Many rank Notre Dame head coach as the toughest job in all of football, and certainly incumbent coach Brian Kelly is feeling the pressure from the ever impatient Fighting Irish fans after a disastrous 2 and 5 start to this season.
Saturday's loss to Stanford, 17-10 – again by just one score, will fall hard on Kelly and embolden the fans who oppose him. Replacing starting quarterback DeShone Kizer with Malik Zaire midway through the second half was a disastrous move that merely shook Kizer’s confidence.
Brian Kelly asked how DeShone Kizer can improve. Answer includes “play calling can be better"— Irish Illustrated (@PeteSampson_) October 16, 2016
There may not be even a bowl game in Notre Dame’s future this year, a far cry from recent years when they were competitive for the BCS playoffs almost every year.
Certainly, based on their dreadful displays in their last two games, they don’t deserve a bowl game. Stanford was eminently beatable this year having conceded 86 points in their last two games and North Carolina State was the kind of team Notre Dame would normally beat in their sleep.
Instead, they lost 10-3 in hurricane conditions against NC State in a game that saw Kelly make several head-scratching decisions, including failing to run the ball when throwing it in hurricane conditions was clearly almost impossible.
Stanford rallies to beat Notre Dame as Jimmy Clausen takes aim at Brian Kelly https://t.co/QfmGDbdTET— CollegeFootballTalk (@CFTalk) October 16, 2016
Brian Kelly was a miracle man when he rescued Notre Dame from the clutches of failed coach Charlie Weiss and delivered them to a national championship game against Alabama in his third season in 2012.
After a series of mediocre coaches, Kelly seemed to be the great white hope and, while Alabama hammered them, it seemed a few more Kelly recruiting classes would make all the difference.
But, alas, based on this year’s disastrous results, critics claim Kelly may have passed his sell-by-date with the team.
Kelly said the team is not lacking energy or desire to play for Notre Dame: "I’ve got a good pulse of my football team.”— BlueandGold.com (@BGInews) October 16, 2016
That is what makes college football such a tough business for coaches and fans alike. You are depending on 18-21 year-olds, young men at the time of life when wayward actions and thoughts are at their peak.
Kelly seemed to have an extraordinary handle on the players' fragile psyches, but this year he has been unable to work his magic.
It happens, but when it occurs at Notre Dame the vultures begin to circle almost instantly.
Witness the fact that the Chicago Tribune has led the chorus calling for his resignation saying he had lost his fan base, and “there's word from sources who know several players that, citing Kelly's uneven leadership style, he has lost the team.” the paper wrote.
The pressure may be telling on Kelly. He got into an altercation with a Stanford coach who sneered “bye bye” as he was passing him after Saturday's defeat. He’s better than that.
But it would be premature to write his obituary just yet. For years under Kelly the team has won tight games, sometimes miraculously. The opposite has happened this year but given his stellar overall record and making Notre Dame a contender again he deserves to stay. As Donald Trump might say, he can make Notre Dame great again.
Crossing The Lines: Brian Kelly hasn't lost the team. And that's about all there is to hold onto for Notre Dame now https://t.co/AHvcuRX4Us— Irish Illustrated (@PeteSampson_) October 16, 2016