“You better get used to it,” is a quote Brian Kelly may never live down just as Charlie Weis never lived down his “decided schematic advantage” or “9-3 isn’t good enough”. Kelly uttered those words defiantly following Notre Dame’s shocking loss to Tulsa that ended with a needless interception from an ill-prepared freshman quarterback in the final minute when all the Irish needed was a field goal to top a 4-3 Tulsa squad.
Six years later, we have gotten used to it. Used to the losses to middling programs who Notre Dame should never lose to. Used to embarrassments on and off the field. And used to a defiant Brian Kelly who seemingly refuses to take responsibility for the state of the Notre Dame game program.
This past week signifies just how “used to it” Notre Dame fans have become. Following yet another loss to an unranked team in which the Irish surrendered a double digit lead, Brian Kelly didn’t exactly inspire much confidence in his comments – especially when he was asked about the vicious hits quarterback Deshone Kizer took that drew no flags.
“I mean, we’re talking about protecting the quarterback. I’ve been on the wrong end of that play now this year at Syracuse and here against Virginia Tech. That was clearly a quarterback that gave himself up and then was hit.
Notice anything wrong with that sentence? I’ll boil it down a bit more.
I’ve been on the wrong end of that play now this year at Syracuse and here against Virginia Tech.
Leaders say “we”, not “I”.
Brian Kelly was not on the wrong end of that call. Notre Dame was on the wrong end of that call. Kelly’s use of “I” instead of “we” is telling. And it’s not new for Kelly when talking to the media. How many times have we heard Kelly talk about his “25 years of experience”?
Maybe some didn’t even notice it since hey, we’ve gotten used to it.
We’ve gotten use to losing games to teams Notre Dame shouldn’t lose to and games the Irish shouldn’t lose. Saturday wasn’t any exception. How many Notre Dame fans felt uneasy even up 17-0 and then 24-7? I know I sure didn’t feel comfortable. A good friend of mine – a Virginia Tech alum – texted me after the 17-0 start with some colorful language regarding his alma mater. My response, was simply “don’t worry, this game is far from over.”
Indeed the game was far from over. Just as the Irish did against Miami, they surrendered 17 point lead. This time they were unable to recapture it and pull out the win in what looked like it would be a walk in the park after the first quarter.
We’re used to surrendering leads and letting teams rip off points in bunches though. Texas scored 17 straight, Michigan State 36 straight, Duke 21 straight, Stanford 17 straight, and Virginia Tech 17 straight. Notre Dame scored first in every contest and led by at least 14 points against Duke, Stanford, and Virginia Tech. Notre Dame lost every contest.
At least when the Irish lost to Virginia Tech, it was an opponent with a strong history who spent a lot of time ranked this season. Of Notre Dame’s seven losses this season, only one opponent is currently ranked in the top 25 – Stanford. Michigan State, NC State, Duke, Navy, Virginia Tech, and Texas all find themselves unranked currently. Texas is reportedly on the verge of firing their head coach, Duke has an identical 4-7 record as Notre Dame, Michigan State sits at 3-8, and NC State heads into this weekend 5-6.
Speaking of NC State, remember when Notre Dame lost to the Wolf Pack earlier this season in a hurricane? Despite horrific playing conditions that made passing the ball damn near impossible, Notre Dame repeatedly called for pass after pass after pass. Deshone Kizer completed just 9 of 26 pass attempts and who have thrown the ball even more as the majority of his 15 rushing attempts were called pass plays.
Kelly defiantly defended the baffling decision following the loss. ““No, I don’t think I would second-guess that,” Kelly said. “We still had 38 carries. I think it was pretty evident to me that we were in need of throwing the football when we did throw it. We just weren’t as effective as I thought we could be.”
Again, we’re used to Kelly defending throwing the ball when it’s clear the Irish need to run it. In last weekend’s loss to Virginia Tech, Kelly again defended his decision to throw it when it was pretty clear the passing game wasn’t clicking in the second half. “If we had to do it all over again, we should have thrown the ball a little bit more,”
Kizer racked up 200 yards in the first half, but was 3 of 15 in the second half. Josh Adams meanwhile ran for 100 yards on just 13 carries thanks to his 67 yard touchdown that put the Irish up 31-21 in the third quarter. Adams carried the ball just two more times the rest of the game. The next three drives for Notre Dame following Adams long run didn’t net a single first down.
But hey, we’re used to it.
If the on the field embarrassments were all Notre Dame fans had have to get used to under Brian Kelly, it would be one thing, but the off the field embarrassments have been mounting for some time.
While this week’s NCAA decision to vacate Notre Dame wins from the 2012 and 2013 seasons was unjust and unfair given how well Notre Dame did handle the situation, it was another in a line of black eyes for Notre Dame under the direction of Brian Kelly.
The Brian Kelly era has had plenty of highs and his mark on the Notre Dame program is undeniable, but neither is his defiant attitude in the face of adversity. As the news broke of the NCAA’s decision to have Notre Dame vacate those wins, Brian Kelly’s response was again telling.
“Zero. None. Absolutely none,” Kelly answered when asked what culpability he felt he had in the matter.
Whatever happened to the buck stops here? Oh wait, that is something a leader who have said.
Notre Dame fans have gotten used to this sort of behavior and attitude from Kelly who has a record of 31-20 since beating USC to cap off that undefeated 2012 season that may end up getting erased from the history books if Notre Dame loses its appeal with the NCAA.
In his last 29 games, Kelly’s record sits at 15-14 or more simply put, the same record that Charlie Weis accumulated over the final 29 games he coached at Notre Dame.
So as the losses mount and the off the field distractions and black eyes continue to pile up, one can’t help but ask when Notre Dame fans can finally stop getting used to it? That time ought to be sooner rather than later, but that would require an about face from Jack Swarbrick who gave Kelly a public vote of confidence last month.
Will Swarbrick learn his lesson from bringing Charlie Weis back in 2009 when it was clear to everyone that Weis was not going to get Notre Dame back to the top? Or will we all be stuck getting used to losses and excuses for another year?