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.
So what’s your secret to creating a winning team?
I think winning starts with you – [but] you all have to be in it. It’s a team game first of all and it’s not just a bunch of individuals. Those that win at the highest level win as a team, and once you’re able to develop that structure of a team where people care about each other you can then go to work on all the other principles.
Until you have a team that cares about each other you have no chance of winning. When we got here, this was not a team. This was a collection of individuals that played at Notre Dame, and that’s what we’re changing and it’s coming together pretty good.
You seem deeply aware of the Notre Dame history and its mystique.
Yes. As a football program, we’re getting back to our traditional roots. It should be fun. We’re going to unveil the green jerseys for that game too, (against Army in New York on November 20th) the green is recognizable in certain parts of the country. Green does not work very well here, but in New York green is a good thing. We’re going to be using that helmet right there with a shamrock on it, next year when we play the University of Michigan. We’re going to be using throwback uniforms. We’re going to play the first ever night game at the University of Michigan.
It goes deep. I didn’t know all the history until I read about four of the books, and learned a lot about Notre Dame and how Notre Dame was perceived. It is an incredible history and imparts a great sense of mission. It is just great to be here.
Thank you, Coach Kelly.