Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2021

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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6 FEBRUARY 2021 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED FAN FORUM SAME SCRIPT, MIXED REVIEWS If you go to the theater and are watching a very entertaining movie, but it has a bad ending, was it still a good movie? That is the metaphorical question I ponder when reflecting on the 2020 season in particular, and the Notre Dame football program as a whole. Clearly, the Fighting Irish made great strides under Brian Kelly's reign and he deserves credit. Their record the past four years (43-8) has been worthy of the school's heritage and tradition. My critique of the program is that is has taken Kelly too long to im- plement more aggressive recruiting goals. I know academic and other factors are in play, but I refuse to be- lieve that Notre Dame cannot recruit at a top-five level consistently. The elephant in the room is that while substantial improvements have been made, the results against the elites continue to be subpar and mostly non-competitive for too long a time now. Once again, the lack of dynamic, big-play skill athletes who can play in space had been exposed. Alabama was able to turn passes out in the flat to big plays just based on athletic ability. You can no longer win championship games 17-13. And with all due respect to Ian Book, an elite playmaking QB continues to elude Kelly as well. I have confidence that Kelly knows this and is trying to rectify it. I congratulate him on a fine season under difficult circumstances and thank him for the past four years. One more hump to get over. So while Notre Dame may not be "Casablanca" or "Citizen Kane" yet, at least it is no longer "Ishtar." Ed Polli Bridgeport, Ohio BIG-STAGE FRIGHT The Fighting Irish against Alabama on New Year 's Day was similar to Ralphie in "A Christmas Story." Just like Ralphie had big dreams and visions of getting what he most wanted for Christmas, his "Red Rider BB Gun," when his time on the big stage came with Santa, he froze and couldn't remember what he came for. The Irish did the same in the Rose Bowl: They seemingly froze in the first quarter and couldn't remember/perform what had gotten them to the big stage. Ralphie stumbles and stutters with his answer until he is put on the slide. He recovers briefly and blurts out his wish only to have Santa put his foot on his forehead to complete his journey down the slide. Similarly the Irish recovered ever so briefly only to have Bama finish another big-game beatdown quickly in the third quarter. After his dream was shattered and he was laying in the fake cotton snow at the bottom of the slide, Ralphie re- flects on his missed opportunity. The Irish and their fans sit back and re- flect on another missed opportunity on the big bowl stage just like the past 27 years (since '94 Cotton Bowl). Are the Kelly Irish better than the Davie Irish, the Willingham Irish, the Weis Irish? Yes, yes, yes. But as Irish fans, we still have bigger dreams just like Ralphie. Maybe we should ac- cept what Santa offered: "a football." Go Irish 2021! Gorman Findley Centre Hall, Pa. MIXED FEELINGS I am not sure how I feel about Coach Kelly. On one hand, I think he has done an admirable job. He has made some upgrades to the program that have helped move the team into the 21st century and compete with the other schools. I am sure he has some ob- stacles with admissions that most schools don't. The BCS Championship and two playoff appearances in the last nine seasons are very nice accomplish- ments. However, those three games and Clemson Part II of this past sea- son have all been duds. I could ex- pect maybe one or two duds of those four games, but Notre Dame was not even a threat in those games. Coach Kelly will more than likely have the most wins at Notre Dame as head coach … but there really aren't any great wins to show for it. The Clemson win would have been nice had Clemson moved on in the playoff. Is this the best that Notre Dame can be? Or is this the best Notre Dame can be with Coach Kelly? Bob Dent Via the Internet A BROKEN PRODUCT College football is broken! Two powerhouses in the Southeast, one legitimate Midwest contender from Columbus. Yeah, yeah, every now and then a Notre Dame or Oklahoma may sneak into the playoff. Yeah, yeah, every two or three blue moons an LSU will get really lucky. The solution lies in the past: 1984- 2005 was a really fun era! Is Doc Brown and his time machine around? Pat Patrick Via the Internet Mr. Patrick, our guess is that if Notre Dame were one of the "Big Three," then we wouldn't be as upset about college football being broken. You can probably take that 1984-2005 era back to even 1980. That's because in the five years from 1980-84, there were five consecutive first-time national champs with Georgia, Clemson, Penn State, Miami and BYU. Overall, in those 26 seasons from 1980-2005 there were 20 different na- tional champions, including split titles with Colorado/Georgia Tech (1990), Washington/Miami (1991), Nebraska/ Michigan (1997) and LSU/USC (2003). BE HEARD! Send your letters to: Letters Blue & Gold Illustrated P. O. Box 1007, Notre Dame, IN 46556 or e-mail to: Head coach Brian Kelly had Notre Dame in conten- tion for the national championship for the third time in nine seasons, but the 31-14 loss to Alabama had Irish fans contemplating whether or not they could ever break through with him in charge. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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