If you’re a Notre Dame fan, you had to worry about the transition from Charlie Weis to Brian Kelly. Weis was a renowned recruiter, had built very good allegiances to the recruits he had already secured, and was a big reason why most of the Irish’s commits had decided to attend school in South Bend.
As I stated many times, my biggest worries about removing Weis as head coach revolved around Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate leaving, Chris Martin decommitting, and bringing an offensive coach into the fold without a proven defensive strategy. Sure enough, all those things happened within days of Weis being forced out.
But instead of having the program fall into disarray, Rob Ianello and the assistant coaches did a more than admirable job keeping the wheels on the bus, and running back coach Tony Alford even pulled blue-chip defensive tackle Louis Nix into the fold during the chaotic transitional time where Notre Dame was without a head coach.
(If that doesn’t earn you a job with the next head coach, I’m not sure what does…)
Even though Kelly hasn’t named a coaching staff yet, the first few days have been full of welcome surprises. While even a curmudgeon with zero personality could score points with a Notre Dame fan-base starved for good news right now, the transitional period has been handled as smoothly as anyone could have hoped.
And from a state of the program perspective, even though the three things I feared — JC and Golden leaving, Martin bolting — happened, Kelly’s confident and calm manner of handling things, along with the proactive work with recruits, has been impressive.
Kelly’s most recent update on Twitter has many fans confident that the man in charge is in complete control:
“Been underground putting a staff together and protecting our recruiting assets. Happy for Butch Jones and family…”
This type of update is the exact thing that Irish faithful want to hear. Protecting recruiting assets, going underground. The new Notre Dame head coach sounds one part offensive mastermind, one part Jack Bauer.
Another smart touch is Kelly’s decision to follow and “retweet” posts from popular Notre Dame personalities — people like sideline reporter Alex Flanigan, Dick Vitale, and basketball coach Mike Brey, as well as beat reporters like Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune and Eric Hansen of the South Bend Tribune. He’s even followed bloggers like Blue-Gray Sky and EDSBS. (If that doesn’t get you street cred, I’m not sure what does…)
There are plenty of challenges ahead for Brian Kelly and his still to be determined staff, but if we’ve learned anything in these first few days, Kelly is a man with a plan.