In the third game of the 2021 season, Brian Kelly has tied Knute Rockne as the all-time wins leader at Notre Dame. On a warm and sunny Saturday afternoon, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish took out the Purdue Boilermakers 27-13. In many regards, it’s pure poetry that Brian Kelly got that 105th win today.
Kelly’s first ever game as the Irish head coach was against Purdue on a day very much like today, and that’s also the first win — a 23-12 contest that was mostly a forgettable affair. The rest of Kelly’s tenure has been anything but forgettable, and that even included the bad stuff.
After the Purdue game, Kelly attributed his success at Notre Dame to the longevity of his time in South Bend. Getting to 105 means you have to be in one place for a very long time, and have a lot of help along the way. Twelve years at Notre Dame is the same as several lifetimes, but Kelly looks like he could put in 12 more years of work (which is highly unlikely).
Tying a record is one thing, but breaking that record is another thing altogether. It means you stand alone, and above any and all that came before you — usually. Brian Kelly still doesn’t have a national championship and if he leaves Notre Dame with 150 wins (or whatever) and zero titles, you still can’t place him above Rockne, or Leahy, or Ara, or Devine, or Lou. You just can’t do it — not at Notre Dame.
Brian Kelly is going to be the all-time wins leader soon enough, and it should be enough to forever place his name as one of the all-time greats at Notre Dame. In a ridiculous amount of ways, he already has done that, but the record helps the narrative. If BK were to ever win a title at Notre Dame — in this day and age — then we need no preambles. He is just great.