More Smoke to the Brian Kelly Fire

It's looking more and more likely that Brian Kelly will be the next head coach for Notre Dame with reports indicating an announcement could come Friday. (Photo - Icon SMI)

The supposed interview that was to take place between Notre Dame and Brian Kelly never happened Tuesday, but speculation hasn’t cooled that Kelly will be the next head coach for the Fighting Irish. In fact, several reports have indicated that Kelly could be named as Charlie Weis’s replacement as early as Friday.

Reports surfaced Monday that Kelly was going to interview with Notre Dame on Tuesday in New York while he was in town for the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame dinner. ESPN’s Joe Schad reported Tuesday afternoon that the interview wasn’t going to take place but that the likelihood of Brian Kelly being named the head coach at Notre Dame was heating up.

The Chicago Tribune’s David Haugh, a former Notre Dame beat writer for the South Bend Tribune, reported later Tuesday that Kelly is on the “brink” of being named the head coach with an announcement coming as early as Friday.

Cincinnati has its team banquet on Thursday and the current speculation is that Kelly does not want to be announced as the head coach of Notre Dame before he has a chance to address his team Thursday.

At this point, however, nothing is certain. Kelly told the Cincinnati Enquirer on Tuesday that while he has had talks with Notre Dame, “I’m talking to UC, too.”

The Enquirer also reported on Tuesday that should Kelly leave Cincinnati before January 10th, he would owe the university $1 million.

It’s still unclear whether or not Kelly would coach Cincinnati in their upcoming Sugar Bowl showdown with Florida, but some reports are suggesting that there is a strong possibility that he would not coach the game and would take over full time at Notre Dame if he accepted the job.

The only that is clear at this point is that there is entirely too much smoke surrounding the Kelly to Notre Dame rumors that there has to be some fire behind them. Kelly has publically stated he is interested in the Notre Dame job and told Dan Patrick on Monday there he couldn’t guarantee that he would coach the Sugar Bowl.

Lou Holtz added a little more fuel to fire on the Colin Cowherd radio show Tuesday telling the host that he fully expected Brian Kelly to be named the Irish coach by Friday barring any unforeseen setbacks over the next few days.

The other names still being connected with the search, albeit with much less regularity or likelihood, include Randy Edsall, Tommy Tuberville, and Skip Holtz. None are considered serious contenders for the job at this point though with Kelly being the odds on favorite at this point.

As always, stayed tuned as the search continues and apparently starts to wind down.

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  1. I guess I can understand the offense not being up to par with the way they have played the past 3 weeks considering the receivers and TE that are out. But why haven’t we seen improvement from Crist in his reads and playmaking? This guy is so inconsistent and hasn’t picked up on his mistakes for the past 2+ months. The defense actually played better against the Wolverines and MSU, so this regression is very disheartening. Coach K is really trying to get himself fired rather quickly if he can’t find a way to hammer, or at least compete, with teams of Navy’s caliber. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the our top recruits start looking elsewhere, and I guess you can’t really blame them. This is not something that is going to get fixed in a year or two. If somehow Kelly can last 3-4 years and continue bringing in “his guys”, then if something like this happens in year 3 or 4, he needs to go. As of right now, he has a pass I suppose, but he himself needs to shoulder the blame along with his players and get it together for USC and Utah.

  2. Has anyone been able to research Kelly’s defensive record over his 230 game head coaching career? I have not, but I would be surprised if he won over 74 per cent of his games at three stops solely on a high powered offense. Is it true they lost 10 starters on defense from ’08? I don’t have the answers, just food for thought. I fear Edsall has not yet proven himself. Go Irish!

  3. The 1st call that should have been made was to Jon Gruden to test his conviction to broadcasting/NFL. After giving him the pitch, hang-up, and let him consider the options.

    Immediately call Brian Kelly, and see what he is doing later this month and ask if he had a few moments to discuss a change of venue and pay raise. Impress upon him that to take his place among college football’s greatest coaches, then he has to be great at a major university.

    Once that call was concluded, give Randy Edsall a call and let him know how impressed you are with his work at UCONN and ask if he might be interested in recruiting top prep athletes into his program. Remind him of the success that he has had with inspiring mid-level talent to overachieve, just imagine what he could do with 3 to 4 blue chippers per year. Impress upon him that his coaching ability is under recognized because of the raw talent afforded to him in Storrs.

    Then call Skip Holtz and ask if he is ready to step off of daddies coat tails and truly make a name for himself in college football.

    Once all of the calls have been made, cut a deal with the one that wants the job the most, not the one that wants the most for the job.

    All four of these coaches can and would have tremendous success at Notre Dame but for very different reasons and with different techniques. BK will have success with the spread offense, and recruiting players for that offense, but only as long as it exists in the NFL. Once it is abandoned by the big boys, many recruits will not want to come to a school that practices ancient offenses. BK teams will always be high scoring offense, bend don’t break defense. Playing lesser opponents, the defense will look good, playing equally talented opponents the offense will have to play great.
    Jon Gruden, Randy Edsall, and Skip Holtz are similar in that the offenses will eat clock, move chains and the defenses will smack opponents in the mouth and be very stingy about giving up yards. Championships are won by defense, end of story.

    I will rejoice if any of these four are named as the next head football coach because we should have a much improved year in 2010. I will scratch my head and take a wait and see attitude with all others.

  4. I gotta say, If our final 3 was Billick, Edsall and Kelly I’d be pretty happy with that.

    Kelly’s got a fine resume, but I’m going to put myself out on a limb here and say I like Edsall. He’s made Uconn football. He’s got that running game/defensive mindset that I love. And he gets as much out of his players as he can.

      1. Please, grace us with ND’s top 4.

        Not YOUR top 4.
        Not the MEDIA’s top 4.

        ND’s Top 4.

        The ONLY candidate ND has actually had any real (not gossip) communication with before Edsall was Kelly. And ND’s the one considering other options.

        Don’t feed me crap about how you hate ND and they couldn’t find a coach if they wanted to. Tell you what, if Kelly or Edsall turn down ND and then turn around and sign with a different team we can talk. But until that happens, don’t come to me with your delusions of failure.

      2. Ok i guess you are right, edsell was their second choice. That in itself is pathetic to me; a guy with a losing record at UCONN, unproven recruiter, and absolutely no offense to speak of. I understand he coached through a tragedy this year and “gets as much out of his players as he can,” but if he is such a great coach where have all the other schools been lining up for him in the last 11 years?

    1. I think Edsall is a rock, and would provide a Tom Coughlan like influential of toughness, discipline, and no BS. Make him our coach this year and we are much better. He beat us and look who his QB was.

  5. espn says Edsall still in play, also, Billick wanted the job but understands the ND position after Weis debacle, nice to hear someone wanted the job

  6. I just hope Gruden and Cowher were atleast offered a sales pitch from Notre Dame. If they were i would be able to settle for the likes of Kelly or some other hopeful experiment.
    Atleast we have a lawyer deciding which football coach is the right fit for ND’s future.

    Do u think our lawyer is breaking down old films, analyzing past recruiting classes, talking to co-coaches and competitors and talking to current ND football coaches about the next Coach?

    I hope he isn’t going on who gives the best interview!
    We all have friends that could give great interviews but may not be the best candidate.

  7. I think if Kelly brings in a decent DC that teaches fundamentals, this defense will be fine. I saw these players try to knock the head off the runner instead of squaring up and wrapping the ballhandler.

    They need a guy who is going to teach a simple base defense, no more of this blitz every down junk. No more worrying about 3-4 or 4-3. Just start with a simple base defense with the occasional blitz and this team will be fine. I know Willingham had a horrible offense, but his defense was pretty solid for the most part. They seemed to be fundamentally sound and were the strength of his teams while he was here.

    Hopefully, it will be an open tryout for the defense and some of these other kids get a shot. I keep on hearing about Filer, but he never saw the field that much. You can’t tell me Harrison Smith was better than him at linebacker. I think Manti should be the middle linebacker and put Brian on the outside or on the bench. There is some talent in the secondary as well, just need to be taught the fundamantals.

    I really think that Charlie and his staff spent too much time trying to “outthink” the other team instead of teaching the basics and letting the talent override in the game. You could tell this defense was thinking, not reacting. I want a DC who will teach fundamentals, so they will react using their ability and not think and be out of position.

    With proper teaching, a winning attitude, and a simpler approach to the game, ND can have a defense that will take them where they want to go.

    1. I agree. I don’t want to sound OVERLY confident, but I KNOW our offense will be just as good (if not better) next year as they were this year. But unless Kelly does something about the defense, it won’t matter if Notre Dame is “Wide Receiver U”.

      Defense wins championships. Hell, look at Nebraska…if they don’t kick the ball out-of-bounds on the kick-off and have the horse-collar penalty (both on Texas’ final drive), they beat Texas. And had Nebraska won, they would’ve done it with…get this…106 YDS OF OFFENSE. See, while CW and his QB and WRs have these great stats and are GREAT players, it doesn’t matter how great they are when the defense is giving up close to 30 pts per game.

      If Kelly can figure out this defensive issue…we’re as gold as the dome.

    2. Gregg… No doubt we need defense, I was just making the point that there are a few guys I’d like to see on the field more, and given the immense amount of talent we have at WR, ND can produce a lot of potential pro talent (thus helping recruiting).

      Totally 100% agree about needing defense though. Kelly started out on the defensive side of the ball, but is obviously more offensive minded. I sure hope he can bring someone in (more than likely not from ND or Cinci) who can teach tackling, and teach DB’s to turn and make a play on the ball. I think the Irish have a lot of talent on defense (D-line could be stronger, though), they just need the fundamentals to go with it.

      1. Jake,

        I hear you on our DBs. Every single game, play after play, no one is looking for the F***ING football. There were countless plays where if our boys would just turn their head, we would have a pass defended and maybe even a pick. It was so frustrating watching this every week.

        Don’t even get me started on the tackling. Whoever is teaching the “dive” technique needs to be canned. I played several years of football and was a DB…I was NEVER taught to dive at the guy’s legs and hope they fall down. “Screws in the chest and wrap up”. I’d rather see a guy get trucked while trying wrap up with his screws in the guy’s chest, as opposed to this dive crap that doesn’t work worth a shit because that’s NOT how you tackle.

      2. You think of Omar Hunter and Justin Trattou switching to FL at the last minute, notwithstanding crappy scheme and fundamentals, that was devastating

  8. This is one of the best things I have ever read on this board:

    Willingham, well I’m not so sure he ever really had an offense.

    Sad, but true!

  9. Totally agreed that Kelly, if not the “dream” coach for ND, is definitely far better than the rest of the possible candidates. Hopefully with recruiting he can pull with him a handful of the guys he recruited to Cinci, and minimize the damage to the current incoming class.

    I am a little bit worried about his scheme, however. Although I didn’t really buy into the whole “you can’t bring a finesse offense into South Bend” outcry, I grew wary when I saw Cinci line up in shotgun and hand off on first and goal from the 1-foot-line against Pitt (although Cinci scored pretty easily on the play). Davies ran the ball up the middle every other play, Weis passed too much, and Willingham, well I’m not so sure he ever really had an offense. As ND fans, we’re naturally skeptical of playcalling, and I hope for Kelly’s sake (assuming he takes the position) that ND fans can embrace his system, which has proven itself through his numbers.

    With all that being said, just a question of curiosity – What players, who haven’t seen much PT, will get a legitimate shot of making leaps in the depth chart? My personal favorites are:

    Zeke Motta – guy is an animal on special teams, almost always the first one down the field, and plays with a lot of emotion. I’d love to see him get a chance at strong safety or weakside linebacker.

    Shaq Evans – the guy replaces the #2 receiver in the second game of the year. This lead most of us to believe he was a legit receiver ready to make an impact, but he was pretty absent the rest of the season. In a spread formation, I think we’ll get to see what he can do.

    Deion Walker – guy high in ranking and full of expectations when he arrived, hasn’t really done much on the field. A tall and talented receiver such as Deion should thrive in this system, assuming he puts the work in.

    With the talent ND has, and is capable of pulling it, Kelly can turn this program into Wide Receiver U.

  10. If Kelly doesn’t become ND’s next coach, please go after Stoops. No, NOT BOB!!!!! Bob belongs to Oklahoma. I’m talking Mike. He is a young, enthusiastic coach with bonus points–he is Catholic and looks Irish. Also, you might get 2 Stoops for the price of one if he brought brother Mark with him.

    Whoever is coach, I remain a long time fan of ND.

    1. Let us not forget
      that ARa was not Catholic and was one of the greatest not only at ND but of all time.
      Furthermore, Notre Dame was founded by FRENCH Priests-
      and FRENCH orders–
      Despite being the “FIGHTING IRISH”
      We are Catholic-but also diverse to some degree.
      I would welcome an Evangelical or a Jewish man for that matter as long as he got the job done. ( Dont’ forget Jesus HIMSELF is NOT Catholic–HE was and WILL BE AND IS A JEW)
      So—for the “Catholic Image”
      it is icing to the cake but I have heard ENOUGH of the “CATHOLIC IMAGE” for Football Coach being ultra-important. I am Catholic too but could care less whether he is or is not Catholic–as long as he can recruit, REALLY COACH, bring some much needed defense and for HEAVENS SAKE –get a kicker the likes of Hentrich of the Holtz era.
      Enough said.
      Go Notre Dame!

  11. Brian Kelly is the right hire at this time. This will be good all around for recruiting and for the future of the program. I hope he keeps a few of the “worthy” assistant coaches that have been recruiting their hearts out for ND the past week (and previous years as well).

    On the bright side of Clausen and Tate turning pro: 1. This will help recruiting in the long run to see some top round draft picks coming out of Notre Dame again; 2. That does open up two more scholarships, but I would rather have had those fellows back there instead; 3. Shaq should see the coaching change and the open slot as more playing available time for him to step up to get; 4. Kelly gets to start with a clean slate on offense to do what he wants to do, and with some very talented individuals to chose from – a little light in depth at quarterback, but both the incoming freshman are outstanding and hopefully Rees early enrolls in January.

    1. Plus the hendrix kid (who is a 4-star recruit) was being recruited by…yup you guessed it cincy and brian kelly! So even if crist isn’t totally recovered and healthy (which he should be) then the two incoming frosh are at least guys that kelly can definitely work with. That’s the part that excites me most about kelly is his ability to develop under-rated players.

      1. There’s another horse down in Cincinnati (Matt James – Xavier – 3.5 GPA) a 6’8″ offensive lineman that has narrowed down to Ohio State, ND and Cincy, so hopefully we can pick him up in recruiting.

        Kelly has to be really excited about the level of talent here waiting to be developed.

  12. if brian kelly passes up Notre Dame, im afraid of who would take the job (assuming that urban meyer and bob stoops were sincere about staying at their respective universities)

  13. Need Kelly for sure and soon! I dont trust attorneys (Swarbrick) so there is still time to screw this up I guess…..Man I hope there is an announcement soon.

  14. I do hope Brian Kelly is named the Head Coach of Notre Dame before the end of the week for a few reasons.

    -I think Kelly is the right guy and have thought so since we lost to Navy. I’m even bigger on the Kelly bandwagon if the other candidates are (as this article states) Randy Edsall, Tommy Tuberville, and Skip Holtz.

    -While I love the banter on, I’m ready for a decision to be made. I realize it’s only been 12 days since the season has ended, but the search had to have started after the Navy game and was definitely on after the Pittsburgh game. So Swarbrick should have known who the candidates were.

    -If this drags on, who knows what will happen with recruits, other candidates (lord help us if we don’t get Kelly) as well as potential coaching staff, and overall perception of Jack Swarbrick and Notre Dame.

    -And most importantly…I am ready to see what direction Kelly will take Notre Dame from the get go.

    I want Kelly and his 171-57-2 record at Notre Dame as soon as possible.


  15. While it might be the “weird season”, an announcement that Kelly is the new Irish head-coach seems imminent.

    Kelly’s a good fit. He’s a proven winner. And, despite his defenses at Cincy, he played linebacker and was a defensive coordinator. He’s also personable, and charismatic. For the first time in a long, long time I think Irish football will be fun to watch with my dad (ND ’50) again.

    On the other hand I’d like to see him coach in the Sugar Bowl to see how the Bearcats do against Florida with him calling the shots.

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