Blue and Gold Illustrated

January 2015

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

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Page 44 of 115

BY LOU SOMOGYI "You do not come to the University of Notre Dame because you want to be aver- age. You want to be the best of the best … and those aren't 8-4 years … it's about win- ning championships and being in the BCS and being nationally prominent." — Brian Kelly, upon his introduction as head coach on Dec. 10, 2009 P rior to the final four games of Notre Dame's 2014 season, the school's football media relations office emphasized the fol- lowing in its pregame notes: "With a win, Brian Kelly would become the first coach to begin his Notre Dame career with five straight eight-win seasons." Not even Knute Rockne — whose initial Notre Dame team in 1918 played only six games — nor any of the other four Fighting Irish icons who are immortalized with statues along the perimeter of the football stadium, accomplished what Kelly might this season. At 7-1 earlier this year, it seemed a cinch that Kelly would reach that eight-win total that he had down- graded at his introduction as Notre Dame's head coach five years ago. Yet as his 7-5 Fighting Irish prepare to play LSU in the Music City Bowl Dec. 30, suddenly eight wins in a season seems like a coveted achievement again. Of course, Kelly has had the advan- tage of playing 13 games each of his first five seasons, whereas many of his predecessors had nine-, 10- or 11- game slates. Positive spin is part of any school's media relations depart- ment job description. The 13 games per year also high- light another aspect about Kelly's ca- reer. He joins Joe Kuharich (1959-62) and Gerry Faust (1981-85) as the lone Notre Dame coaches to lose a mini- mum of four games at least four times during his tenure, and he just now completed year five. That, in a nutshell, defines Kelly's CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE Brian Kelly's five seasons have been neither great nor poor, which creates a dilemma

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