The legend of Brian Kelly takes off as Notre Dame stand on edge of history
The march to the BCS bowl all began with victory over Navy on Irish soil
It began on a September Saturday in a Dublin rugby stadium – now the Brian Kelly legend is blossoming as Notre Dame rewrite the history books under their influential coach.
A season that opened with a win against Navy on Irish soil is taking on a whole new dimension for the famous college.
And who could have predicted the manner in which the Kelly legend would grow on that transatlantic visit to Ireland two months ago.
A glowing report in the Chicago Tribune states that familiarity with a coach’s demands could have bred contempt; for Irish it shaped mutual admiration society.
Writer Brian Hamilton recalls how a visit to an open training session in 2010 saw him witness Kelly shouting and cajoling his players.
Now, he says, Kelly may shout from time to time but a new Mr Nice Guy approach has inspired Notre Dame to an 11-0 season, one triumph short of a national championship game bid.
Hamilton outlines how Kelly dines with his players, how his door is always open, how the lines of communication are available 24-7.
This is the coach who insists the playbook occupy a specific spot in each locker. Hamilton suggests: “Maybe he’s nicer because he’s nicer. Maybe he’s nicer because the Irish mess up less. But a No. 1 ranking seems to be proof positive works.”
Linebacker Manti Te’o told the Tribune: “He just seems more relaxed. He seems more comfortable. He doesn’t have to test us anymore. He knows what we can do. He knows how we’re going to play, and he knows we’re going to give everything we have.
“He doesn’t have to do double practices in the fall to know how much heart this team has. He knows how much we have. He knows that we care about him, that we’ll do anything for him. He has found comfort with that, that confidence in his team.”
Hamilton reports: “With a victory Saturday night at USC, Kelly enters into the rarefied Year 3 air certain Notre Dame coaches occupy: Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian, Dan Devine and Lou Holtz all won a first national title in their respective third seasons, and Kelly would get his chance to match that.
“It can be theorized that 11 victories would make any coach bubbly. But Kelly assumed, publicly, a painstakingly reserved posture since the preseason. That means he had contrived his approach before the first kickoff. That means he knew his players knew what he wanted. That means he knew this season screamed only for positive reinforcement.”
Kelly himself said: “I’ve let my coaches coach, and I’ve tried to spend more time with our players on a day-to-day basis.
“I think it was needed and necessary in our third year. The first couple of years I had to set a bar and a standard and an operation of the way we wanted things done on a day-to-day basis.
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