Notre Dame Football: Coach Kelly’s Family Feud
In the wake of Coach Brian Kelly’s uncharacteristic media blunder, the Fighting Irish proceeded to dismantle the Midshipman of Navy 56-14. Though many would agree that Coach Kelly made a huge mistake by singling out publicly the Weis recruits from the Kelly recruits and risking a fracture in the locker room, some in the Irish nation believe that it needed to be done.
Many came into the season with high expectations pointing to the success of Bob Stoops, Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer in their second year with recruits from a previous regime. Similar expectations were hoisted upon Kelly. However, these individuals with unreasonable expectations failed to recognize that Stoops, Tressel and Meyer stepped into programs that were already quite successful. Kelly stepped into a program that had stopped being relevant the minute Lou Holtz retired. The task at hand for Kelly was considerably more difficult than that of Stoops, Tressel and Meyer. It was not only a matter of changing the direction of a suffering program, but also changing a losing culture.
The Weis era recruits had, until Coach Kelly’s arrival, experienced some limited success, lost more than they had won, and become accustomed to competing on the fringes of the college football world. Coach Kelly was expected to change that mindset and return this once storied program to a place among college football’s elite with players who have not been very successful in their time at Notre Dame and with players he did not recruit. That is a very tall order.
With the embarrassing loss to USC, and with the spectacular fashion this year’s team has lost games this season, Kelly’s frustration boiled over for all to see in the heavily scrutinized world of Notre Dame football. However, Kelly was not the only one to call out the Weis era players. Notre Dame great, Aaron Taylor similarly called out the Weis era recruits and insisted that they start leading this team, and that they start acting the part of a Notre Dame football player and all that that entails.
Reports are that all has been forgiven and the event has pulled this group together and moved them in a positive direction. Concerns still abound about the possibility that Coach Kelly has lost this team, but there was a noticeable difference from a spectator’s perspective in the team’s demeanor on Saturday. They had something to prove. They had a chip on their shoulder. They were angry and they took it out on an undermanned Midshipman football team.
Although there is no question that Coach Kelly made one of the cardinal sins of coaching, that is calling out his team publicly, it will be interesting to see what the long term impact of this act will be.