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Kelly begins fourth season on steady ground

Aug 2, 2013, 3:20 PM EDT

Brian Kelly 2013 signing day

After three seasons as the head coach of Notre Dame, Brian Kelly feels confident. And that’s not just the confidence that comes from your average, everybody-is-still-undefeated media day banter, but rather the belief of a head coach that’s followed a blue print and seen the corresponding results.

Comfortably in the rearview mirror is an undefeated regular season. Also behind him are the speed bumps that followed — a trouncing in the BCS Championship game, the uncertainty that came with an NFL job interview, the Manti Te’o catfish debacle, and the unexpected loss of starting quarterback Everett Golson.

“It was in the rearview mirror the next day,” Kelly said, when addressing setbacks during his opening press conference for the ’13 season. “We don’t even think about it, don’t even talk about it. It’s history.”

In season’s past, those landmines would have been enough to derail a team before they ran out of the tunnel. But on Friday afternoon, Kelly’s confidence showed the changes that he’s instilled in the Notre Dame football program, rebuilt brick by brick.

“We’ve developed an environment, people call it culture, workplace mentality, there’s a lot of ways to spin it,” Kelly said. “Our kids believe in what we do and how we do it. There’s a way of doing things here. So that never goes away. And that has permeated this football program, and the way we do things on a day to day basis.”

That’s not to say that Kelly believes that his program has completely arrived. But the goal of every season moving forward was stated plainly for all eyes to see, with game No. 13 on the team’s schedule set for January 7, 2014: The BCS Championship Game.

Training camp now offers the head coach and his assistants a chance to evaluate the offseason work of his players, orchestrated by strength coach Paul Longo. That means getting a look at a stacked running back depth chart and a battle at safety that could be three or four deep.

With a announced contract extension “imminent,” and a coaching staff that returns in tact, the work to improve may never be done. But for the first time in a long while, the bedrock of a winning program is apparent in South Bend.

“We’ve worked hard to put ourselves in a position to be back in the national spotlight,” Kelly said. “We have no intention of giving that up.”

  1. NotreDan - Aug 2, 2013 at 3:22 PM

    BK is the man.

    GO IRISH!!

  2. domer77blowsgoats - Aug 2, 2013 at 3:31 PM

    nude is the man.

    GO IRISH!!

    • ndfansince69 - Aug 2, 2013 at 3:46 PM

      Nude BK is the Man!!! :-)

      GO IRISH!!!

  3. italianirish - Aug 2, 2013 at 3:38 PM

    Serious question: If at the end of this year we go to a bowl game and are assigned to play the 2012 Fighting Irish, who wins?

    I’m putting my money on the 2013 squad.

    • andy44teg - Aug 2, 2013 at 3:52 PM

      Hmmm…interesting question. I’d rather answer that in the first part of Nov. but since there’s not much else to talk about…other than who’s better: Rees or Montana….I’d say with our defense in ’13 being one year older and I think, much more athletic with the additions of Grace, Jaylon, Redfield, and having a secondary not learning on the fly, it would keep Golson’s game rather pedestrian, and the ’13 squad defeats the ’12 squad 24-17.

    • bernhtp - Aug 2, 2013 at 7:18 PM

      I think they’re roughly equivalent, but Lennay edges last year’s team ahead.

  4. jerseyshorendfan1 - Aug 2, 2013 at 3:47 PM

    This is the dawning of the age of relevance for ND football (again). Will we one day talk about Brian Kelly in the same way that we remember Ara, Lou and Knute? Well, he didn’t get his championship in year 3 but I hope that he builds his legacy, gets his championship(s) and his bronze statue. It was reassuring to hear him talk about being under contract with ND for years to come. He has definitely brought the team to that next level and made the Weis years a distant memory (3-9 anyone? Remember those days?) With a little more work to do, the sky is the limit. I remember thinking about Weis that he just didn’t “get it” and didn’t know how to motivate a college kid in order to get the best out of him. I think that Kelly clearly understands the demands of the job right down to the little things and relates to his players in a way that they will play for him. Any doubters who initially thought that he couldn’t recruit in the big leagues have long been silenced. When he builds a solid offense around Rees and has a BCS qualifying season, I suspect those remaining doubters will all but disappear. I, for one, am hoping that you have a stellar 2013 season coach.

    • c4evr - Aug 4, 2013 at 5:36 PM

      Before you mention Kelly in the same sentence as Lou, you might want to take a look at their youtube clips of their respective first speeches after being hired as ND’s coach. Lou, grateful and deferential, has resolve while Kelly, brash and cocky, looks like a giddy teenager making promises about points his team will score. A promise yet to be realized mind you… so I’d hold off on that statue of BK until all the results are in. Lou is responsible for the last 2 championships for ND – That’s right, the last 2. He loved Notre Dame so much that he had his Razorbacks annihilate the #2 Oklahoma Sooners in ’78 enabling ND to jump 5 spots to #1. Until Kelly can claim anything close, kindly recognize the gaping chasm that currently separates the 2 of them.

      • ndfaithful - Aug 4, 2013 at 9:32 PM

        It’s good to see that C4sht’s wet blanket is in mid-season form.

      • c4evr - Aug 5, 2013 at 10:15 AM

        Oh yes faithful, I’m back and ready to justify all your needs and desires to respond to reason and logic with all of your double talk and clap trap. I hope you are prepared yet again to concede that your rose colored glasses are in deed Kelly green when the team sits at 3-3 by mid-season.

  5. oleolehey - Aug 2, 2013 at 4:35 PM

    Don’t forget Frank Leahy’s titles.

    • jerseyshorendfan1 - Aug 2, 2013 at 6:09 PM

      Oops, I knew I’d forget somebody.

      • wisner74 - Aug 3, 2013 at 5:19 PM

        Dan Devine also got a title, and I’ve always thought he has never gotten the respect that he deserves. Not a real warm or engaging personality, but an excellent coach.

  6. ndadvocate - Aug 2, 2013 at 5:28 PM

    Extend his contract! Pay his assistants!

    • jmset3 - Aug 2, 2013 at 6:23 PM

      His assistants did get a raise.

  7. yaketyyacc - Aug 2, 2013 at 6:47 PM

    not looking back, coach Kelly… Churchill once said, “The farther back we look, the further ahead we can see.” to ignore the mistakes of the past is to insure the failure of the future.
    if it was a mistake to start Rees in the past, and the FACT that you had to go to the “untested” Golson to go 12-1, then you have not leaned the lesson, and by ignoring the past, you are insuring the failure of the future.
    you are telling us to board the Titanic, because the Captain is experienced, but the past showed the ran his Olympia into the battleship Hawke. and that he was more known for his “social” skills, the “millionaires captain” then captaining a ship.
    so Rees is experienced, huh? well, who is going to listen to a third mate, criticizing the choice of quarterback.

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Aug 2, 2013 at 11:26 PM

      unfortunately, Churchill was speaking about something far more important than a 19 year old QB…but I live in a house with three girls and a wife…i’m used to unneccesary drama.

      BTW, Churchill also said “Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.”

      Can we all agree that TR defines continuous effort?

      Furthermore, Churchill also unknowingly made reference to your hatred for TR when he said….”A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject”

      • papadec - Aug 8, 2013 at 11:00 PM

        three girls & a wife – you poor……….. It could be worse – it could be one teenage daughter & three wives.

  8. fnc111 - Aug 2, 2013 at 8:42 PM

    Tommy landed on the moon!

    • wisner74 - Aug 3, 2013 at 5:11 PM

      I don’t think fnc gets it right very often, but this one was funny.

  9. fnc111 - Aug 2, 2013 at 9:00 PM

    Hopefully ND wins against OU this year but I want OU you to look good and play well. When Kelly ditches ND in the next 9-18 months I think getting Bob Stoops as the next ND HC is the way to keep this ship running smoothly.

  10. FreQaZoiD - Aug 3, 2013 at 12:24 AM

    Keith, hate to break it to you. If ND shows up on Jan. 7, 2014 in Pasadena, we’ll be a day late – looking eerily similar to the 2013 version.

  11. irishfaithful666 - Aug 3, 2013 at 1:34 AM

    Lurker for a year now,made an account because I just realized this. I’m excited to see Tommy Rees against Temple. Coach Kelly has come leaps and bounds since his first year. If I remember correctly he spent his first year yelling, cussing, and red faced at Crist then Rees. His coaching style is so much different now. I believe he is much more calm and knows Tommy now. At this level, he can get the best out of him. Both are more mature and Tommy’s 14-4 record as a starter is respectable. Now that the system is in place, Rees knows the playbook, and a strong running in game can be expected, not to mention the D, I can safely say this is a good team! I think it’s time to hitch a ride on Coach Kelly and let’s have some fun! 9-3 seems safe and 10-2 if everything goes as expected. I really hope we are experiencing a new era as ND fans. Thanks for the great posts guys!

  12. yaketyyacc - Aug 3, 2013 at 5:37 PM

    some say you will go far, some say you’ve gone too far. putting the BCS title game as part of Notre Dame’s schedule doesn’t come off as an incentive catalyst for the football team.
    but it sure is an incentive for our opponents, who by now, have plastered it in every dressing room.
    Hey, look, Notre Dame thinks we are just stepping stones.
    going be an interesting season. and starting off with the wrong quarterback, just adds to the interest.

    still, we’ll be there…

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