Unfortunately, We’ve Gotten Used to It With Brian Kelly

Photo: Matt Cashore // USA Today Sports

“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.”

For Notre Dame Football Fans, That Dissatisfaction You Feel Is Progress

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.

Notre Dame Football Primer: Irish Seek First Win at Stanford Since '07

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?



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  1. OBH 3 years ago

    Leaders say “we” instead of “I” when things are going well. (We share the success).

    Leaders say “I” instead of “We” when things are going badly. (I own this problem).

    Behind closed doors, a leader holds everyone accountable, but that accountability must start with the leader (I). Kelly’s use of “I” is justified in this case.

    This reply is not intended to defend Kelly as a coach. There is plenty to criticize without inventing reasons for outrage.

    …also it’s been a while since I gave Fronk a hard time.

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  2. G. Adam Stoll 3 years ago

    ND keeps hiring Bob Davie over and over again….

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  3. Mike "King" Kelly 3 years ago

    Didn’t former assistant Clay Helton just destroy us 45-27? Didn’t former assistant Ed Ogreon lead His team to 6 straight wins? Now is the time to be brave and Let Assistant Greg have His big chance!

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  4. Mike "King" Kelly 3 years ago

    Where have all the wins gone
    long time passing
    Where have all the td’s gone
    long, long ago
    When will we ever learn
    The ND Sc rivalry goes way back. Remember Rex Moore of the Trojans scooping up mud and shoving it in Allen Pinketts face mask?

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  5. C-Dog 3 years ago

    Sadly, this is a game the Notre Dame players could have won. The Notre Dame players can compete with anyone. This coaching staff has been disengaged all season.

    Kelly will leave on his own. He’s looking already.

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  6. Mike1983 3 years ago

    I was a BK booster the last few years. Three things have changed my mind:
    1) Hiring BVG to run a too complicated defense, then not parting with him sooner.
    2) The inability of the offense to adjust and produce in the second half this year. This tells me the Mike Sanford hire at OC was a bad hire.
    3) The special teams stinking with a ton of talent. That tells me the special teams coach was another bad hire.
    BK got here with a cast of coaches who were with in his successful years. Now they’ve moved on and BK flopped with all of his most important hires. Can’t fix the team if you can’t hire the right coordinators/coaches.

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  7. Patrick 3 years ago

    Time to make Notre Dame football great again. 4-8? In year 7? Nah, I’ll pass.

    Forget the NFL guys another posted earlier. Rarely does it work. We need a coach who has won a NC in the last decade. Not some super MAC school coach or someone from a past and team.

    We need someone who understands the modern game, the generational mindset and who can restore this crumbling program to something that can compete with the perennials.

    BK ain’t cutting it.

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    1. Ron Burgundy 3 years ago

      Active coaches who have won a NC:

      That’s all folks and none are available.

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      1. bruce johnson 3 years ago

        You have to go get them no one is available but Brian Kelly

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  8. Damian 3 years ago

    Today’s game just caps off the year perfectly. The end of the first half encapsulated everything about the season in less than 1 1/2 minutes. BK is a huge disappointment. When ND hired him, most of us had high hopes. But he is incapable of doing any self evaluation. It’s disheartening to say the least that we are basically back to 2009.

    Where do the Irish turn? Despite BJ’s protestations, unless you kidnap Meyer’s family, he is not coming to ND. Who is that viable coach with a bright future that ND has a realistic shot at? In 2009 at least many of us thought that was BK. ND finally got the guy it wanted on the first try. He wasn’t the 2nd or 3rd choice. But that blew up in our face. When I look out there today, with an honest eye not filled with what ifs and dreams, I’m having a hard time seeing that savior.

    One thing ND will have to do is pony up to pay if it wants to be elite. I think it was Shaz that posted some of the top coaches pay compared to what ND pays and ND pays it’s coaches a fraction of what other schools pay. You’re not going to get top coaches that way. Of course it doesn’t help that they just got done paying Weis off and if they fire BK they will have to pay him off too.

    At the end of the day I’m disgusted. I was a BK believer before this season. Boy was I the fool. Iv

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    1. Damian 3 years ago

      Even worse, I used to argue with guys like SFR and others about why I thought BK was a good coach, right up to the Duke game. Finally my eyes were open and I can see everything so clearly now.

      (Sorry for the split post, my connection seems slow and I accidently posted before I was ready).

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    2. bruce johnson 3 years ago

      You are still a fool if you don’t fight to get the best coach
      You don’t understand the words fighting Irish

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  9. bruce johnson 3 years ago
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    1. Ron Burgundy 3 years ago
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  10. ChrisJ 3 years ago

    In order of my personal opinion….and not knowing if they’d ever come to ND obviously…

    Chris Peterson
    Jon Gruden
    Lane Kiffin
    Josh McDaniel

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    1. jeff 3 years ago

      At the top of your list i would put Tim Walsh. Notre Dame could go back to the triple option and actually start competing with Navy again. Baby steps. Other than that i like your list.

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  11. John Wood 3 years ago

    Just watched the end of the USC game. My impression is the same as it’s been all season. What kind of players are they recruiting? I keep reading about all these outstanding position players and athletes they select but very few seem to know how to tackle. Their response to developing offensive plays is always one or two steps behind the fact. Mental errors aplenty on both offense and defense. Combine these observations with some questionable coaching decisions and you have a perfect storm for the disaster that has been the season.

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  12. Alley O'Cat 3 years ago

    It looked like Jerry Tillery started the game, but Terry Jillery finished it.

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    1. Ron Burgundy 3 years ago

      I see what you did there.

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