Kelly Green at Notre Dame
Coach Brian Kelly talks to Niall O'Dowd about coaching, his plans for Notre Dame and his Irish heritage.
How do you cope with the stress?
There’s a lot of stress. I’ve worked hard to take care of myself and getting fit and getting check-ups and all those things because I worked 20 years to get here, I don’t want to have a heart attack while I’m here, you know? I think that’s absolutely a concern and I’m taking it seriously.
Do you get time off at all?
No. This is my time off [doing the interview with Irish America]. You guys get to spend it with me. How lucky are you? No, you get a couple hours here and there. I’ll have dinner with the family tonight – you just pick your spots and when you get a couple of hours, make it quality time.
The painting hanging on your wall with the faceless workers is very striking.
You can see they’re Irish…I look at that [and I see] the Irish immigrants who came over and lost their lives and dug the canals. When I first saw it I said, “I’ve got to have that picture.” It also is about where we want to bring our football team – back to its Fighting Irish roots. Back to faceless and nameless. It’s not about superstars but about a team, about trust and commitment and all the things I was taught growing up from my family, from my Irish Catholic roots, and we’re trying to bring Notre Dame back to that, and that’s kind of the full circle here.
That’s the job and the process. When you’ve been in it and it’s ingrained in you and you know where you want to go with it, you don’t get derailed too easily.
You seem very strong in yourself; you’re not worried what people think.
There’s going to be plenty of opinions. There’s never a shortage of opinions in this business. That’s the great thing about Notre Dame. As long as you understand that, and this is where my background helps me, when I was at University of Cincinnati, nobody cared enough. Here people care too much. It allows me to keep perspective on it, as well, and I know what we want to do. I know what our plan is, and they’ll all be on the bandwagon sooner or later, so I just always reserve room for them.
Anything else surprise you here?
There are some things at Notre Dame you have to get used to and one of them is TV time-outs. We have to pay the bills, so to speak. It’s hard to keep flow and momentum. It is choppy and I’m working through that right now. I think I’d like to get our players to see their head coach is involved in the game and he’s not just walking up and down the sidelines but he’s invested in it. The coaches that I played for were like that and I enjoyed that.
Now, there’s this line that you can’t cross, but I’ve always felt that that’s the way I’ve played the game and that’s the way I’m going to coach the game.
How do you feel about the game in Ireland – Notre Dame against Navy in 2012?
I can’t wait. I’m so excited. Just can’t tell you how, for me, to go to Ireland to take an American football team to Ireland, how special that’s going to be.
Three years ago, I spent two weeks up and down the West Coast. We golfed, enjoyed all the great courses and all the lively conversation in the pubs. It’s always good to go into a pub and start a conversation about politics. You’re either going to get somebody to buy you one or you’re going to have to leave. [Laughs].
What was it like to go back to Boston – against Boston College?
For me, we just needed to win the game. My family loved it. They had 100 people tailgating. Cousins, aunts, uncles, cousins I didn’t know, wanted tickets too. Everybody was my cousin that weekend. I know they had a heck of a time and really enjoyed it, but I’ve been back there twice to play.
When I was at Grand Valley State we went and played Bentley College which is just outside of Boston and beat ’em pretty good, and then came back and beat BC, so I’m doing pretty good in Boston right now.
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