After the 31-14 loss the Notre Dame Fighting Irish suffered to the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Rose Bowl, Brian Kelly sat down at a press conference table to take questions from the media — and he was spicy.
Jude and I hammered it out in the OFD Podcast, and unfortunately I think, we both lost sight of the greater truth from these 20 minutes. Whether you agree or not, the entire press conference felt like a dad that is working his ass off to provide as much as he can for his family — and the wife and kids are still bitching for more (while living a very comfortable lifestyle).
Kelly has lead this team to a 43-8 record, 2 playoff appearances, and two bowl wins over the last 4 years. From a purely numbers standpoint, that’s a really nice run. For a lot of Notre Dame fans, media, and others... it’s no where near enough.
At Notre Dame — regardless of what has happened in the last 25 years — it ISN’T enough. Whether or not that’s a valid feeling to have in 2021 is for another time, but what has happened over these past 4 years is still really damn good.
The presser started off with a question about losing by a big margin and followed with a question about what Notre Dame has to do to take the next step. These type of questions have been handled with a little grace from Kelly before, but after two weeks of this type of noise... BK just wasn’t having it, and added a little spice.
“The margin is not the issue. Losing is losing. I don’t know really what the inference is. This football team battled. And they made a few more plays on the perimeter. I’m not sure, really, what the question is. When you lose football games, you know, there’s a few more plays that you have to make. We had the opportunity. You watched the game. I watched the game. We did not score in the red zone when we had opportunities. We moved the ball into the red zone. We missed a field goal. We had two opportunities in the red zone to score, where this would be a competitive football game. And we didn’t make enough plays. This wasn’t a matter of getting knocked off the ball or not having enough players to compete against Alabama. This was about making plays. And so, you know, I guess everybody needs to continue to carry this narrative that Notre Dame is not good enough. Look at the scores of the games that Alabama has played all year, and I think we need to start to change the narrative a little bit. This team was out there competing and having a chance to win. And I’m proud of the way our guys competed.”
“I don’t know how I need to — I really don’t want to continue to go down this path. We’re going to keep getting here, okay? And we’re going to keep banging at it and you guys watched the game, didn’t you? They made plays on the perimeter. They made some dynamic plays. They had the college football player of the year who made some dynamic plays. We battled. We were right there. So we’re going to keep getting back here. And I’m sorry if you don’t like it or if the national media doesn’t like it, but we’re going to go back to work. We’re going to keep recruiting and we’re going to put ourselves back in this position again. And I think our kids battled and played really hard and physical. We ran the ball today. And I’m not taking it personal, because these questions keep coming up like we have to reinvent ourselves. We were physical today. They were dynamic on the perimeter, like they have been all year. This is a really good football team. And we’re just going to keep recruiting and keep playing and we’re going to keep putting ourselves in this position. And that’s all we can do.”
And nothing he said here was wrong.
Alabama is ridiculously dynamic and has 3 of the top 5 Heisman finalists on its offense which averaged 50 points a game in 2020. It was the first time Alabama was held under 35 points since the 2018 National Championship game, and the Irish just didn’t make enough plays. Of course there will be those that try to invalidate Notre Dame’s season and inclusion in the playoff, and you really have to love Kelly basically saying “get used to it” when it comes to Notre Dame being on this stage.
Then things came off the rails a bit with the next question, and was where the OFD Podcast took a turn as well. After two questions of WHY AREN’T YOU ELITE Kelly was congratulated for a good season — and that was his moment to take a jab at the beat.
“That would be nice if our local people felt that way. But they don’t use any of those kinds of those terms. This is always about where our program needs to go. So I appreciate that. Thank you.”
This is the UNDERAPPRECIATED DAD moment. It’s when the neighbor comes says “hey man, nice landscaping” right after the wife gave you shit for 20 minutes about the gutters needing cleaned. You don’t hate your wife, and she’s absolutely right about the gutters, but FUUUCK you just spent 6 hours in the sun edging and mulching.
It’s fine. Frustrated coach is frustrated by things after a loss. This isn’t a new thing, and we are all probably making too much out of it.
After answering a question about what player he would give the Heisman to, Kelly was asked AGAIN about his Heisman vote by a radio guy that sounded higher than a kite. The frustration sinks in even more — and then “youngest son comic relief” sets in with a joke about the Heisman vote... and then another “next step question” was asked.
I’m surprised he didn’t throw his water bottle.
“You guys are killing me. Big games, big games. You mean when we play Alabama and Clemson, right? And those are the big games. Those are elite, talented teams that have elite players. I just mentioned four players that are going to be vying for the Heisman. When they’re on the perimeter, nobody has shut them down. Tell me who has tackled those guys. Everybody has the same problem that I do. It’s tackling those guys and getting them down. And it’s the same issue. I don’t have a unique problem at Notre Dame. I think you need to look at the scores that everybody played against Alabama and Clemson. Everybody’s got the same issue.So we’re going to keep recruiting. We’re going to keep getting back here and everybody can keep saying, you know, Notre Dame is not good enough. You know what? You’re going to have a problem because we’re going to keep winning games and keep getting back here and we’re going to break through. And then I am going to be terrible to be at a press conference with. Terrible.”
I mean really... I understand the energy BK was putting out in the presser. It’s never enough, and losing 31-14 isn’t going to win the hearts of everyone.
Clearly the Irish still have work to do on the recruiting trail to take down the giants of college football — but they’re right there, and plan on staying there to keep trying. I’m good with that. The fire and desire keeps things moving forward, and now it’s on to 2021... and a perfectly good fence needs moved because — never mind.