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When the shoe drops

Dec 9, 2009, 7:30 AM EDT

With billows of smoke following Brian Kelly’s every move, it’s very likely he’ll be the man named the next football coach at Notre Dame. While his hiring brings to mind Kevin White’s ill-fated “central casting” comments from the introduction of George O’Leary, the fact that Kelly fits the profile of the man leading the Fighting Irish does nothing to ensure his success at Notre Dame.

If Brian Kelly is named the head coach at Notre Dame, the challenges he’ll need to deal with starting day one will be imperative to his success. When the shoe drops, here are Kelly’s three chief concerns:


If Kelly becomes head coach at Notre Dame, he’ll demand final say on his coaching staff. People have speculated who stays and who goes from the current Notre Dame coaching staff, but there’s no way to know for sure. I suspect Jack Swarbrick will request that Kelly meet with all the current assistants that have remained on staff after Weis was let go on November 30th. By reputation, Kelly would be smart to do so. Coaches like Rob Ianello, Tony Alford, Brian Polian, and Corwin Brown are thought of as elite recruiters. Coaches Randy Hart and Frank Verducci are regarded as master tacticians. Whether those coaches fit with Kelly and his philosophies will be anyone’s guess. Coaches like Brown, with strong loyalties to Weis and plucked from the NFL, might head back to the professional ranks. Whatever the case, Kelly’s decision on a coaching staff, especially at the defensive coordinator position, will be at the forefront.


While any hope to land a whale like Bob Stoops has passed for most Irish fans, what made an elite coach like that so intriguing is his ability to land an equally gigantic recruit. Stoops and Urban Meyer, another coach high atop many Irish wish-lists, have track records of landing blue-chip recruits on both sides of the ball. Brian Kelly doesn’t fit into that grouping.

If Kelly is going to succeed during his tenure in South Bend, his work in the living room will need to be as good as his work on the sidelines. Having the ability to find a diamond in the rough is essential for any coach. But closing the deal on a player that everybody knows about is another animal, and Kelly hasn’t had to do that yet. Notre Dame fans had to feel lucky that Charlie Weis, a man with zero recruiting experience, turned into an elite college recruiter. From all reports, Kelly is a charming man with the zest of a politician, but he’ll also lack the prop of three Super Bowl rings and an NFL ready offense. If Kelly can retain the recruits that Notre Dame has, and figure out a way to swing one or two of the blue-chippers on the board to South Bend, he’ll be well on his way.


Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate leaving early won’t be Kelly’s largest challenge. It’ll be installing his offense without quarterback Dayne Crist available. The promising sophomore signal caller could be a great fit for Kelly’s offense, but we’ll likely only find out come next fall, when Crist will be taking the first full-speed reps since he tore his ACL. I expect the Irish to schedule spring practice as late as possible, giving Crist as much time to get healthy as possible. 

Offensively, the Irish will need to get a group of fairly green offensive linemen familiar with a completely different scheme. Wide receivers like Duval Kamara and Shaq Evans will need to make the jump to the next level and step up in Tate’s absence, as they try to learn an offense that won’t have a scholarship quarterback in uniform this Spring.

Defensively, a group of promising youngsters will need to get their confidence back and learn how to play (at the very least) average defense. Kelly will also have to deal with the unique situation surrounding Manti Te’o, who has yet to comment on whether or not he’ll be taking his Mormon mission. If Te’o leaves for a mission, there’s no guarantee he’ll ever return to campus.

We’ll likely find out in the next day or two if Brian Kelly ends up being the man who’s picked to lead the Irish. If he is, his first weeks in charge of the program will be critical to his success. 

  1. GoIrish - Dec 10, 2009 at 11:33 AM

    first of all, I’d like to say robertg is a douchebag!
    I don’t think Meyer will come back to ND, at least not now. Yes I said back to ND. Some of you appear to forget he was an assistant coach at ND before.
    I believe Kelly can turn this program around, some of you feel he was given wins at Cincy this year. Remember he has been successful every where he has coached. I also believe that Kelly has already been hired and that we could find out as early as Friday. Cincy has a team banquet tonight so I don’t believe it will be announced before he can address his team.
    Go Irish!!!!

  2. IndianaJoe - Dec 10, 2009 at 1:27 PM

    The argument about talent at ND goes on and on. Here is a simple example of the talent compared to Alabama, who has had a fairly successful year. ND’s offensive line has one 5 star and four 4 star starters. All but one are seniors. Alabama (remember they have an above average running game!!!) has no 5 star, two 4 star, one 3 star and two 2 star starting linemen. Now I know this is a pretty small sample, but it is interesting.
    The reason (according to IndianaJoe at least) is that these guys were not developed any further in fundamentals. Sam Young looked no better in his last game than he did in his first. When you have 260 pound guys blowing by and over 300+ pound guys, something is wrong.
    Weis couldn’t motivate anyone other that Clausen and maybe some of the wide receivers. Weis just plain couldn’t relate to the players. He said something during his first year that went something like this: “I love all my starters”. That’s good if you are one of the top 22, but what about the other 80 or so players. They were lost in the noise.
    Finally, Weis, in spite of his bragging to the contrary, couldn’t call plays to save his life. There was no variety, the number of plays were limited and he rarely would stick with the running game.
    I like Tuberville because he likes the running game and strong defense. You’ve got to have a running game to keep the LB and secondary honest.
    Got Lou Holtz back. I would like that too. Okay, I know it won’t happen, but I can still dream.

  3. IndianaJoe - Dec 10, 2009 at 1:35 PM

    robertg, you need to check into rehab. You have been doing some bad stuff for too long.

  4. john - Dec 10, 2009 at 3:24 PM

    I am so f’ing sick and tired of all this three star four star five star garbage! How about a coach who uses his gut instincts when he recruits and stop following this star system GARBAGE!Time to face the facts give me a 1 star recruit that a great coach has good gut feeling about and can mold into a great player anyday over these overrated entitled children IE JIMMY CLAUSEN!! Oh Jimmy was lights out except was he really?? No he sucked and has an ego that his playing is far from being able to back up! Sam Young sucked Paul Duncan sucked and on and on and on!!!

  5. robertg - Dec 10, 2009 at 4:05 PM

    1. charlie and his staff and notre dame’s student athletes who also played football for notre dame in 2009 were awarded the 2009 academic achievement award today by the american football coaches association.
    2. combined with notre dame’s real record of 12-0 after our experts have made the adjustments for the dishonest officiating, these 2 achievements in the same season are a 1st for notre dame and for any school in the nation.
    3. what have swarbrick and jenkins done? they got rid of charlie and his staff. they are driving away what would have been another no 1 recruiting class and neither swarbrick or jenkins has done anything to challenge to current corrupt officiating, rules enforcement, and rankings systems which have turned college football into the massive con operation that it is now.
    4. swarbrick and jenkins have been turned down by every qualified coach in the us, although someone may step up just to take the cash and then retire after he and his family gets betrayed and fired by notre dame’s administration during the next cycle.
    5. the qualified coaches know about college football and about dishonest officiating. they also know that what outstanding jobs charlie and his staff and notre dame’s student athletes who also play football have done and that none of them could even come close to doing nearly as well as charlie and his staff and that they cannot trust swarbrick and jenkins and notre dame’s administration.
    6. the most qualified coaches in the us have already cast their votes and said no to swarbrick and jenkins, no matter how much money( money that belongs to other people) they are offerred.
    7. today’s flavor of the day is jim harbaugh of stanford, who has brought a certain level off success to stanford football by using the services of dishonest officials, as he did against notre dame in 2007, 2008, and 2009(only 2009 produced a phony win on paper).
    8. we all remember that brady quinn did not even get invited to new york for the heisman charade despite quinn’s stats.
    9. well, without the knowledge of stanford’s board of trustees, harbaugh has signed stanford football up for a full membership in crooked college football enterprises and gerhard has been invited to new your for the heisman ceremony and the proprietors of crooked college football enterprises just might arrange for gerhard to win or, at least. place on saturday.
    10. notre dame is currently ranked 20th on the annual list of america’s best colleges.
    11. also in the top 25 are stanford in a tie for no.l 4, duke at no. 10,northwestern at no.12, vanderbilt at no 17, cal-berkeley at no. 21, georgetown at no. 23, and ucla and university of virginia tied at no. 25.
    12. except for cal-berkeley, which has a 2 track academic system with a separate dumbed down version for football players, and georgetown, which does not play bcs division football, the other schools do not cheat their student athletes who also play football of real college educations.
    13.only stanford has, through harbaugh, signed up as a full scale participant in crooked college sports enterprises.
    14.if notre dame really wants to fulfill notre dame’s special missions in this world, notre dame will choose the ivy league option and not sign up with crooked college football enterprises.
    15. for people like us who have gathered the evidence( which is still pouring in, along with lots of settlement money), the solution for notre dame is quite obvious.
    16. for people who are still victims of the officiating and other scams being perpetrated by the proprietors of crooked colle football enterprises, there are suckers born every second and many of them choose to remain that way throughout their lives.
    17. indiana joe. see a competent trial attorney, show the attorney your post and have the attorney explain to you what libel per se is and what the civil legal consequences are for your material assets of putting such a post on the internet.
    18.indiana joe, we do thank you for your material possesions. no one has to read our posts and anyone who does can disagree without subjecting themselves to civil liabilities, as you have been stupid enough to do, along with stephen of troy and a few others and after many careful warnings.

  6. JKS65 - Dec 10, 2009 at 4:18 PM


  7. JKS65 - Dec 10, 2009 at 4:26 PM


  8. Jake - Dec 10, 2009 at 5:06 PM

    Indiana Joe. Boy you must be terrified. However, relax. To sue you for defamation he has to show you have harmed him in some lasting and concrete way.
    He’s already accomplished that all by himself.

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