Remember January 6th, 2013? That was the last time Notre Dame fans felt joy. The Irish were ranked #1 in the nation. Brian Kelly wasn’t flirting with another team. And they had the top recruiting class.
Alex Anzalone was one of the best recruits in the 2013 class for the Fighting Irish. He was the heir-apparent to the Mike Linebacker position currently filled by Heisman Finalist Manti Te’o. On January 6th, he was only a few days away from enrolling at the University of Notre Dame. Only a few days away from getting the ball rolling on the next National Title appearance.
But, that has all changed. in 72 hours, the Fighting Irish have lost the National Title, possibly their coach and one their star Defensive recruits. As they say, ‘the hits keep on coming’.
It is unclear exactly what happened. The Brian Kelly situation does seem to have some connection to Anzalone bolting for Gainesville though. Even after the 42-14 mauling by Alabama, Anzalone seemed quite ready to enroll with the Fighting Irish. Because Anzalone was an early enrollee, he and his parents were probably worried about the uncertainty of the coaching situation in South Bend. Being familiar with the Florida program, the Anzalones opted to take the more certain route.
As for Notre Dame, fans have to wonder, ‘is this an isolated case or a trend?’ Will the Irish recruiting class fall apart because of Kelly’s flirtation with the NFL? Some big time recruits, such as Jaylon Smith, have said that they are headed to Notre Dame regardless. Many recruits select Notre Dame for the school and not the coach.
But the Brian Kelly Saga of January 2013 has claimed its second victim, Alex Anzalone. Sadly, its the fans who are the first victim. The fans will ultimately lose respect for Brian Kelly’s handling of the situation. Especially if it costs more recruits.