A Wild Week for Notre Dame

Aug. 4, 2012; South Bend, IN, USA; The Notre Dame Fighting Irish huddle during practice at the LaBar Practice Complex. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-US PRESSWIRE

Well it has been a strange week for Irish fans to say the least. First they have to deal with their team’s extremely poor showing in Miami, and then the very real possibility of losing their head coach, who has brought the Irish football program back to the edge of college football dominance. Neither event was fun to deal with, but Irish fans need to put the past behind them and look forward from this point on. When you are a fan of one of the most storied programs in the history of college football, you have to accept the good with the bad. The Irish and their fans certainly have had much to celebrate in their history, but have also had to endure their share of heartbreak and disappointment. This season was no different as it covered the whole spectrum in regards to absolute excitement and joy, to enduring some very tough emotions both on and off the field.

Irish coach Brian Kelly made headlines everywhere this last week and pushed the world of social media to the point of collapse, when it was discovered he interviewed with Philadelphia Eagles for their vacant head coach position. While this was very alarming news already for Irish fans, what was even more disturbing was a strange aura of silence surrounding the whole ordeal. Some reports had Coach Kelly out of the country, while others had him in either South Bend, or Philadelphia for a second interview with the Eagles front office. There was heavy speculation that Kelly was simply using the situation to either warrant a raise and an extension for himself, or his assistants. Other members of the media expressed that there was true interest from both Kelly and Eagles Management, and that Kelly had become the Eagles top choice to be the successor of the position formerly held by Andy Reid.

Rumors were rampant, the silence was disturbing, and the thought of no longer having Brian Kelly as their coach, had many Irish fans in an uproar. Many posters online were claiming they even if Kelly decided he did not want the NFL job, he should not be welcomed back to South Bend. Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick, added nothing to the situation that would calm Irish fans down either, except the fact that he was willing to extend his current head coach’s contract, and include a raise. The whole scenario was an extremely polarizing event as many Notre Dame fans and media alike, chose sides. It was simply a bad situation, and one that no Irish fan wants to endure again anytime soon.

Throughout all of this though, the Irish only lost one incoming 2013 recruit, Alex Anzalone.  A linebacker out of Wyomissing,PA. If you follow college football recruiting closely, you surely understand that Mr. Anzalone, while he absolutely has every right to switch schools, may have been a bit over-rated and extremely indecisive about his future destination anyways. The majority of other Irish commits for 2013 took to Twitter and Facebook to express their love for Notre Dame, and were coming with or without Coach Kelly at the helm. That tells you that other than Alex Anzalone, the rest of the Notre Dame class of 2013 were sold on the football program, the academic opportunity, and the school as a whole, not just a coach. These are the type of players that Irish fans should want running out of the tunnel on any given Saturday Fall afternoon. Brian Kelly has often referenced recruiting the “right kind of guy” and I have a feeling that this upcoming class is full of them.

Other than admitting that the whole situation was tough to deal with, I’ve refused to pick sides. No one other than the Coach Kelly and his family, the Eagles front office, and maybe a handful of others, know the exact details of what went down over the last 9 days. So instead of becoming overly emotional on a subject in which I had very few facts about, I decided to just wait this one out. My gut told me that Kelly would be back, and in the end I was correct. Even if he had decided that accepting the Eagles job would be the most beneficial thing he could do for him and his family, I still would not have been mad at him. Yes, Kelly just claimed a week earlier that he had the best job in the world, and had no intentions on leaving it, but every fan hopefully understands coach-speak. Every coach of a major college football program has to speak it, and it’s funny how fans eat it up when it’s a positive thing for their team, but grossly over-react when it negatively effects their team.

Sometimes Irish fans need to learn how to look at things in perspective, and occasionally need to take a step back from the ledge. They need to embrace the fact that their coach has done something so intriguingly positive in South Bend, that it has caused NFL teams to take notice. So relax Irish fans, and please try to fully comprehend that Notre Dame’s fortune has turned dramatically to the positive, and it’s obvious enough, that the rest of the nation has become aware of it – you should also.