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Kelly narrative taking shape

Apr 10, 2010, 10:47 AM EDT

As spring practice continues, the national media takes its swing through South Bend for an update on the state of the Irish football program. With Brian Kelly now at the helm, its only natural that people compare his way of doing things to that of his predecessor, Charlie Weis.

Two of the most prominent, ESPN’s Mark Schlabach and SI’s Stewart Mandel took their turns dropping by the Golden Dome. And with Kelly’s philosophy and style drastically different from that of Weis, it’s pretty easy to see the narrative develop.

From Schlabach:

It hasn’t taken Notre Dame’s returning players long to realize life is
going to be different under Kelly, who replaced Charlie Weis as their
coach Dec. 10. Kelly has instituted several changes at Notre Dame, from
where the players eat and study to how they practice and dress. He even
wants them to arrange their lockers in a uniform way and had large
charts printed to show them how to do it.

Kelly said the changes are designed to make the Fighting Irish more of a
“team,” instead of individual players performing only for themselves
and future NFL careers.

“Most of the guys here were more interested in whether they were on Mel
Kiper’s Big Board,” Kelly said. “I want guys who are more interested in
what they can do for Notre Dame.”

“It says, ‘God, Country and Notre Dame’ outside of my office,” Kelly
said. “I think my job is to put teeth back into that. Everybody looks at
Notre Dame and assumes it’s special. Well, define that for me. I’m
still defining ‘special.’ It’s about team, team, team. I’m trying to get
it to where they understand this is about Notre Dame, your teammates,
your family and then yourself. I think they had it flipped the other
way. It started with me and Notre Dame was at the other end.”

And now Mandel:

Practice tempo is just one of a bundle of changes the Irish are
adjusting to in what Kelly called “a 180-degree turn from the way this
business was run to the way I’m running this business.” The 48-year-old
Massachusetts native still refers to himself as a “Division II coach,”
having spent 13 years as head coach at Grand Valley State prior to
winning conference championships at Central Michigan (2006) and
Cincinnati (’08 and ’09).

As he peeled back the curtain on
Weis’ regime, during which the Irish went 16-21 the past three seasons,
Kelly found what many of us on the outside had suspected all along: For
years, Notre Dame had run more like an NFL franchise than a college
program. For many, career aspirations came before championships.

“A lot of these guys signed up for Notre Dame because of the idea
that ‘Hey, we’re going to get you to the NFL,'” said Kelly. “That was a
good pitch. You had a guy that had great credibility to do that. I can’t
pitch that because I don’t have that background. Mine is, I know how to
get you to a BCS game.

“My impression, in the short amount
of time that I’ve been here, is guys were playing for themselves. The
priorities have to be Notre Dame, playing for your family, playing for
your teammates and then playing for yourself. I think that was upside
down. ‘Selfishness’ and ‘entitlement’ are two words that would be

Part of any coaching transition is to quite literally change the standard operating procedure, and if the beginning of spring practice has shown us anything, Kelly has done just that. And while it’s only natural to throw a coaching staff that was fired for lack of results under the bus, Kelly has done a good job distancing himself from that stance.

“Coach Weis’ pedigree was the NFL,” Kelly said. “It was a different way
of going about it and it was what he was exposed to. Coach Weis had the
NFL pedigree and that big ring on his finger. He coached Tom Brady and
led him to a Super Bowl, and he told kids he could do it for them, too.
That would be my pitch, too, but I haven’t done that.”

How the Weis era will be remembered will take a few years to find some context, but the departure from a pro-style system and philosophy to Kelly’s uptempo strictly collegiate approach will ultimately be judged by wins and losses.

  1. rehab 90731 - Apr 16, 2010 at 1:48 PM

    I am so sorry Mr Spelling Check….LOL…I type this rapidly, not dictated to a paid secretary, get a life troll, I told u all, I am more ND than probably all of you, for many reasons…unless one of you has two NC, not one like Holtz….Holtz is my peer, but not my superior…anyhoo, YOU AND YOUR TROLLS are welcome to like and want whatever you wish; thence it only proves ND does not belong with the rest of the cheater programs out there…I realize there are a few klean programs out there, but IMO ND should and cannot compete with dirty SEC teams right now-unless I get my way. GO IRISH

  2. rehab 90731 - Apr 17, 2010 at 6:40 PM

    I am growing very weary conversing with elitist wannabes…you guys are so stuck up thinking you and ND are so much better than everyone else…I consider myself close to ND and everything, but ya’lls views are filthy…and for what ? 15-21 makes you better than me ? LOL…if you guys are so great, then tell me why ND even plays on the same field with its opponents ? It sound like you want ND to show up on the field all alone, and win by forefeit and go 13-0…let me wake up yer echoes, ND cannot compete with U$C or the SEC teams unless ND allows 10 immensely better players on campus,,,only 10…can you manage that ? heck, I am easy, give me 8 thugs to trade for players like Chris Stewart, who is Law Grad School, but cannot block worth a darn.

  3. Markus - Apr 18, 2010 at 3:22 AM

    To put all the comments above into perspective, all seem to be concerned about whether it is a “loose” or “noose” way of life.
    I believe if you all would consider my advice, just go back and listen to Knute Rockne’s speeches, including the “Gipper” one and you will be revisiting what we should be visiting always as college bound students….”SPIRIT” and “TEAM PLAY”. Ara did that as well.
    ND sent players of these “team” eras to the professional ranks, and I believe Kelly, given the chance to plant his own discipline there, will too.
    Those incoming players should always be taught and advised that College “should” be the best 4 years of their lives.
    I love ND,as should all who venture into the other colleges of their choice.
    GO IRISH…..always!!!

  4. rehab 90731 - Apr 19, 2010 at 11:15 AM

    Ara had playas to begin with….many many many went pro and succeeded…that aint happenin enough lately Holmes…

  5. Sgt. Moon - Apr 21, 2010 at 9:44 PM

    This has nothing to do with being an elitist or having a big ego. Is there something wrong with a kid going to all of his classes and having a passing grade in those classes? I believe that you should work for what you have and nobody should be given anything because they can play football or any other sport. Because a lot of people feel that a student/athlete should go by the rules of the school you think we are elitists or snobs?
    Most of these kids will not play pro sports. They will have to go out in the real world and get real jobs. It’s great to be able to say that you went to Notre Dame or any other major college. That looks good on your resume, until you get to the part where you didn’t graduate. But “I played football at Notre Dame”, won’t help you support yourself and a family.
    Notre Dame’s 16-21 record had nothing to do with the athletes being smart and attending classes. Look at the coaching and conditioning to start with. Remember, they are called STUDENT/athletes.
    Elitist? Big ego? I don’t think so.
    Elitist? Big ego? I don’t think so.

  6. Shazamrock - Apr 22, 2010 at 8:17 AM

    If you are growing weary of conversing with us, than get lost. We didn’t invite you in the first place. In fact, We are getting a bit weary of you and your drivile as well. And take your “thugs” with you. And while you are at it, pull up your damn pants!
    ND isn’t for everyone. We want special kids who value a quality education first. Kids that go to all their classes everyday. Who stay out of trouble, and reach out to others and their community.
    If that labels ND as stuck up then so be it.
    And we never professed to be better than “EVERYONE”, just better than most. And most certainly better than you and your ideals.
    Your defination of “Elite Schools” is clearly far different than ours!

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