Notre Dame football is one of just 12 teams in the FBS to make the final AP Poll of 2019 and also return their head coach and starting quarterback. That continuity could be the key to a successful 2020 season.
One of the unique and exciting aspects of college athletics is the rate at which the roster changes. Each year, upperclassmen student-athletes leave to pursue a career in professional sports or some other field. At the same time, incoming freshmen are preparing to join the program.
Roster turnover has also increased due to transfers. In a 2018 study, the NCAA found that the percentage of student-athletes transferring has increased in a number of Division I sports.
The turnover of college football head coaches at FBS programs is roughly equivalent to that of a normal college student. In an article from 2017, Business Insider reported data that showed the average tenure of a college football head coach is 3.8 years.
I say all of this on the front end to emphasize the fortune of the Notre Dame football team’s current situation. The Irish are one of just 12 teams in the FBS that finished in the final AP Poll of the 2019 season and have a returning head coach and starting quarterback.
The other 11 schools that fit in that category are Clemson, Ohio State, Florida, Auburn, Penn State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Texas, Central Florida, Cincinnati, and Boise State. Not bad company to be in.
While Notre Dame’s combination of Brian Kelly and Ian Book might not stack up to the likes of Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and Trevor Lawrence, there is still a great benefit that comes from having continuity at those positions.
I’m sure there is no shortage of Irish fans who would argue that Brian Kelly and Ian Book have hit their respective ceilings in college football. While that may be true, they also have proven to have very high floors.
Continuity at leadership positions can aid in the development of the less experienced players and coaches within the program. There is plenty of value in returning one of the longest-tenured coaches in Notre Dame history and an experienced quarterback with 23 wins in the last two seasons.