Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2015

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

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UPON FURTHER REVIEW TODD D. BURLAGE F ootball coaches, by nature, are typically not the most flexible people to work with or for, espe- cially the successful ones. If the for- mula works, don't mess with it, right? But as curiosity will always kill the cat, stubbornness will forever un- dermine the coach. Look no further than Brian Kelly's two predecessors at Notre Dame, Charlie Weis and Tyrone Willingham. Weis could never let go of an NFL approach that suits full-time profes- sional players well, but not student- athletes who have much more to balance beyond football. And for Will- ingham, a fierce loyalty to his assistant coaches was noble, but it continually ignored the issues of mounting losses and crummy recruiting. Based on the firm vote of confidence last month from Notre Dame athlet- ics director Jack Swarbrick, Kelly is clearly on firmer footing than his two predecessors found themselves. "He's on a very cold seat," Swarbrick said of Kelly in a story for The Observer, the Notre Dame student newspaper. "… I think the foundation of the program is as strong as it's been in my seven years here." Swarbrick's message wasn't exactly ground-breaking or breathtaking, but it was notable with so many cyber reports of a strained relationship be- tween the Irish athletics director and the head coach. "We'd all like to win a national championship," Swarbrick added. "But if you told me five years ago when we made the decision [to hire Kelly], 'Here's what you're going to accomplish, and here's what your re- cord is going to be,' I would be okay with that." Brian Kelly is and will continue to be Notre Dame's head coach, at least through next season. Beyond that, it's hard to say. Injuries, suspensions or otherwise, this year suggested that Kelly's pro- gram has slipped back into neutral since Notre Dame's undefeated regu- A Change Will Do You Good After leading the Irish to a 12-0 mark during the 2012 regular season, Brian Kelly had fashioned just a 16-10 record heading into the Music City Bowl Dec. 30. PHOTO BY JOE RAYMOND

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