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Kelly feels the ugly side of change

Dec 13, 2009, 2:07 PM EDT

While it’s not exactly a surprise, Brian Kelly’s decision to leave the Cincinnati Bearcats hasn’t gone over too well with the locals.

On Friday, I went on the radio with Bill Cunningham, the most listened to radio personality in the tri-state area. (So says his website.) He didn’t exactly have nice things to say about Brian Kelly, and the conversation with Willie was pretty entertaining.

Kelly’s former players haven’t been all that happy with their coach either, with Mardy Gilyard leading the way in critizing the way Kelly handled the situation.

“No, he wasn’t talking to anybody. It
was a little Hollywood deal. He came in; it was like a scene from a
movie when he got in here. Everybody knew what was going on. He never
had any security like that before. I mean he already won Coach of the
Year before, so all that security wasn’t necessary. I think he was
worried about what was going to go on with the city and the fans if
anything. People just want honesty; we just want him to be straight up
with us. If you’re going to leave, then leave. I feel like he had this
in his head that he was going to leave for awhile now. Everybody knows
the situation now. It’s human nature that you’re going to take more
money, it is what it is, a business decision.”

I’ve got no problem with Gilyard’s comments. Even his more inflammatory
comments earlier in the week were said out of emotion, and it’s far
better than the usual political correctness we get used to hearing from
college kids who have become so media savvy that we forget they are 18 to
22 year-old kids.

Yet Kelly’s handling by the locals hasn’t let up. According to Kelly’s very own Twitter page, he didn’t return home to a warm welcome.

Spent most of the
morning on the phone with recruits. House got egged last night and the
sign on the lawn wasn’t a FOR SALE sign.

After the dust settles, I hope Bearcats fans can appreciate what Kelly did for the program. While many are crying foul for Kelly leaving before the bowl game, it’s the ugly reality of hiring coaches in college football. The argument would probably hold a bit more water if Cincinnati didn’t do the exact same thing to Central Michigan when they hired Kelly away from them.

  1. Ryan - Dec 13, 2009 at 4:40 PM

    Is that guy serious? Kelly left for a better job, get the hell over it. I can’t fathom my life being that pathetic that I go out and try and file a lawsuit against someone because they left my team. If you lose your religuous faith because your favorite team’s Catholic coach left, you have greater problems to worry about. Keith, i don’t know how you put up with that clown spewing steamy bitterness for 10 minutes.

  2. Fischer - Dec 13, 2009 at 4:53 PM

    Nice interview Keith, that guy is a TRIP.

  3. Wharton70 - Dec 13, 2009 at 4:59 PM

    Thank you. Spot on, I have been waiting for someone to point out the obvious:”The argument would probably hold a bit more water if Cincinnati didn’t do the exact same thing to Central Michigan when they hired Kelly away from them.”
    Your perception is welcomed and refreshing.

  4. NDDC - Dec 13, 2009 at 9:10 PM

    To compare this to your post below, Keith, Urban Meyer did the same thing to Utah when he left for Florida. Urban did not coach the 2005 Fiesta Bowl. His assistant and current Utah coach, Kyle Whittingham coached that game after Meyer had already left for Florida. Its part of college football and the Cinci fans need to get over it. They have to have a little confidence that Brian Kelly was not the only reason that their team was good. Although if they lay an egg against Florida then we Irish fans can be confident that Brian Kelly may be as good a coach as we expect.

  5. kejji - Dec 13, 2009 at 9:10 PM

    I think most are missing the point…they are upset, not primarily because he was leaving before the bowl game..they are upset because he looked them all in the eye the day before and said he wasn’t leaving. Gilyard said as much in his comment: “People just want honesty; we just want him to be straight up with us. If you’re going to leave, then leave.”

  6. mef811 - Dec 13, 2009 at 9:41 PM

    Exactly “if your gonna leave then leave” that’s what he said the day before the announcement, so for him to say he was lied to.. why would he have the obvious thought that he was going to leave, It’s all semantics in my opinion. people hate that we have a coach that might take us somewhere!!

  7. StephenOfTroy - Dec 13, 2009 at 10:46 PM

    Mike Ford, I don’t think you understood Kejji’s comment.
    People hate that you have a coach who lied to his players. He went out of his way to lie to them. He did it just so that his last few days wouldn’t be as awkward. If he was any kind of man he would have told the truth. If he was less of a weasel, but still not a man, he would have remained silent.
    Most people really don’t care that you have a coach who won’t be coaching his (now former) team in the bowl game. The issue is not that he’s gone. It’s the way he left.

  8. Zach - Dec 14, 2009 at 12:33 PM

    I never saw any quote that Kelly ever said he wasn’t leaving. He said before and after the pitt game that him leaving was irrelevant to the game, but he never told those players he wasn’t leaving… Seriously 2 days before leaving, he posted on his twitter page that he would talk with ND. Fans are just bitter about this… They act like little kids because dad won’t take them to the park like he promised!!!

  9. Teo - Dec 14, 2009 at 3:31 PM

    The argument would probably hold a bit more water if coaches all over the country didn’t do the very same thing. Did Utah want to lose Meyer? Did Michigan State want to lose Saban? Did Navy want to lose Johnson?
    Seriously, what do people think? Is Brian Kelly going to stay at Cincinnati and turn down several hundred thousand dollars and his opportunity to coach Notre Dame, a job he acknowledged is a dream job?
    The football coaches association should do more to prepare college coaches during this time of change. For one thing, Kelly could have coached Cinci against Florida. The Cinci kids may have thought differently of the transaction. But, Cinci didn’t want this. But there is no way a coach is going to come out and say, “I would love to be interviewed for the Notre Dame job,” during the season. No way. Be realistic.

  10. NDFAN401 - Dec 14, 2009 at 5:35 PM

    Zach – We have been discussing this for awhile now and he most certainly did tell his players he was not leaving. That in of itself is the problem, he could have done what SOT said and told them nothing or he could have told them the truth that he was leaving for ND. The problem is that when your told something by someone you trust you tend to believe it. He should have just been upfront with them from the very beginning. The fans, players and Alumni at Cincinnati are bitter because a man that they trusted decided to betray that trust by lying to them, not because he did not honor his commitments.

  11. StephenOfTroy - Dec 14, 2009 at 5:53 PM

    I agree (as usual) with NDFAN401.
    Zach, I’ll tell you the same thing I tell Robert T. Gilleran: you’re entitled to your own opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts. Kelly told his players he wasn’t going anywhere.

  12. zach - Dec 14, 2009 at 6:50 PM

    Do you know where I can find a story on what he told his players prior to the banquet when it became official?

  13. irishfanintx - Dec 14, 2009 at 8:15 PM

    Zach, I am right there with you. I too have never seen a quote attributed to Kelly saying that he wasn’t leaving. Before and after the Pitt game he redirected all questions about the ND job. There are a lot of Cincinnati players upset that Kelly is leaving, Guidugli, Daniels, and Gilyard to name a few but there are also players that understand (Collaros,Revels). I know that in interviews with Gilyard he says that Kelly told him he was staying but I have not seen any other quotes from players to indicate that he told the team he wasn’t leaving. If anyone knows where to find interviews, stories, etc. that indicate he did tell the team please let me know where to find them.

  14. TLNDMA - Dec 14, 2009 at 9:04 PM

    Zach,let me help ya catch up here. Don’t know if there is a quote from Kelly, but his players said, he said it before the Pitt game. After the Pitt game Kelly volunteered that he would listen to ND. Seems to some of us, that the game was the issue, in that Kelly didn’t want his leaving to be a distraction. Seeing there is no other logical reason for him to be afraid to tell his players the truth(is there Steve?), some feel it’s not a big deal at all that he hid the truth from his players, for three days. Especially as no harm came to any of them. Well maybe their feelings were hurt. Others feel that he should be damned to the fires of hell.

  15. mrrandolph - Dec 15, 2009 at 7:48 AM

    To compare this to your post below, Keith, Urban Meyer did the same thing to Utah when he left for Florida.
    Urban Meyer did coach Utah in the Fiesta Bowl against Pitt after being named the new HC at Florida. One reason being the kids, Urban, and Utah’s administration wanted it. Also, since recruits can’t be contacted after the 19th of December and Florida was retaining Charlie Strong as DC, why not?

  16. StephenOfTroy - Dec 15, 2009 at 10:40 AM

    Zach and irishfanintx: I don’t know if maybe your Google is broken. There are reports all over the web about what Kelly told his players.
    Here’s just one:
    (From the linked article)
    PITTSBURGH — Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly refused to answer any questions about his possible interest in the Notre Dame coaching vacancy after his team beat Pittsburgh 45-44 Saturday afternoon.
    But two Bearcats players said Kelly told the team on Thursday that he wouldn’t leave Cincinnati.
    “He said, ‘It’s not an issue; I’m not going there,’ ” safety Aaron Webster said. “He said, ‘I love Cincinnati, and I’m staying here.’ ”
    When asked by an reporter after the game whether he had indeed told his players that, Kelly declined to discuss the issue. That also was his stance in the postgame news conference.
    “I’m not going to talk about any job situations,” said Kelly, whose team clinched its second straight Big East title. “I’m going to enjoy this victory.
    “Let’s talk about back-to-back-championship teams and these kids.”
    Kelly also chided the media for spreading what he called “misinformation” and added, “You folks need to get a handle on this, because it’s ridiculous.”
    Kelly has been rumored to be one of Notre Dame’s top candidates and told the ESPN this week that he would “entertain” a request from the Irish to speak to him after the Pitt game.
    Wide receiver Mardy Gilyard said his coach was emphatic about not leaving in his talk to the team Thursday.
    “He said, ‘All this foolishness about me trying to go somewhere, that’s just foolish,’ ” Gilyard said. “Coach Kelly, he made us strongly feel [he wasn’t leaving]. It’s almost like when your mom tells you the sky is blue, and you just know it’s blue. You don’t even have to look outside.
    “With Coach Kelly telling us he’s not leaving, we know he’s not going anywhere.”
    (The article continues but I think that’s pretty much the end of the “did he really lie to his players” dodge you two are trying to play.)

  17. StephenOfTroy - Dec 15, 2009 at 10:47 AM

    Oh wait. I just have to give Zach and irishfanintx (and TLNDMA!) the rest of that ESPN article, because the quote from Gilyard is so priceless:
    “Gilyard and Webster, both seniors, have heard that before. Former coach Mark Dantonio told them he wasn’t leaving three years ago — and then took the Michigan State job days later.
    ‘There were different incentives then with Coach Dantonio,’ Gilyard said. ‘Coach Kelly always shoots it straight to us. In my opinion, I think he’ll end up being the Bobby Bowden of Cincinnati, or our new Bob Huggins.'”
    Coach Kelly always shoots it straight to us, indeed. Right between the eyes. It takes a special kind of person to lie to a room full of people 20-some-odd years younger than you. “It’s almost like when your mom tells you the sky is blue” and then you look outside and see that it’s raining.
    As Todd Flanders said on The Simpsons, “lies make baby Jesus cry.”

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