Eric Loomis introduces us to the Brian Kelly era of Notre Dame Football.
On Thursday night news broke that Brian Kelly had agreed to become the 29th head football coach at the University of Notre Dame. Coming off of two consecutive Big East titles and a perfect 12-0 season, the move came as no surprise to those close to the situation. It was time for Kelly to move to the big time world of college football and it was time for Notre Dame to finally hire the right man for the job.
Kelly’s track record is certainly impressive. Back to back conference titles and BCS births, a 36-4 record with the Bearcats, three time Big East coach of the year, 2009 national coach of the year, two Division II national titles at Grand Valley State, and a Mid-American Conference title in 2006. He is a coach capable of doing more with less and has proven to get the most out of his players. His personality is described as infectious and his charisma has been labeled as something that will allow him to succeed in recruiting on the national level. His game day persona is that of a task master willing to get in the faces of his players and assistants and challenge them to be their very best. He will need all of this to succeed under the golden dome.
The recent history of the Notre Dame Football program is one of bitter failure and consistent mediocrity. For one of the most storied programs in the history of the game, the last 15 or so years have been and abject disaster full of embarrassment at every turn. Even when the program seemed to be on the rebound there was always a blow-out BCS game loss or a defeat at the hands of a service academy to remind the faithful of their rightful place in the current college football landscape.
In the years since Lou Holtz was unceremoniously run out of town the University of Notre Dame has technically had four head coaches, though one never even coached a game. Bob Davie, George O’Leary, Tyrone Willingham, and Charlie Weis all failed to wake up the long distant echoes and shake down the seemingly mythical thunder that once shook South Bend, Indiana. With the possible exception of Davie, an assistant under Holtz who played a big role in him leaving, none of these men started at the top of the list when the job became available. O’Leary only got the job when Jon Gruden fell through- and his lies and deceit led to the hiring of Tyrone Willingham, who did his best to destroy the football program from the inside out. Charlie Weis took over after a very public and embarrassing “no thanks” from former golden son Urban Meyer, and brought some fire and pride back to the Irish, but in the end it wasn’t enough. This time however, it’s different.
Brian Kelly was the target. He was the list. Sure, Bob Stoops was approached and feelers were most certainly extended to Urban Meyer, but those two were pipe dreams all along, and anyone who doesn’t realize that needs to wake up and smell the whiskey. The national coach of the year now calls South Bend, Indiana home.
There are certainly questions to be answered. Can he recruit on a national scale? Can he handle the media attention and scrutiny without saying something stupid? How will his offense translate against the big boys of college football? Can he deliver a BCS quality defense? These will be answered in time. All that is certain right now is Weis left the cupboard stocked with 4 and 5 star talent and Kelly gets the best out of the talent he has. Weis proved Notre Dame could recruit on a national level even with the academic restrictions. Now it’s on Brian Kelly to finish the job and get that talent to play up to its rankings.
Luckily for Kelly and for Notre Dame this hire will be “the one.” Brian Kelly will be the one who returns Notre Dame to glory…He doesn’t have a choice, this is the last chance.