Notre Dame Head Coach Brian Kelly’s Accountability Doesn’t Add Up

Brian Kelly - Notre Dame Football Head Coach
Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly leaves the field after the Louisville Cardinals defeated Notre Dame 31-28 at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s get one thing straight: Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly is unquestionably the best coach the Fighting Irish have had since legend Lou Holtz roamed the sidelines years ago.  It’s an objective, undeniable fact.  But considering the combined winning percentage (.576) of Bob Davie, Tyrone Willingham and Charlie Weis, the response to that fact might very well be, “So what?”  Such an attitude seems to be growing in intensity as Notre Dame continues its unexpected descent.

Notre Dame’s first ever match against No. 24 Louisville was to be different than the previous week’s startling loss to Northwestern, the worst defeat suffered under the Kelly era.  This time, as reported by NBC prior to kickoff, patience had been wearing thin amongst the Irish coaching staff, and as a result the “a-word” everyone had been waiting for was finally uttered: accountability.  If you’re reckless with the football, you’ll get the hook, which is a fair standard by which to judge every player.

Accountability is a buzz word for the Notre Dame faithful.  My father has regaled me countless times with the story of Lou Holtz sending star running backs Ricky Watters and Tony Brooks home to South Bend for showing up late to a meeting mere hours before Notre Dame and USC played one another as undefeated, top-ranked opponents for the first time in both programs’ rich history.  Notre Dame would win the game without its stars, 27-10, en route to a national championship victory over West Virginia.

If that’s accountability, the generation of Notre Dame fans like myself who have never seen the Fighting Irish as a college football power are all in.  With that kind of lore attached to accountability, who knew what to expect against the Louisville Cardinals?  After yet another turnover at the hands of starting quarterback Everett Golson, who now has 20 turnovers in an eight-game stretch – which doesn’t even include an additional fumble coughed up that wasn’t recovered by Louisville – Notre Dame fans were forced to see the truth: the statement about accountability from Brian Kelly was merely a hollow threat to shield himself from growing criticism.  If there is to be any accountability whatsoever inside Notre Dame Stadium, it will have to be courtesy of the media during Kelly’s press conferences.

The biggest victim of Kelly’s brand of “accountability” is redshirt freshman and backup quarterback Malik Zaire.  When Zaire first committed to the University of Notre Dame over programs such as Alabama and Ohio State, the Kettering, OH, native was asked why he would select the Fighting Irish when Everett Golson would still have three years of eligibility remaining upon Zaire’s arrival.  The talented Ohioan’s answer was simple: all I want is a fair chance to compete for the starting position.

Zaire has been forced to watch from the sideline as Golson racks up turnover after turnover, and he’s had to do so all while hearing Kelly’s empty promises of accountability.  What’s the magical turnover threshold Golson must hit before Zaire gets just one offensive drive to prove himself?  Twenty-two?  Twenty-five?  Thirty turnovers?  And to make matters worse, Zaire had to grin and bear it while Notre Dame’s senior kicker, Kyle Brindza, berated him for a hold on a missed 32-yard field goal that ultimately doomed the Irish against Louisville.  Zaire did temporarily mishandle the snap, but that really is beside the point.  Was Zaire to blame when Brindza muffed both field goal attempts against Northwestern last week when the Wildcats’ walk-on kicker outplayed him?  Was it also Zaire’s fault when Brindza shanked a 34-yard punt in the second quarter against the Cardinals?

The real issue is that Brindza was allowed to yell at a fellow player at all on the sideline.  Where is the accountability?  When has it become permissible for a struggling senior to yell at a freshman in the middle of a game without a coach breaking it up?  Not only is Kelly failing to impose accountability on his players, he’s failing to exert any kind of control whatsoever.  The only thing Zaire has ever requested is a fair chance to compete.  Instead, he’s been forced to watch as Golson turns the ball over at an unprecedented rate, and gets blamed when a senior kicker can’t fight through his slump.  If there were awards for character, patience and turning the other cheek, Malik Zaire would be the unanimous selection.

There is no indication that Notre Dame is capable of escaping from the tailspin it currently finds itself in, and the threat of a five or six loss season is becoming more likely with each passing week.  Notre Dame’s slide from relevancy in 2014 should coincide with Kelly sliding onto the coaching hot seat to start the 2015 season.

Is it fair to state that a head coach who has compiled a 44-19 record and one national championship appearance in five seasons should be on the hot seat?  Absolutely not.  But as witnessed by this season, fairness has no place in Kelly’s program.

Scott Janssen is a blogger for the Huffington Post and has authored several nationally-featured articles, including an appearance on MSNBC as a sports contributor.  He talks football 24 hours a day, much to the chagrin of his wife and those around him.  Scott can be reached at [email protected].

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  1. Bottom line, eliminate 2007 for Charlie Weis and 2012 for Brian Kelly-Weis and they at this point have identical won loss records. Odd to me how in year five Kelly is being given a free pass and yet Irish fans wanted Weis fired long before season 5. Cannot argue recruiting ability of either coach, but will argue til I am blue in the face Weis and Kelly continuously fail(Ed) to get the maximum ability out of their players. Herein lies the problem. If the Irish are to ever be legitimate again, they need to hire a coach in the mold of Parsegian or Holtz. Coaches who could take marginal players and make them productive players, productive players and make them all-americans, and all-american players and make Heisman trophy winners.

    Just as I had my doubts about Weis when he was hired felt the same way about Kelly. In my mind the doubts I had then have been confirmed, Kelly has not and will never get the program back to its glory days. People could try and throw in the 2012 season as an argument. Does not work for me! Fortunate calls by the officials that year in the Pittsburgh and Stanford games as well as Tommy Rees coming off the bench in 2 other games went a long ways to resulting in a 12 and 0 regular season.

    Have been a lifelong Irish fan, more than 40 years, it is time for Kelly to go. Can only hope once the season ends Florida will be idiotic enough to go hard at Kelly and he walks away leaving the program in no better shape than when he arrived.

  2. Paraphrasing Lou Holtz pep talk to Steve Beurlein. Lou: Steve, good news.I guarantee you that you won’t have 7 interceptions this year. Steve: That’s great coach Holtz. What are we doing differently this year? New offensive scheme, different protection? Lou: No, none of that. When you reach 6 interceptions I’m sitting you.

  3. Great article. If your 2nd or 3rd string qb isn’t ready to step up, that’s on you as a head coach. You gave him the scholarship and It’s your responsibility to make sure he is ready to enter the game if your 1st team qb doesn’t perform or gets injured. just going to hotter and hotter for Kelly, and I haven’t seen anything lately that shows me he can take it.

  4. DURANKO IS OUR FOOTBAll priest. you gotta believe, you got to have faith. and at one time you could believe we could beat anyone on the right day. but any priest will tell you about responsibility and consequences for not living up to those responsibilities. next time you see them running through our lbs, think of this.
    “Rivals 4-star linebacker commitment, Alex Anzalone, decommitted from Notre Dame and immediately enrolled at the University of Florida, citing Kelly’s interview with the Eagles as the motivation for his switch.”
    forgiveness comes with 13-0.

  5. Scott Janssen – Good article. It needed to be said. I hope Brian Kelly reads it.

    I think Golson is a great quarterback but I was hoping Zaire was going to start the second half against Louisville and play at least several series. Golson needs a break. I could accept a loss with Zaire over a win with Golson at this point. Golson will be back but needs to clear his head. Sometimes you need to risk losing for the benefit of the team and its future.

  6. I stated the day Kelly got hired that he was in over his head and he is the wrong man for ND. 5 years later I stand by those initial words.

      1. Real classy dude. Another 4 or more loss season for the Irish. I guess you are OK with the new standard.

    1. And what would you have seen in Lou at that perennial powerhouse, the Gophers, that would have keyed him as a great coach?

      Or Ara at NW? Aside from his only signature wins were vs ND?

      Or Saban BEFORE LSU?

      Great coaches become great along the way.

  7. You will hear every excuse in the book. The fact remains ND is just not a good team this year. Why……let me note the reasons! 1. The QB is just not a top notch player. He looked great against lesser opponents but against some decent teams his weakness have been exposed. 2. The offensive line is a disaster and don’t tell me about injuries. They are a part of any football season regardless of the level of play. Compound that by the fact that ND has very few acceptable subs, poor recruiting! 3. The once stellar defense is like cheap swiss cheese, it is stinking up the place! 4. Play calling and decision making by both coaches and players is suspect to say the least. 5. Yes, Kelly is head and shoulders above his predecessors, with the exception of Sweet Lou. Kelly does not have the ability to make any meaningful adjustments at half like Holtz use to do frequently. 6.Same as 1….they are just not a good team unless they play a mediocre to poor team. The game against Florida State, not impressed, everyone has played FSU tough! Wake up ND, It might be time to consider a change at the top.

  8. The point on giving Zaire a chance is being missed. Some of us who say
    put in him mean for a series or two. A lot of times than the starter who
    relaxes on the sideline comes back in after watching and does better. I
    am hoping BK isnt doing this worrying about Zaire doing well which would make
    him look bad.

  9. Of coarse Saban turned it down. He has the best gig he will ever find. Complete control. A football factory. Little administration interference or handcuffs. He will leave when it’s not a challenge for him or self fulfilling. Alabama also is not a program that honors their contracts to its players in good faith. Players loosing scholarships, over recruiting, etc. so be it. ND does not run that type of program (proudly). Competition is stiff. We have the horses. Kelly has to stay. EG needs to start. Has kept every game competitive. Even the “A” State game we had the opportunity. Yes MZ should have gotten playing time. All that being said. Accountability and short comings show themselves on game day. To much is put on these kids for scheme. Both offense and defense. Physical contact sport. Beat the man in front of you. Simplify. Zone block. Platoon offensive line. Run the ball. Front seven on defense, keep the bodies off of you. Shuck and speed. We have those players now. Fundamentals always need refreshing late in season. Blocking and especially tackling. We have great student athletes so use and coach them. Don’t fill their heads with to much. For those who love Bama so much, that’s their game plan. I am with these kids and thankful for them. Looking for a physical dominating performance at USC. Have faith in them.

  10. re: Accountability/ Brian Kelly . . .

    Despite the long freakish interception return that bounced off an OL helmet, and the goal-line and the near goal-line fumbles all costing ND potentially 21 points, then another fumble from the most reliable sure-handed RB we’ve had while attempting to run out the clock, with ND giving up way too much yardage and points to a struggling offense, all added to the horrific loss vs. NW. But the worst decision of the year (drum roll) = Go for two with an 11 point lead in the 4th quarter vs. NW, keeping what little hope for victory they had alive. Original excuse- the kicker was in a funk, which started during the game BK decided to change holders.That loss is on BK. Regardless, the continued turnovers in the losses to Az.St. and the loss of too many key players leading up to Louisville aren’t on BK. I also wonder what this team would be like with Malik as QB.
    But watching the comeback vs. AZ.St. and the second half three TDs vs. Louisville, a top college D’,
    despite the poor first halves of EG in those two games, explains to me why BK has stayed with EG.
    BK didn’t worry about EGs feelings the times he pulled him during the 2012 season for Rees when he felt it was necessary for the win, which did result in wins.
    Coaches are most accountable for playing who they judge gives them the best chance to win that game.
    Then, after a loss, what’s most important is winning your next game. Maybe Malik could be the difference in L.A.
    But I can understand how Kelly believes his best shot to win next week is still with Everett.
    I can also understand how Kelly is our best shot as ND coach for the next couple of years or so.
    Four loss seasons each over the next two years, or maybe even three in 2016, and he’ll choose to be gone.
    As an ND fan, I’m hoping those losses won’t happen- and that this November nightmare ends Saturday evening.

  11. Scott, this is probably the worst and most uninsightful articles you have ever done. It only did what all media does and that is stir up controversy. I was so tempted to unsubscribe after reading it. After reading some of the other comments from people who actually know what they’re talking about it has made me curious to see what else you have to say. Your signature says you talk football 24 hrs. a day and I can respect that. My warning is that you don’t get so wrapped up in it that you lose perspective. Let’s face it, most media in general on any subject, has a lost sense of reality because they’re all “wrapped up in it”. I’m not insulting your intelligence, but I just think you missed the mark on this one.

  12. You won’t have a successful program firing the coach every time the fan base gets a wild hair up their ass. Has BK made mistakes, yep but he has done a good job and may have the program trending in the right direction. Let’s at least let one coach end their contract before the fan base looks for the next Savior of the program. Saban, Meyer or Stoops isn’t coming through the door. Kelly is who ND has and it’s who ND will have until either his contract runs out or he leaves on his own.

  13. Ted, high, dry, conference champions and with a Sugar Bowl Berth, and not to confuse this with any facts, a quarterback, Zach Collaros, who was ready to play when Tony Pike went down.

    And while you are at it, ted h, I would like a well-nuanced comparison outling how Kelly left cincinnatti “high and dry” but Leahy did not leave Boston College “high and dry” ara did not leave Northwestern “high and dry” and Holtz did not leave Minnehaha “high and dry.” Did those three actually leave their prior teas “low and wet?”

  14. its simplethe keys to leadership:
    1. develop trust and credibility
    2. share the vision with absolute clarity
    3. be there to help them succeed – coaching, mentoring, communicating, and listening
    4. make the decisions and be accountable*

    kelly has failed on all these counts

    go offer saban $7.5 million a year for five years

    otherwise join the ivy leagues and give up

      1. Can you imagine if that happened, in reality? Can you imagine the headlines?

        “Notre Dame offers Nick Saban $7.5MM contract for 5 years. Saban laughed so hard he had a stroke and died.”

        While we’re at it, I’d like to take Megyn Kelly camping.

  15. He may make everyone feel better including Christian Lombard! You can always put Golson back in if it goes south with MZ. Just saying its worth a shot Burgundy thats all.

  16. Love the genius comments that assume MZ is not ready nor a good QB because he messed up a few holds. He shouldn’t be in there doing that anyway unless maybe its a fake. Kelly wouldn’t think of that though. Maybe Malik asked to tryout that position cause he wants to get out there anyway he can? Any who’s saying he is going to transfer cause he got yelled at by the kick queen? C’mon. If Kelly has any balls he should have named MZ the starter today in practice vs USC. Whats to lose? Oh another lose, doesn’t really matter now does it? Give the kid a shot, he may suprise everyone!

    1. You’re thinking like a fan who has 10, 20, 30 or 40 years left of these games. Ask Christian Lombard what’s left to lose. The guys playing in their final game vs USC ever want to win. The coaches job is to win games now. If he thinks EG gives the team and players the best chance to win then that is who plays. His job is not to get MZ ready for next year because it will make you feel better.

      1. I have never been sure why you post so many of the comments you do Ron as for the most part they “seldom” seem to have any value other then wasted attempts at humour. However on the RARE occassion that you do address a comment with some form of FOOTBALL related response I find myself often agreeing with your point of view (I cannot believe I am acturally saying this). Your response to “greenday” above being a case in point. The bottom line for ALL coaches in a sport where they are paid to win is simple. The coaches job is to WIN NOW because if they don’t someone else will be making the decision of who plays and who doesn’t. Credit where it is due RB I am in your corner on this one. Have a beer on me mate, My SHOUT. Cheers

    2. Green I mentioned he may be thinking of a transfer but not because he got yelled at..The kid wants to play. I just raised the question of whether he believes he is getting a fair shake or not. I don’t believe he is..if he believes that too he very well may be looking around for a new home.

      I can tell you one thing, MZ wasn’t in the game when Brindza was shanking punts.

  17. Accountability. TO ME, you’re accountable for what you’ve done. I think it was a clever way to try and link the “Count on me” mantra to a more official theme. But I prefer ACHIEVEMENT. Achieve the future, don’t look in the rear-view mirror. Either way, though I respect the effort Golson made, SIT HIM DOWN AND ACHIEVE THE FUTURE. DEVELOP MALIK.

  18. Where were all of you great coaches when the Irish were looking for a new head coach? Didn’t they like your resume? You don’t like what Kelley is doing? Call the cops.

    1. I didn’t go very far in school but not sure what calling the cops would accomplish. I do however like your spunk and zeal. Great effort for a first timer. Looking forward to more of these useless posts from you in the future. Welcome aboard laddie!

      1. I don’t need any blessing from some “Mary” who thinks he is welcoming me to his personal playground here. Not sure why you even respond to what people post here as I’m sure you are just as ignored in life.

      2. Now that’s more like it. You are hereby warded your first badge of courage. Keep them coming JL, very entertaining and thought provoking.

    1. In my opinion, that has a good chance of happening. Florida has the bucks to make that happen if he’s their man.
      BK would be a good fit for Florida.

  19. All of this talk about MZ and wondering if he is ready to play at the collegiate level. One spring game is all we’ve seen. How does anyone know about MZ? Wasn’t this guy a four star recruit? Doesn’t that count for something? It’s clear the Irish aren’t gong anywhere this year. At least he could get a few snaps to get some experience. Is that asking too much?

  20. Most of these comments are enough to wanna deny that I follow the Irish. Where were all of you when they were choosing a coach? Weren’t YOU good enough with your “know it all” comments?

  21. Yes but most coaches would play him if their starter committed 20 turnovers. He’s probably thinking he’ll never get a chance with Kelly as long as EG is there.

    Plus you got that Brimbush coming now too.

    I hope he stays but I’d understand if he left also.

    It all really has to do with perception right? He sees EG turning the ball all over the place, plus has an injured shoulder..He’s got to be wondering if he’s getting a fair shake or just being used like a pawn over some coaches ego.
    Even if EG is your man, MZ needed to be put in games under pressure because he’s your backup and if you are on a roll to a great season an injury to EG and then come the excuses again.
    Ohio State loses Braxton Miller and JT Barrett a freshman takes over..Guess what OS has a chance at the playoffs.
    If ND didn’t have Tommy Rees they would have never made it to the NC.
    It’s kind of strange actually because most other places BK has coached he has platooned QBs so it’s kind of weird why he doesn’t continue that practice. The way QBs get injured these days it makes sense to give your backup some meaningful playing time.
    Like I said I hope MZ stays but I’d be surprised if he’s atleast not looking at Gunner Keil and thinking he could be playing somewhere else.

    1. Good point re: a possible EG injury. They do happen. Ask Dayne Crist.

      MZ should have been getting reps for just that reason alone.

      1. Hey Paddy, can we please address the obvious bias towards FSU that the committee is showing. Undefeated and defending champs not ranked #1. Do they have something against native Americans?
        The ND bias is one thing but please, as our resident rankings expert, address this travesty.

      2. RB

        You’ll probably see the bias once the play-offs start. This FSU team is nowhere near the team that beat Auburn and now they have a gimpy QB.
        They do know how to win and so far have overcome mistakes but eventually that catches up with a team, especially when they play a playoff caliber team.

      3. I’m more concerned about Marshall. Is there some bias toward unnamed animals? And Thundering Herd of what exactly?

        Then I realized they have NO SIGNATURE WINS…

      4. Anyone catch the Raider-Chiefs game? By the way RaidawNation behaved, you’d think they’re in the thick of the playoff hunt. Rather than 0-10! ZERO WINS, TEN LOSSES.

        Filling the stadium with their enthusiasms. True fans.

  22. If I was MZ I’d seriously consider doing what Gunner Keil did. I mean if you have a QB that has all those turnovers and there are no consequences that tells me in his place that the coach doesn’t practice what he preaches. A QB with all those turnovers does not give you your best chance to win. They were lucky to win some of the games they did win but now in the meat of the schedule playing against better teams the turnovers are taking a heavy toll.
    Maybe Zaire isn’t the one, but maybe he is. We won’t ever know until he gets a chance. I know one thing. If he plays and the offense still scores thirty some points and he doesn’t turn the ball over,and ND wins, BK will get all kinds of questions about continually saying EG was the best chance to win..I hope that isn’t a reason MZ hasn’t been given the chance.

    1. Why would he transfer? He’d have to sit out next year before he could play. Either he sits out or backs up EG. Either way he still gets 2 years to play. Wouldn’t you rather play at ND versus a MAC school?

      1. He was recruited by several SEC teams also. I’m sure the University of Florida would love to have him.

  23. I agree with the post above that this mess comes down to the coaching staff. The play this year has been SLOPPY more than anything else – in every single phase of the game. And honestly, it’s been that way for a decade… Kelly and his staff have done nothing to clean it up. Special teams is an unmitigated disaster in every aspect, tackling, alignment, and technique are all horrible on defense, and the offensive line is inconsistent at best.

    This is simply a level of sloppiness you do not see from elite teams with elite coaches. You just don’t. When was the last time you’ve seen a Nick Saban coached team play a stretch like this? Never. That’s the answer. You’ve never seen it. And let’s be honest – he’s not working with the sharpest tools in the shed either. There aren’t many players on his team that would qualify academically for entry to Notre Dame.

  24. EG gives the team the “best chance to win” huh? Only problem is they are not winning. The turnovers are big reason they aren’t winning. Louisville minus 7 points they scored after the interception and voila, a ND win. Golson should have been pulled when his turnover count was 9 in 3 games. I refuse to believe Malik is so bad that EG amidst a record setting turnover pace is still the best option. BK himself said Zaire looked fantastic in practice last week. Zaire battled Golson to then end of training camp. He can play. Give him and this team a freaking chance my god! BK’s stubbornness is showing again and it’s not good. He has a confused, frustrated team. Hunter Smith mishandled 2 snaps in a monsoon and gets yanked, after years as the holder? Redfield misses a bad tackle and can’t get on the field instead of a beat up Collinsworth and a lost Tranquil? Greg Bryant had ZERO carries Saturday meanwhile Louisville ran the ball with 4 different running backs?? ND had 156 yards rushing on 20 carries. Why not 300 yards rushing on 40 carries?? WTF is going on inside these coaches heads? I’ve never heard the tactic of the best talent watching from the sidelines actually working for teams. Tough to watch this team unravel like this. The freshman are competing on a decimated defense and that’s all that can be asked. ND isn’t getting blown out of games. The turnovers though lead directly to points why is all that matters at the end of games, point total. Stop the bleeding BK!!

    1. Your handle describes you perfectly. If you have war paint on and are riding a horse as you say this it would be a scene right out of Braveheart.

      1. Sorry but deep frustration has set in all the way here in Maryland. Getting tired of the mantra “wait til next year”.. I recall yelling this to top of my lungs after 2009 with Clausen, Armando Allen, Golden Tate, Mike Floyd and Kyle Rudolph coming back on offense. I overlooked the fact that Weis had recruited juco level talent on defense and they couldn’t stop a pee wee league offense on their best day. A defense that made Tate Forcier a househould name after one game. *Big sigh* I’m a fan nonetheless and will be cheering regardless. Go Irish!

  25. Does anybody doubt that we would have beaten NW, UL, and maybe ASU if the defense that beat UM and played FSU tough was still intact? I don’t. When would you have had BK put in Malik? If we were getting beat by 3 tds and only scoring 14 pts, then it would make sense to change QBs. Every game has been close and winnable. We have scored 28 pts or more in every game. Suppose he had put Zaire in the game to start the second half. one of three things would have happened:

    1. MZ goes 3 and out. UL maybe scores since we weren’t stopping them, but let’s say they don’t and we get the ball. You have to give MZ another chance and he goes nowhere. You put EG back in, the game ends the way it did and all the know-nothings that wanted MZ would crucify BK for wasting two series on MZ.
    2. MZ leads a nice drive, but no score. Now you have to give him a couple of more series and you lose by 2 tds.
    3. MZ leads the team to a win. Good luck with that happening.

    Defense has been responsible for most of our losses. It changed the minute Schmidt went down. BVG instituted a complex, dynamic and attacking defense that needed an experience LB to run. We had safeties blitzing, tackles and ends in pass protection, etc. He had two LBs – Schmidt and Moore. Moore gets tossed and Schmidt gets hurt and now we are playing with freshmen. . BVG has been trying to run a vanilla defense. Won’t work at this level

    As for the oline and the running game, KState beat UWV and had one yard rushing.

  26. I hope that Zaire will hang in there. I thought he looked better in the spring game. He made good decisions. If Golson hasn’t learned from his mistakes by now, he never will. 20 turnovers in eight games is unheard of. As talented as he is, I get nervous every time he touches the ball. He’s a loose cannon with no accountability. Give Zaire a shot. Now is the time!

  27. I don’t know that the Northwestern game was the worst loss under BK: The collapse against Tulsa in 2010 to put ND under .500, the week after the loss of Declan Sullivan, was a low point I hope we never have to experience again under BK or any coach.

  28. By pulling even for mz you would be rewarding poor play. MZ has yet to show he can handle snaps consistently at the holder position.What makes you think that he could do any better at qb. Another reason this gets a little more complicated is that MZ is left handed so our old trouble would probably increase.

    1. there are lots of quarterbacks that couldn’t handle snaps on the kicking team and that does not equate with his ability as a quarterback. Remeber his first play as QB in a game resulted in a 56 yard run.

      1. 2 games were lost on turnovers. The FSU game was not lost on turnovers and I really think the Louisville game wasn’t lost on turnovers.

        I thought both games were lost because the defense couldn’t get crucial stops and allowed both teams to march down the field on multiple occasions. ASU and NU were turnover fests so I can say that was the issue.

  29. Look at the statistics. The offense averages 34.7 ppg. Their lowest point total was 17 in a win against Stanford. So the job is being done on that side of the ball despite turnovers. The defense is decimated from injuries and suspensions. Now your stud kicker has caught a case of the shanks. These things will eventually catch up with you in the win loss column. The one knock that I have on Kelly is that it seems he does have one loss every season to a team that they should beat. This year it was Northwestern (5-6). Their wins this season are not against world beaters. Here is who they beat: Rice (7-4), Michigan (5-6), Purdue (3-8), Syracuse (3-8), Stanford (6-5), UNC (6-5) and Navy (5-5). A win over USC would put USC at 7-5 for the season. 3 of 4 losses were by single digits that came from a combination of bad luck, bad calls and bad execution. The one bad loss was to ASU and they managed to make a push in that game to make it competitive with 6 minutes left before the wheels fell off again, If ND finishes 8-4 and goes to a mid tier bowl then that is what they deserve being that they haven’t beaten the 9-2, 10-1 teams and deserve to go to a higher tier bowl. Everyone like me wanted this to be the year even though we all knew they were 1-2 years off. Do I think ND should be a 10-2, 9-3 team this year and playing in a higher tier bowl? Absolutely, but you can’t control injuries and when your defense can’t consistently get stops you put your QB in do-or-die situations in games then that is when turnovers happen. Golson is being put under the pressure to score touchdowns on every drive because the defense can’t make stops and the kicking game is having problems.

    1. Not necessarily, when the offense scores 34.7 points a game but with turnovers continually puts the defense and a young one at that in untenable conditions by either fumbles close to the goal line or multiple turnovers that keep the defense on the field for a long time, it’s the offense that lost the game..points are just one part of winning a game.

  30. While I agree Kelly needs to start holding EG accountable, and this is a horrible year coaching for him, that is not the sole reason they are in the position they are. They played Sat with 2 players on defense that were slotted as starters at the beginning of camp. 2. They are trying to win with a 2nd string defense. Not going to happen. Plus, some of the blame needs to be on ND fans, alum, and administration. Everyone threw a fit when Kelly would get in his players faces and hold them “accountable”. That’s his style of holding players accountable. ND nation has become Disney and won’t tolerate that “behavior”. So Kelly changed to survive at ND. These are the results.

    1. I agree with BK’s change in coaching style. He is who he is. He had a lot of success with his coaching style in the past.

      I always say people forget Lou Holtz grabbing player’s facemasks and screamed at them when they screwed up. He wasn’t always the likable grandfatherly type he is opposite Mark May (although I’d probably have a favorable opinion of Satan compared to Mark May).

    2. Why am I, as a ND fan, expected to have any blame?

      I expect BK not to be a hypocrite. If he wants accountability from his players, he needs to be accountable himself and stop throwing them under the bus. So that’s my fault?

      You have a defense that has a lot of talented but young players. They’re in a system that’s too complicated for them. Too many times they’re out of position of are hesitant because they’re unsure of themselves. BVG isn’t making the proper adjustments to his players strengths and weaknesses. That’s my fault?

      The O-Line has been a big disappointment this year. Hiestand hasn’t lived up to his billing despite having the unit with arguably the most talent and depth. So that’s my fault?

      Explain to me exactly what is my fault and not the fault of coaches who are making millions of dollars per year.

  31. This defense is driving me nuts. I know that there’s a lot of youngsters. I also know that this year they were going to have to rely on the offense to win some shoot-outs. But the players constantly being out of position is something that has to be remedied.

    I like Austin Collingsworth and Joe Schmidt. But if guys that lack the athleticism to compete at the upper levels are that valuable to your system and scheme, then you have the wrong system and scheme.

  32. the keys to leadership:
    1. develop trust and credibility
    2. share the vision with absolute clarity
    3. be there to help them succeed – coaching, mentoring, communicating, and listening
    4. make the decisions and be accountable*

    1. I believe that if life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade … And try to find somebody whose life has given them vodka, and have a party. — Ron White

  33. I think it’s a good article as well. I offer a few other points along the way.

    – It’s time to retire the wide receiver screen. It’s not fooling anybody. Okay maybe once a game but after that… Louisville certainly wasn’t surprised.
    – I pin this loss on the coaching staff. The last touchdown by the Cardinals the defensive line was shuffling all over the place right up until the snap. Everybody in the building knew that a running play was coming but the defense was not prepared. Call a time out and get yourselves organized.
    – Is it impossible for Notre Dame to establish a power running game? I am sure they have the right guy in Folston but for some reason the Offensive line is not executing.
    – Whatever became of Greg Bryant? He almost ran back a punt for a touchdown. The he disappeared for the rest of the game. I don’t get it. At the very least he could have been given a chance to run back a few more kicks.
    – Jaylon Smith is definitely a warrior.

    With a heavy heart I say one more time Goooo Irish!

  34. Best article on ND this year.

    I really don’t get Golson’s attitude nor do I get Brindza’s. (or Kelly’s)

    Playing poorly can bring out the worst in people but for the coaching staff not to keep their promise of “accountability” and allow Brindza’s tirade to a freshman creates a whole other dimension to the tension. Time to let the Zaire play and let Golson fend for himself in the world of – transfer or not, if you’re not happy – sad but true.

    1. If Zaire can’t handle a simple heated exchange between himself and a kicker, then maybe “he” should be the one transferring because being the starting QB for The Fighting Irish of Norte Dame is going to require a hell of a lot thicker skin, and level headed thinking, than that!

      Sad, but true.

      1. It’s not the handling of a heated exchange, it’s the blaming another player for your mistakes. That creates a toxic atmosphere and divides a team and a team divided isn’t a team, it’s a group of individuals doing their own thing. But then, If I say red, you say grey in almost all your posts in reply.

      2. Red and Gray are Ohio State colors.
        How about if you say Blue and I say Gold?

        Most of your posts are opinion based.

        Now it’s great to hold ones’ own opinion in high regard.
        I would expect nothing less.

        But when it comes to expressing opinion…. you stick with yours and I’ll stick with mine.

        And… in my opinion… what creates a toxic atmosphere is repeated mistakes, a lack of intensity, and missing leadership.

        And… in my opinion… what creates a toxic atmosphere is repeated mistakes, a lack of intensity, and missing leadership.

        This is football, not jersey housewives.

        I like some yelling on the sidelines,
        I like players getting into other players faces.
        I like when a fight or two breaks out in practice.
        I like a team with some attitude.

        And with only a few days to get ready for SoCal they had better find that attitude in a hurry…. because they’re gonna need it!

      3. I don’t think the issue is whether Zaire can take it. I haven’t heard any complaints from him. But that doesn’t make it right. If a player wants to mentor another, that’s fine, good in fact. Players can be teachers too. But players shouldn’t be yelling at fellow players, that’s on the coaches.

        I agree with the article. Right now it seems there is no accountability on EG. If the coaching staff is doing things behind the scenes, it’s not working. I’m not saying Zaire should be the starter necessarily. But when EG struggles he should get a chance to prove himself. I mean, really, at this point what do you have to lose? How many points you’re going to lose a game by. I’d give Zaire some meaningful playing time. He is going to be the starter one day. Might as well give him some practice against opposing teams.

  35. There are many areas of concern on both sides of the football, but as far as the QB situation, this article is spot on! Bottom line, Kelly is just not going to give MZ a shot next week or next year.

  36. Why call for Kelly to be put on the hot seat next year? In case you haven’t noticed, 9 freshmen have been brought in on the defense, and all have been serious contributors this year. Due to injuries, they took the red shirt off yet another freshman, and required him to perform this past week. Kelly shouldn’t be on the hot seat as a coach. That is just an asinine statement. What should happen, is some real evaluation on this program and realize that this ND squad is so young, so talented, that we have come to expect greatness based on Kelly’s coaching performances over the recent past, and we need to walk away with the realization that 18/19 year old kids can only do so much when they are faced with the task of playing against squads stacked with starting seniors. I take my hat off to both Kelly and VanGorder for what they have been able to do this year.

    If anything, I’m disappointed that Kelly hasn’t pulled the plug on Golson. But we don’t see what he sees every day in practice. We don’t see what Zaier is capable of, and what he isn’t. I was disappointed that Zaier didn’t start the 2nd half, but that surely doesn’t deserve Kelly on the hot seat starting next year. The season is lost, and I’d like to see Zaier get some time against USC. If that doesn’t happen, then I’ll still root for the Irish. I’ll trust a guy who has turned around numerous programs, and is doing the same thing for ND. I’ll trust a D-Coordinator who has been at the next level and knows what to expect from those kids every week. I’ll trust their judgment. They’ve been there and done that, and unlike you, Scott, they will do what they can to win. I’m very much looking forward to the next couple years. Why? Because we have a very solid coach who knows what it takes to win. Hot seat… give me a break.

      1. Everyone is laying freshman. USC is playing four freshman on the offensive line. Half of the Norhwestern team was out. Ohio State payed a third stringer at QB. This season was a coaching disaster on both sides of the ball. Ironically they could have won three of the losses if VanGorder could have figured out how to get a stop. The defense collapsed and so did VanGorder. The offensive line coach failed to protect and block. The coaches lost the team and the AD needs to find out what happened. Zaire should start and Kelly should run the read option but he won’t because he is either arrogant or stubborn. He should inform Golson that he should prepare for the daft or transfer. Finally, ND should not be going to any bowl game with a team that has lost its way. It could be another embarrassment.

      2. It’s difficult to read how you feel Deebster. You like to keep your feelings close to the vest and I appreciate that. However, whether or not freshmen get laid is a bit personal.

  37. Great article. Golson has some great skills but it doesn’t matter if you turn the ball over constantly. Unfortunately the one thing Golson is consistent at is turning the ball over. He’ll never be an NFL quarterback with that hanging over his head. He himself has more turnovers than whole teams in college football.
    I think Kelly doesn’t want Zaire in because he’ll end up as the starter and the prima donna Golson appears to be, he’ll want a transfer..

  38. With the way the O-Line has been playing, Keeping Zaire out might actually be a show of mercy.

    Ronnie Stanley continues to get beat quite easily and quite frequently by the outside speed rush.
    ND calls a QB draw down inside the red zone and the one block that you must absolutely have is the block by the center, and once again Hegarty gets completely blown up.
    That’s HIS play…. and he completely whiffs….. again.
    That was embarrassing.

    For some reason everyone wants to give O-Line coach Harry Heistand a pat on the back. For what?

    That guy hasn’t shown me shit.

    Player development has been poor. Their technique is awful, their mentality is weak, and their confidence is shot.
    We’re not talking about a bunch of freshmen and sophomores here. He has had these guys for a while now.

    And he is allowed to go into the season not even knowing who his starting 5 will be or where they will line up?
    Get rid of him. He hasn’t got a clue. He wasting talent.

    Want to change the QB? Then change out the O-line as well. Let them live or die out on the fields as a team… next year’s team.

    I don’t know who Matt LaFluer is or what he does, but if in fact he is supposed to be a QB back coach he has failed miserably.
    What I see in Golson is a player who has steadily regressed. His poise, his confidence, his desire, his ability to improve.
    This LaFluer guy hasn’t got a clue. Get rid of him.

    I don’t know who Scott Booker is but if he is supposed to be the special teams’ coach then he has failed miserably as well.
    Forget about Kickoff and punt returns for TD’s.
    How about just the basics.
    Cleanly fielding a kick off or punt.
    A good snap, set and hold, on the PAT and field goal attempt.
    Blocking, coverage, and tackling.

    Can’t coach the basics? Find someone who can.

    I know Kelly likes to hire coaches he feels comfortable with, but it appears to me, that some have become a bit too comfortable…. or they just don’t know how to coach at this level.

    1. Agree with virtually everything you said. Hiestand is supposed to be an O-Line guru. It’s true that he’s brought in talented personnel but, as you say, he hasn’t done sh*t with them.

  39. This is the worst article of all time. You’re focussing on one position b/c you’re a fair weather fan who. What about all the positions where he has held accountability? Safety with Max Redfield? Running Backs position with Folston/Bryant/McDaniel? Moving players and changing players on the Offensive Line? So just because you only pay attention to the QB position, to say that the entire program doesn’t hold “fairness” is irresponsible as a writer. What would you be writing if Zaire came in and threw 2 INT’s right away? Golson did lead us back in the 2nd half so clearly it was a good decision to leave him in. Not sure why that wasn’t brought up. Has Golson been sloppy this year? Yes. In his 2nd year playing college football, he’s been going through pains that most qb’s go through. Also, Golson has had about 37 TD’s this year total. How many QB’s have we had that have had more than that? Have a good day, “ND reporter”.

    1. I think your comment proves my point. Why is Golson exempt from accountability when other players have had to sit? You can’t have it both ways. You either impose accountability or you don’t. If you selectively enforce it, it’s a great way to create problems on a team.

      Thanks for the comment.

      1. I am in TOTAL agreement Scott. Golson is NOT accountable. Never has been.When Kelly becomes accountable perhaps the rest of the team will. What happened to the team that acutaaly beat Florida State? They’ve disappeared. I submit the whole slide is on Kelly and his arrogant attitudes.

      2. “You either impose accountability or you don’t. If you selectively enforce it, it’s a great way to create problems on a team.”

    2. Henighan – you clearly haven’t watched Notre Dame this season and you clearly didn’t understand Janssen’s post.

      1. Kelly must be let go
        now. This is not brain surgery. Look at Ohio State. The QB rolls out and throws to the open receiver. Almost anyone can do it. Kelly can’t make a decision, has lost control, and I have to question if he ever had control. Football should be fun especially at this level. At ND it is defeatist, mistake ridden work. Let him go. Get Meyer!

  40. Kelly is a hack. He talks the talk but does not walk the walk. He left his last team high and dry and will likely do the same at ND.

    1. There has never been a coach in the history of coaching who didn’t leave one job for another. That’s how it works.

      1. It matters if they are asked to leave or leave on their own. I love all this fire BK stuff, who the hell is ND hiring? To fire Kelly would set the program back another 10 years.

    2. Ted H. summed it up. Lost all respect for him after what he did leaving the the U.C. program. I don’t think anyone begrudges him for taking the N.D. job, it’s just the way he did it. Don’t ever see him leaving N.D. unless they show him the door, but you know what they say about karma. Just a matter of how long before the administration gets tired of Kelly’s act.

  41. scott, your article assumes two things.
    1. there is no other way for EG to be held accountable other than to pull him from games.
    2. that zaire is ready to be thrown into the fire.
    If item two isn’t satisfied, then the coaching staff needs to get creative with item one.
    at this point, i’m sure that zaire and golson are not interchangeable. and in a contest where ND is losing by as much as they were, that the coaching staff feels they must win, and where the margin for error is so small, EG is still their best bet.
    maybe it is time to get zaire ready, really ready, like a majority of snaps with the first team during practice, but even then i’m not sure even that will happen.
    complain all you want about accountability, as a coach myself i know there are ways to make my star players hurt, and get them to focus, while at the same time leaving them in games as they are still my best shot at winning games. we were all told that EG was going to need to carry this team at the onset of the season. not the defense, not the offense, EG. he was our magician. our heavy-lifter. our guy. we will win by the sword and die by the sword, but we will use that sword. because at the end of the day the only thing that matters, is wins and losses. especially at ND. there are teachable/coachable moments and then there is cutting off your nose to spite your face. and pulling EG at this point is most definitely the latter…

    1. Joe,

      Some good points but as a coach, do you agree with Kelly giving Zaire no first team reps all year, and no game time, so that he is not even an option when Golson struggles? For this seems to be the case here. All the people like yourself who say – we are stuck with Golson because Zaire doesn’t have the reps – you are right. But it begs the question: is that where we should be?

    2. Joe – I think that your words on the matter just hung Scott Janssen out there for HIS ACCOUNTABILITY in writing a proper article.

    3. Joe as a coach have you ever had a starting QB fumble the ball as many times as Golson. You ever had a player just turn and walk away when you were talking to him.

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