Examining The Brian Kelly Hype Machine

By Curt Popejoy
Brian Kelly Notre Dame
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

With several NFL head coaching positions still open, the list of available candidates becomes more and more interesting. It seems like every week that there are still openings there becomes a new name for everyone to buzz about. This past week the name on everyone’s list was Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly – but the only question that kept coming to mind for me was, “why?”.

Kelly followed up his BCS beat down at the hands of the University of Alabama with a series of interviews with NFL franchises, but chose to return to Notre Dame next season after several interviews. Now, I haven’t heard if he was actually offered a head coaching job and then chose to return to the college ranks, or if it was simply the case that no one wanted him and so he had no other option.

But I ask again, why would an NFL team want Kelly? Kelly is touted as a coach who can turn programs around in a hurry. At Central Michigan, he was there three seasons, going from 4-7 in his first year and 9-4 in his third year. Sounds good, right?

He then left Central Michigan and headed to Cincinnati where he stayed three seasons, going 34-6 record in the brutal Big East.  At that point, he accepted his current coaching position with the Fighting Irish and coincidentally, after his third season, he started to get a little restless and was considering a change. That said, I would contend that what Kelly has done at Notre Dame has been, on some level, smoke and mirrors.

Think about it like this – he came into the fold at Notre Dame in early 2010, meaning his impact on the 2010 recruiting class would have been minimal. So if you look at the players on this team who were his – they’re essentially freshman and sophomores. This team was lead by 29 seniors and 24 juniors, so in a sport that really is won and lost in recruiting, can we say with any certainty to this point Kelly is much of a coach at all, or has he simply made the rounds, using up the talent on the roster and moving on? Just something to think about.

Regardless, there’s nothing in Kelly’s resume that says he could build a winning NFL team. I think it’s novel that all these college coaches are so en vogue right now, but when I hear the names of the potential NFL coaches from the college ranks, Brian Kelly’s name seems really out of place. NFL teams need to avoid the hype and go with a coach who can come in and command a team, bring in players that will help them win and implement a system that can be successful. Nothing I have see from Kelly in his tenures in college football have led me to believe he can do any of those things.


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