Fox Sports writes that since the Associated Press began hosting its coaches’ poll in the 1930s, there has been a trend in Notre Dame coaches that have taken their team all the way to at least one national championship: they’ve either done it in their third year, and if they haven’t, they don’t stick around much longer.
Current Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly is on his way to fulfilling the superstition. In his third year at the helm of the Fighting Irish, he is well within reach of a national championship title, especially given his team’s knock-out as-yet undefeated title this season.
Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish will showdown against Alabama for the BCS title game on January 7th in Miami.
Should Kelly successfully bring his team to the title, he’ll be remembered forever alongside the likes of other great Notre Dame coaches like Leahy, Parseghian, Devine, Holtz and Knute Rockne. If he doesn’t, however, many will wonder if the chance for a title has withered away.
"I had an evaluation clause in my contact after the third year,” Kelly joked Wednesday at the BCS Championship Game coaches press conference in New York. “So I figured we needed to get it done in three years.”
Kelly has successfully bounced the Notre Dame back to the top spot in the league with their perfect season, and his previous two 8-5 records with the team. Prior to that, the reputation of the football team in South Bend had taken a hit.
While Kelly won’t admit that he saw a revival coming this quickly during his time with the Fighting Irish, he won’t deny it either. He had a healthy coaching record at his positions prior to taking on Notre Dame.
"I think it's a process that you undertake, and you don't normally have, you know, a destination date," Kelly said. "In other words, (you don't say), 'We are going to get to this point at this date.' I think you just go in and you get to work.”
Getting that perfect season record doesn’t come easily, and the Fighting Irish came close to losing it a few times during the season. However, they still managed to pull through for the impeccable 12-0 record.
"The way that we wanted to construct this football team is that if we got to a national championship, you're going to have to play physical football,” Kelly said. “There's no tricks. There's no gimmicks. It's going to be basic fundamental football when you get to this level.”
Alabama’s coach Nick Saban, who is bringing his team to its third championship in four years, sees Kelly’s progress a little differently.
“It's not just about winning a game,” Saban said. “(A coach has to) get the process right, and the process is ongoing. There's never a continuum of success, and you're always working everyday to make your organization and program better.
“They have good players, but a lot of people have good players. The way they play and the way they compete and the relentless sort of competitive attitude they have, I think that's what I admire most and think is the most difficult to get instilled in a group of young men.”
Notre Dame is no doubt prepared to head for a national title, but it all comes down to game day on January 7th.
"I've got a clear idea of what we wanted to accomplish at Notre Dame,” Kelly said. “We had a blueprint of what we felt was going to be successful for Notre Dame. We just went about it and went to work, and this is a culmination of three years of doing that job and sticking to the plan that we had from day one."