for a virtual press conference on Wednesday afternoon with Brian Kelly to discuss what’s happening at Notre Dame and its football program during this coronavirus pandemic.
Most of Kelly’s answers were pretty much what one would expect at this time. It’s not as if there’s a set date that things will get better, or any kind of past experience to draw on for reference. They truly are living one day at a time, but there is one very important day ahead, and that’s on May 15th.
“We’re going to have a meeting on May 15 to kind of further look at what the next step is. Certainly there are not going to be classes in the first summer session. Provost has made that clear in a memo to the entire community. But on May 15, we will look at it again in another five weeks whether there will be any changes relative to in-person, on campus, and that includes whether we get into any sports related activities.”
If you were wondering if the Irish have done anything specific to football in terms of actual play on the field, Kelly said that they have been doing some of that.
“So zoom meetings, we’ve had some installation as if it was a spring practice. We’ve added to our playbook through these meetings. We’re using video, we’re using some of the technology that zoom has, where we can have some handouts. So, we’ve started those up and making some pretty good progress.”
One of the big picture questions we all have been asking lately is about Notre Dame’s first game against the Navy Midshipmen in Dublin, Ireland. Kelly stated that discussions are already taking place about the possibility of moving that game to another location, but wasn’t able to expand much beyond that.
“Yeah, we’re certainly having discussions with that. Clearly we can’t just wait until May 15 to have the first discussion about going overseas. Those discussions are taking place. Jack, again, has a number of things on his plate right now. That is one of them. Navy’s aware of it. We’re looking at all options at this time. We’d like to play the game in Ireland, whether we can or not, that is still obviously a topic that is being discussed. But we’ll have some alternatives. Whether there’s a particular date, I can’t give you one right now, but I can tell you this, those discussions are underway. They’re certainly being deliberated as we speak, relative to where that game is going to be played.”
With the warm air of spring invading the midwest, it makes one think about graduations, and now the lack of an actual ceremony starts to sting more and more. I asked Kelly if he was planning anything special for his players and former players that are graduating.
“Yeah, it’s very important to us and as a matter of fact, that was one of our meetings today with FIM and we’re going to make sure that it is a special moment for all those that were going to walk. That’s an empty spot for them right now. A lot of our players that I’ve talked to are feeling that effect, that they’re not going to be able to have that special moment. Look, it’s hard at Notre Dame. Those guys have worked so hard in the classroom, on the field, have given up so much, and to not have that great moment, that crescendo moment of walking across that stage, it’s a pretty empty feeling. So, we’re in the process of putting together something very special for them that will bring back a lot of great memories, so they can finish it off. Although we can’t do it in person, we’re going to do it in video, in memory that really captures their experience and shows their graduation at Notre Dame.”
Another big question that that has been discussed a lot lately is about recruiting, and what Notre Dame is doing right now in that area. While he states that he and the staff are recruiting hard with the methods that are left to them, that May 15th meeting will be able to help give him more guidance on dates and events to come in the future.
Really working hard on relationship building, be it through written correspondence, text, social media, FaceTime, zoom meetings, we’re using all the platforms that are available to us. I think we’re making great progress. We’re really able to dig deep on what our distinctions are and what separates us. We’re utilizing our faculty and our support staff. We’re utilizing all the necessary means to really tell our story as to what our unique distinctions are and our strengths at Notre Dame. This time in respite, if you will, has given us that opportunity to really dig deep into this recruiting process, not knowing exactly what it’s going to look like in June and July. We’ve thrown out some dates in June. I think I’ve already mentioned that May 15 will be a date where we start to discuss whether there are the opportunities, whether they will exist, to do some selective things on campus. That is a date that is five weeks away. If there is a chance to do some things, then they’ll be investigated as such. No decision has been made that we’d have to cancel at this point, so we’re going to look at what the NCAA saying, no on-campus until May 31, we will obviously, certainly abide by those. We want to leave open the opportunity for June and July, the NCAA does in fact come back and say that that is an open opportunity. Our university has made it clear that there’s no in-person classes until July 6, that’s clear, so that’s why this May 15 date will be an opportunity to discuss further, whether there will be any exceptions to this. Again, I have no idea. I haven’t been given any assurances that that would happen. It’s just the opportunity to have that discussion as we move forward.
I’ve never been a part of a press conference with a pep talk before, but Kelly was asked to give one via Allison Hayes from ABC 57 — and he gave one.
“First of all, to our medical community and even our service workers, they’ve been out on the front line, our restaurants, our grocery stores, public service — thank you for all that you’ve done to keep us safe and keep us moving forward. And certainly our hospitals for the care that you’ve given us in these very, very difficult times. We will get through it. If we stay at home, if we stay vigilant, if we stay patient, we’re going to see ourselves on the other side of this and we’re going to be stronger for it. We have not won yet. We’re just getting to halftime. We got a second half to play here. Really good job in the first couple of quarters, but we’re just getting into the locker room and let’s look towards having a better second half. If we have a better second half, we’re going to win this game.”
You can watch the entire press conference in the video below which include a number of different things specific to the handling of players at a distance both with football and with their school work.