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Brian Kelly is ready for his close up

Dec 10, 2009, 5:40 PM EST

After ten days of wild rumors, wild goose chases, and wild denials, it’s being reported that Brian Kelly has agreed to coach the Notre Dame football team. The agreement ends a clandestine search orchestrated by Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, his first real test as the man in charge of his alma mater’s athletic department since taking the job sixteen months ago. While many assumed that Kelly would be the one ultimately tapped to be the next man in charge of the Irish football program, the way the decision came to be was far from routine.

Brian Kelly walks away from a 12-0 Cincinnati football team that will now play the Florida Gators in the Sugar Bowl with Kerry Combs as the interim head coach. That Kelly was willing to walk away from a team that was a 48-yard field goal and a replay official away from playing in the BCS National Championship game goes to show you that the Notre Dame job still means something.

Kelly wasn’t only willing to leave town before a bowl game against the mighty Florida Gators,  he was willing to take over a Notre Dame team that just lost it’s two most prolific offensive weapons, Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate. It’s a team that will now rely on untested and unhealthy quarterback Dayne Crist, who is only 40 days removed from an ACL tear in his right knee. Even with the instability at quarterback, Kelly’s largest problem will be solving an Irish defense that was historically bad.

So why would a coach that’s presiding over a top college program in a conference ripe for the taking be willing to walk away and take over a Notre Dame program that hasn’t consistently won in 20 years? As we all get to know Brian Kelly, the answer will become obvious.

Brian Kelly has won football games at every stop in his coaching career. He won prodigiously at Grand Valley State. He won big at Central Michigan. He pushed Cincinnati to the apex of college football. And while Kelly won football games with offensive wizardry and tenacious defense, his greatest skill of all might be his upward mobility.

“He’s a salesman, is what he is,” Grand Valley State coach Chuck Martin said of Kelly back in 2007. “Whether it’s Grand Valley State or Central Michigan or Cincinnati, he has kids believing they can move mountains. His number one strength is offense. His number two strength is how good he is politically at getting people to believe in his program. He sells it door to door, which not a lot of coaches do. I remember at Central Michigan, somebody asked him how long the rebuilding cycle would be. He said, ‘About 10 seconds.'”

That Kelly believes he can move mountains should come as no surprise. That Kelly would be willing to jump into the eye of the media storm that comes along with the job and tackle the ghosts of Notre Dame’s past, should be enough evidence that Kelly’s self-belief is far from wavering.

Kelly will be named the ESPN Home Depot Coach of the Year tonight, but he’ll face a much larger task when he meets the press for the very first time as the head coach of Notre Dame. He’d be wise to take note of his predecessor’s stumbles when meeting the press for the first time, and no doubt Kelly will now that anything he says today or tomorrow will be used against him in the years to come.

While many Irish fans hoped for Urban Meyer or Bob Stoops, the hiring of Brian Kelly is solid, if not spectacular. For the first time since Lou Holtz, the Irish will be managed by a battle-tested, proven winner at the collegiate level. While there will surely be growing pains, there likely won’t be any of the fatal flaws that doomed the last three regimes.

More important than Xs and Os, Kelly’s political savvy and ability to sell an image could be his greatest asset, as he tackles a job that’s become one of the more polarizing posts in major sports. Notre Dame is in desperate need of a coach that can become a media darling. Kelly’s quick ascent to the top has shown us he’s capable on the sidelines. As we’ll find out in the days the come, he’s more than ready for his time in the spotlight as well. 

101 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. StephenOfTroy - Dec 14, 2009 at 3:07 AM

    So, Robert, I take it that you’re not willing to settle on the terms I offered.
    Well, I’m in a flexible mood. Let’s negotiate. Any word on that half-eaten apple I mentioned earlier? Another of the people in your crosshairs mentioned something about a sandwich. Could I get one of those? I don’t feel like looking through the fridge again, but I could go for a late night snack.
    If your process server shows up with either the aforementioned apple or sandwich, I will be happy to accept service of whatever nonsense you cribbed from a Nolo Press book at Barnes & Noble. Otherwise, your process server faces the wrath of my battle-tested combat veteran jack russell terrier. You’ve been warned, doofus.

  2. robertg - Dec 14, 2009 at 3:41 AM

    1.we do have some updates for anyone in the notre dame community who is still the victim of the media spins about kelly’s honesty, integrity, and loyalty.
    2. we have gathered sworn declarations from many of the student athletes who played for kelly at cincinnati, central michigan, and elsewhere,
    3. based on these sworn declarations and the live civil court testimont which will folllow. kelly’s ratings for honesty and integrity, and loyaly are zero.
    4. kelly continued to lie to his student athletes at cincinnati long after he had reached an agreement in principle with purcell,swarbrick, jenkins, and others at notre dame.
    5. after all, kelly still needed to use these young men to beat pittsbugh, even though kelly had the officials in his back pocket.
    6. if anyone wants to bother looking at the cincinnati roster, he or she will find a familiar name, former notre dame qb demetrius jones.
    7. although charlie and his staff honorably offerred demetrius the chance to play other positions at notre dame and to get a top quality education at notre dame, someone named kelly contacted demetrius and promised demetrius that he would be the starting qb at cincinnati.
    8. did demetrius ever get that promised opportunity or any real college education? no. of course, the oral promises were never reduced to writing and demetrius ended up with zero nfl future and no real college education.
    9. where did kelly learn how to lie and cheat so well? from his boston alderman father. in boston, as in chicago, dishonesty, lack of integrity and lack of loyalty are the roads to suceess.
    10. kelly learned those tactics very well from his father and has used those tactics throughout his life.
    11. did purcell and swarbick and jenkins and others at notre dame know about kelly’s past history before they used notre dame’s money to hire kelly? they most certainly did and they all continue to lie to notre dame’s student athletes,to recruits( not buying into this con), to the notre dame community, and to the public, soiling notre dame’s name and reputation.
    12. we have provided plenty of information and links for members of the notre dame community. the rest is up to them with the only real issue being whether or not purcell, swarbrick,jenkins and everyone else involved in these atrocities at notre dame are still at notre dame when we hit those people with our civil rico lawsuits.
    13. we do not want to drag notre dame into the sewers along with purcell, swarbrick, jenkins, kelly, and others.
    14. however, we will be forced to do exactly that unless the notre dame community cuts out those cancers 1st.
    15. we did have to make that choice with priests, bishops, and cardinals in our own roman catholic church and, while the process wass extremely ugly, we did what was required and cut the cancers out of our own roman catholic church.
    GO IRISH!!!

  3. robertg - Dec 14, 2009 at 8:44 AM

    1. for any member of the notre dame community who has not checked, kelly also has a bcs history.
    2. in last year’s orange bowl, kelly’s cincinnati team was soundly defeated by a very mediocre vtech team 20-7 at the bcs bowl that no one wanted to attend based on the large number of unsold seats.
    3. every season, one of the bcs bowls does get stuck with the big least football champion and the acc basketball conference championship football team.
    4. it is no wonder that take the money and run kelly bailed out before the public could watch florida dismantle the”genius” coach’s cincinnati team.
    5. we certainly have the utmost respect for cincinnati’s 2009 student athletes, but, without kelly’s officials in his back pocket, this cincinnati team really lost at least 4 games in 2009 already.
    6. kelly also bailed out on his central michigan team for the cincinnato job before central michigan played in their bowl game.
    7. when kelly finally told his cincinnati student athletes the truth about his move to notre dame after cincinnati’s annual football banquet and had the gall to thank his student athletes for making it possible for kelly to get the notre dame job, every member of the cincinnati team left immediately in total disgust.
    8. credibility of kelly with recruits? zero. notre dame’s current recruiting network was rebuilt from scratch by charlie, who had to and did win back the trust of recruits and their families and high school coaches all over the us with charlie’s honesty and integrity.
    9. kelly’s recruiting pull in ohio? negative. kelly’s house in cincinnati with the for sale sign out in front really did get pelted with rotten eggs by ennraged cincinnati fans, not because kelly left, but because he lied to everyone, including recruits. the word about things such as kelly’s lack of integrity, honesty, and loyalty.
    10. respect for kelly among nfl coaches and owners? zero.jimmy clausen and golden tate have already voted against purcell, swarbrick, jenkins and kelly, although swarbrick and the others have desperately tried to change their minds.
    11. there is no question that both jimmy clausen and golden tate really loved what notre dame should stand for and no longer does.
    12. did purcell and swarbrick and jenkins know about all of these things before they fired charlie and hired kelly?
    13. they most certainly did. were they turned down by numerous other really qualified coaches before they had no option left but kelly.
    14.the contacts were all made by an executive search firm( with zero expertise in evaluating college or nfl football coaches) hired by purcell, swarbrick, jenkins, and certain others in the current notre dame admistration.
    15 sure, swarbrick looked into the cameras on und.com and stated that kelly was the 1st and only person with whom he had spoken or offerred the notre dame job to.
    16.intentionally misleading, along with the rest of the kelly media spin from the usual suspects at the south bend tribune and various so called notre dame fan sites that make millions from recycling football coaces at notre dame.
    17.purcell and swarbrick and jenkins and kelly have stabbed charlie weis and his staff and notre dame’s student athletes and the university of notre dame in the backs and spent millions of other people’s money.
    18 we already know what we are doing in the civil courts.
    19.inthe meantime, we certainly hope that the notre dame community does the right things before we get to that stage.
    20. kelly could not buy the officials at the sugar bowl game at whicn florida will expose kelly as the snake oil salesman that he always has been.
    21.kelly needed to get right on with recruiting at notre dame? we already know what recruits and their families and high school coaches will think when they watch florida massacre cincinnati at the sugar bowl.we also know that they no longer trust notre dame.
    22. by the way, kelly really needs to shed quite a few pounds. we are certain that he will drop a great deal of weight when he gets served with our civil rico lawsuit and that we will take all oif his material possesions and relieve the university of notre dame of all contractual obligations to kelly and his staff.
    23. no, we do not believe in class actions( we were against using that approach in the enron and mci worldcom civil rico actions and those who failed to listen to us are now convinced that we were correct).
    24. we take out the bad guys one at a time in many separate lawsuits all over the us with only ourselves as plaintiffs( including causes of action and judgments, which we purchase from 3rd party victims, such as kelly’s former student athletes at cincinnati and elsewhere).
    25. we do not have to pay any trial attorneys since we could not find anyone better than ourselves in these types of projects.after all, we invented all of the key technology used in these projects.
    26. every one of us is extremely well financed, both from other huge civil litigations wins and from numerous very succesful businesses in many diverse areas of business, especially in the high tech areas, which we own and have run by honest, trustworthy, people, thereby minimizing the demands on our time.
    27. our techies have invented some great and perfectly legal spyware for us and tailored the software to each of our companies sothat alarms go off in our quality control division if anything does go wrong and our qualty control people take care of the problems.
    GO IRISH!!!

  4. robertg - Dec 14, 2009 at 9:59 AM

    1.for anyone who checks the cincinnati roster online and checks rivals or scout, he or he will find another familiar name on the cincinnati roster, a wr by the name of vidal hazelton, the no 1 ranked wr in the 2007 recruiting cycle.
    2. a fine athlete, but one with such severe character and academic faults that charlie and his staff could not even consider him for notre dame.
    3. vidal’s father desperstely worked to keepp his son away from pete carroll’s crooked usc football program and steer him to joe paterno at penn state.
    4. vidal fell for petey’s snake oil pitch, but got fed up after one year and ended up with all sorts of promises from kelly at cincinnati, including the pitch the kelly would make him great.
    5. vidal had to sit out the 2009 season and is exactly the type of guy that kelly wants to bring to notre dame.
    6. unless kelly has forged major changes in notre dame’s academic and character standards, vidal will not be accepted at notre dame and is just one more example of kelly making promises he never intended to keep.
    7. kelly does not develop football players and, based on kelly’s own academic and character backgrounds, could care lees about academic standards and character standards.
    8. without hesitation, kelly uses his full time football players to advance his own personal objectives.
    9. the academic success rate at cincinnati- around 70%( as opposed to the no 1 ranking in the academic success are achieved by charlie and his staff and notre dame’s 2009 student athletes who also play football, with plenty of dumbed own or phony academic options at cincinnati for full time football players.
    10. when kelly had some of his central michigan players arrested for violent felonies, kelly’s comment was “they are just black kids from ghetto backgrounds. leave them alone.”
    11. to this kelly, purcell and swarbrick and jenkins and others have delivered notre dame’s football program and notre dame’s
    student athletes.
    12. anyone can verify the accuracy of these facts.
    GO IRISH!!!

  5. StephenOfTroy - Dec 15, 2009 at 11:58 AM

    Robert, I don’t mind your gibberish about Vidal Hazelton.
    But you put quotation marks around a very troubling statement you attributed to Coach Kelly: “they are just black kids from ghetto backgrounds. leave them alone.”
    You should provide a link for that statement. Otherwise my view of YOUR character will plummet. And I didn’t think I could think any less of you. Of course, I hadn’t considered your entertainment value. If it turns out that you have no link to that statement, even with your alleged proprietary legal spyware, then I’m afraid your entire credibility is up for grabs. And that’s a shame. Because I just KNOW that this entire blog-reading community is on pins and needles waiting for you to “cut out the cancers” at ND if and only if ND’s fine business and law schools do not heed your warning and do it themselves (and the sooner, the better! way to avoid painting yourself into a corner there, doofus!)
    You’ve been making threats online for years. But your recent lashings-out at Swarbrick, Jenkins and Kelly are more disturbing. Even Keith Arnold, your patron, tried to get you to cool it. Come on, man. Don’t put quotes around your gibberish without linking to it.

  6. Jake - Dec 15, 2009 at 4:49 PM

    Stephen:
    Your absolutely right about his threats and rambling dissertation’s going on for years. To make it worse it’s the same stuff repeated over and over with the only change being fill in the name of the party to be sued.
    “We will bring down economic thunder on the asshats”. 9/19/07, Haloscan.com.
    “We (there’s that “we” again) are ready to shove those solutions down the throats of the conferences and the NCAA well before the 2009 season ever begins”
    The preceding from an 18 point diatribe on the UHND site signed Robert Thomas Patrick Gilleran 11/28/08.
    I like the addition of “Patrick” don’t you? Got that Irish thing going on.
    It reminds me of the movie “The Shinning” where Jack Nickelson is typing “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” over and over again.
    It’s the same old re-cycled garbage that makes Robertg a really dull boy.

  7. JF Kenny - Dec 16, 2009 at 9:59 AM

    Kelly’s first order of business is to get rid of the useless Ron Paulus on the coching staff.

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