Notre Dame Football: Enjoy Brian Kelly While He is at Notre Dame


During this week’s Irish Sports Daily Power Hour, host Mike Frank read a listener question that said, “How much longer do you give Brian Kelly to turn the program around?” This is why Notre Dame coaches age like the President of the United States.

By “turn the program around”, what did the listener mean? The only thing Brian Kelly has failed to do at Notre Dame is win a National Title.

Kelly lead the Irish to an undefeated season and birth in the National Title game in 2012. He is winningest coach (.709) since Notre Dame’s last great coach (Lou Holtz).

The three seasons prior to Brian Kelly coming to South Bend, Notre Dame finished the season 3-9, 7-6 and 6-6. How quickly perceptions change, right?

In over 100 seasons of Notre Dame Football, the Fighting Irish complied a .733 winning percentage. Brian Kelly is nipping at the heels of that total with his .709 percentage.

Before this season began, Notre Dame fans believe the Fighting Irish were at best a 10-2 football team. But, more likely, the Irish were anywhere from 7-5 to 9-3. The way Notre Dame began this season got the Notre Dame faithful excited with visions of playing in the first College Football Playoff.

The 2014 version of the Notre Dame Football team was never prepared to achieve that. However, what the team showed was an extremely talented team that is capable of winning big in the future.

This season is comparable to the 2011 campaign. In 2011, Notre Dame coughed up the ball 29 times. This year, the Fighting Irish have lost 23 turnovers (-0.20) so far. In 2012, the year Notre Dame went to the BCS National Title game, the Irish only turned the ball over 15 times. Next year’s team returns 40 out of 44 players in the two-deep. If the Irish decrease the turnovers, they will find their way to the College Football Playoff.

In the reality of today’s college football, the ceiling for Notre Dame is much lower. No team can win the National Title 4 out of 7 years like Frank Leahy did in the 1990s. The best fans should expect is competing for elite bowls each year and National Titles every other year. In 2011, 2013, 2014, Notre Dame has been in consideration for BCS Bowls or their equivalent.

This is a new era of College Football. Brian Kelly is probably the best Notre Dame can have. Is Kelly flawed? Yes, no one understands why he threw the ball deep against Tulsa and why he went for a 2-point conversion against Northwestern. But, he is winning at a pretty solid clip. Enjoy him!