Blue and Gold Illustrated

April 2017

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

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6 APRIL 2017 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED FAN FORUM CROSSING 'THE LINE' I somehow missed Brian Kelly's "concession speech" on National Signing Day, and I have to say that I'm pretty upset about his remarks. Why in God's name would you ever say such things even if you be- lieve them? (Editor 's Note: Kelly stated that Notre Dame will basically be anywhere from "fifth to 15th" in recruiting rankings "because there's a line there we can't get over based upon what our distinctions are here.") He was telling four- and five-star recruits that Notre Dame can never be as good as Alabama or other elite teams and that if they really want to play championship football they'd best go somewhere else. First of all, it's not true. Secondly, you have to aim for the top and never be content with mediocrity. Can you imagine Jim Harbaugh or Dabo Swinney making such com- ments? No, they're too busy rolling up their sleeves and putting on an all-out blitz to get the best players possible. Kelly's defeatist remarks appear to be an attempt to make excuses for his own deficiencies in recruiting and developing players. It really makes me wonder whether he's the best man for the job. Ed Szewczyk, '73 Belleville, Ill. Mr. Szewczyk, there actually isn't anything wrong with being a regular "top five to 15" recruiting class — as long as it consistently balanced (i.e., strong on offense but not up to par on defense) and meets crucial needs in each cycle. For example, the 2012-16 recruiting classes at Clemson that comprised last year's national title winners were ranked by Rivals, chronologically: No. 14, No. 14, No. 13, No. 4 and No. 6 (the freshman class in 2016). Having an elite college quarterback such as Deshaun Watson doesn't hurt either. There also is an issue of not getting ravaged by attrition. The No. 3-ranked Notre Dame class in 2013, the one that were seniors for the 4-8 season last year, did not have half of its players on the team last year for various reasons, from injuries to transfer to academics, and even turning pro early. Alabama has had the No. 1 recruiting class six of the last seven years, and the one when it didn't it was ranked No. 2. As long as Nick Saban is the head coach, the road to the national title goes through Tuscaloosa. FROM THE WEBSITE On March 7, the day before spring practice began at Notre Dame, head coach Brian Kelly acknowledged he had become too detached from the Fight- ing Irish football players and overall operation while getting wrapped up in other university matters such as fund raising, etc. This also led to an erosion within the infrastructure that collapsed during a 4-8 season in 2016. In addition to hiring six new on-field assistant coaches and a new strength and conditioning coach, Kelly has made it a point to be more in- volved day to day with his players, including break- ing bread with them after crack of dawn workouts. He said his "exit interviews" after the season with 93 players helped open his eyes more to meeting their needs. Overall, the reaction by sub- scribers was positive, but understandably also came with a wait-and-see approach. Here is a small sample: BigND Fan80: All signs point to growth … but getting off to a good start this year and having an "event free" spring/summer is crucial. Bjamin41: A lot of coaches are able to change and adept to become more successful after they had some poor seasons: Pete Carroll, Nick Saban, Bill Belichick, Lou Holtz … just to name a few. NDCorby: Kelly has to get back to basics. He was a great coach at Grand Valley State, Central Michi- gan, Cincinnati — that consistent success isn't an accident. I don't think he was a fluke or all flash like a Butch Jones. "Notre Disney" interfering with its own product is not a new phenomenon. Glad coach is learning the power of delegating now. We don't need another rebuild. Tom Coughlin won 2 Super Bowl AFTER he realized he needed to let his players in and change his coaching style. Coach Brian Kelly took full responsibility for the 4-8 season. He self-evaluated, solic- ited and listened to the input of all of his players. He checked his ego at the door and went out looking for an offensive coordinator he could trust with his vision on offense and play calling. He hired a new defensive coordinator, fired his friend in order to introduce a new strength and conditioning coach and program … held together with all the new coaches for a successful 2017 recruiting class while laying the foundation for an even better class of 2018. While there are no guarantees for success, anyone who does not respect all of the time, thought and effort that went into this transition is either ignorant, a hater or an ass. akWilliams: Fund raising? Really? That is why we suck in football. How about poor coaching? Losing to Navy when you outweigh them 40 to 50 pounds per man and they don't have one athlete as good as you has nothing to do with fund raising or not buddying up with the guys at 5 a.m. or at breakfast. RPMcMurphyyy: Saturday, Kelly is not going to change. Sagashark: Can you really reinvent yourself this late in your coaching career? I see some exam- ples listed on this thread but those coaches didn't change that much. A tiger can hide his stripes but not change them. GB_Irish1: I've put in a lot of time and effort into disliking Kelly the last year or so. It's going to take a little more than a few months during the offseason and a neat press conference for me to undo my rage. Mike Doll: It's nice he recognized this need — but where was it before? It's pretty basic and should be understood by a seasoned head coach. Buck25: In the short run it appears BK is at least making an effort. I am embracing this news in a very positive way. Getting up at 4:30 a.m. every day is not easy when you are lazy and overpaid, and if it takes 93 exit interviews to tell you how be an engaged coach, then so be it. We have to understand that most of this is window-dressing, and we must solve the long-run coaching issue. Johnmichi51: Typically, major change can only be truly driven when dire circumstances require no other alternative. That is the situation at ND this year. The challenge will be to make the new approach a habit. After last season's struggles, head coach Brian Kelly has made it a point to be more involved day to day with his players. PHOTO BY JOE RAYMOND

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