by David Shott
As soon as Charlie Weis was fired, I knew Brian Kelly was going to be the next head coach at the University of Notre Dame.
Actually, as soon as Notre Dame lost to the University of Connecticut on November 21, I knew Charlie Weis was going to be fired, and I knew Brian Kelly was going to be the next head coach at Notre Dame.
Maybe it was even when Notre Dame lost to Navy on November 7. The point is, this has been a long time coming, and I am not surprised in the least.
But it still does not take the sting away from the open wound of Kelly’s departure from Cincinnati.
Let me start by saying that I understand this from Brian Kelly’s perspective. It supposedly has always been his dream job. He is going to get a substantial increase in yearly salary. It is a bit narrow-minded and naïve to suggest that another person should not accept their dream job, while making a lot more money in the process. Would you decline such a promotion in your line of work?
Now that that’s out of the way, let me be bitter. What more can you ask for out of your job than back to back BCS bids to the Orange Bowl and Sugar bowl respectively? Is being ranked third in the country not good enough for you? The University has an opportunity to go to a BCS game every year for the foreseeable future being in the Big East. The Big East is not as strong a conference as say the SEC or the Big 12, but it is awarded an automatic bid to a BCS game just the same. Getting into BCS bowl games earns millions of dollars for the university, and some of this money could be funneled to Brian Kelly through incentives and bonuses.
As seemingly easy as it is for the University of Cincinnati to make a BCS game year in and year out, it is the polar opposite for Notre Dame. Notre Dame is an independent, meaning that it has no affiliation with any conference. Notre Dame then schedules extremely difficult schedules, not being bound by any requirements to play teams within a conference. Also, the high admission standards to play for the school make it challenging to recruit some of the top players in the country necessary to compete for a national championship.
Obviously Kelly is a great coach and University of Cincinnati fans should be thrilled to have had him for these 3 great seasons. However, as star receiver Mardy Gilyard said, coach Kelly “just ran the show. We competed in the show.” Sure, Kelly put the players in the position to win football games. But if you look closer, the most instrumental players on the team were not his. Tony Pike and Mardy Gilyard? Recruited by former coach Mark Dantonio. The 10 starters on defense that graduated last year that helped lead the team to the Orange Bowl last year? Recruited by Mark Dantonio. My point is, not all of the recent success of UC's footbal program should be attributed to Kelly. Good luck to him recruiting some of the best players in the country necessary to win a national championship while also needing to achieve the heightened admission standards at the University of Notre Dame.
Thanks, Coach Kelly, for all the memories. The grass is always greener on the other side, isn’t it coach? While I don't regret our time together and certainly can't truly fault you for leaving, I'll leave you with this thought. Let’s see how many BCS bowl games you can get to at Notre Dame. My guess is less than what Cincinnati has achieved in the past 2 years.
With that said, let's go Butch Jones! (new UC coach announced last week)