The off-season at Notre Dame during the tenure of Head Coach Brian Kelly has been consistently problematic, and most would consider that description to be too lenient. The list of issues seemingly grow on a yearly basis, and although other power five programs have been branded with the same moniker, it feels different when it happens University of Notre Dame.
Sadly though, over the last five plus years, it has been happening all too often, and it is no longer shocking or surprising when the latest derogatory headline drops, but rather is expected.
In the latest turn of events, Irish quarterback Everett Golson has decided that it is in his best interest to transfer to Florida State for a chance to be the Seminole starting quarterback. Presumably the same chance that Golson had at Notre Dame. On the surface it is easy to look at the Golson decision and categorize it under normal, since kids transfer all the time. In this case though we have a young man who was given the ultimate leash in 2014 amidst some occasional horrific play behind center. And lest we forget also that Notre Dame is the same school that gave Golson a second shot at redemption after his “poor academic decision”. Yet he still came to the conclusion that transferring was his best option, and doing so, has us questioning whether it was truly a decision to better himself, or was he not the “right kind of guy” to begin with?
If you have followed Notre Dame football at all with Brian Kelly at the helm(and we are sure you have) than you have a full understanding of the off-the-field issues that have plagued the Irish football program during that time. The list of enigmatic discrepancies is long, with many coming to a disingenuous resolution, and it begs to question where does the problem stem from? Fielding a competitive team in 2015 at a major college football power is no different than assembling a competitive company in the workforce. When you compile a group of talented, fiery, competitive individuals, some individuals will ultimately show patterns of poor decision making, regardless of the time spent subjecting that individual to a psychological scrubbing of their integrity. A head coach and his staff are never going to be perfect in their evaluation of the young men they bring into the program, and most fans understand that, but at what point do we start to question the evaluation process more, and the subject less?
As fans from the stands, we view these young men as adults, as we witness the impacting violence they impose on their opponent on weekly basis. As with many of us though, they still require strong leadership and positive role models to be present– even in their late teens, or early twenties. When you take into consideration the amount of pressure that these athletes deal with not only on the field, but in the classroom, and in public, it can easily blur the lines of what is right, and what is easy. It is incumbent upon each university, and even more so at Notre Dame, to impose the importance of integrity and personal accountability in all phases during their attendance. We as fans like to promote Notre Dame as forty year decision, not a four year one, but is that truly how it is viewed internally by the coaching staff and certain administrators?
It is easy to view the academic indiscretions over the last few years, as simply kids making bad decisions. When you look at the amount of improprieties though that have taken place under the Brian Kelly’s’ umbrella since 2010 it includes multiple transfers, academic indiscretions, player decommittments, legal off-the-field issues, and more. As with any company that shows consistent issues with personnel, at what point do you start to focus on the management group, and their decision making and leadership skills, and whether they are right for your company?
It may be unrealistic to expect a head coach and his staff to be able to control the likes of 80-plus young adults, and their whereabouts and daily routine, but that is exactly what is expected at the University of Notre Dame. Some would describe that expectation as arrogant, but I would define it much differently. Honestly though I think fans are understanding of the occasional issue with a program, but it feels like what the transgressions that have permeated the Irish football program since 2010 under Brian Kelly, has crossed the proverbial line of acceptance.
The university promotes the idea that they are very meticulous about who is admitted into the Notre Dame football program as a student-athlete, but it would seem that the same type of scrutiny and rigidness need be applied to the leaders of these young men. The whole situation is mired in hypocrisy, but oddly it seems that the young men who help fill the stadium on Saturday, and the bank accounts to all who are involved, are held to a higher standard.