I probably should have blogged about this on Friday, after the official Brian Kelly press conference, but I have some thoughts on the first week of the Brian Kelly regime in South Bend.
First, his press conference was great – the guy is very articulate and came across as confident, not arrogant. You can tell Kelly has a political background by how he speaks and the way he deals with the media. Kelly has been on a media roadshow ever since taking the job – I have heard him on PTI, Mike & Mike, the Dan Patrick Show, ESPN Radio, and AM 670 in Chicago. In every one of his interviews the message was the same – he wants players who will be tough and play all 4 quarters. His promise is he will develop his players. This is in stark contrast to Weis, who claimed to have a schematic advantage in every game. Weis came across as arrogant and smug in his press conference and these were labels he carried throughout his time at ND. Kelly came across as completely different. I especially liked when asked about the talent on the current roster, here is how he responded:
“Does it matter? I mean, it really doesn’t matter. These young men want to win, and that’s why I’m here at Notre Dame. I want to be around men that are committed, and we can’t trade anybody. There’s no waiver wire. We’re going to develop our players, and they’re going to play their very best for us. That to me has always been the most important principle. Let’s go; don’t tell me what you don’t have; I don’t want to know about it. Tell me what you can do to help us win. And that’s the way we’ll hit this thing running.”
I love this statement – this is what Kelly has done his entire coaching career, figure out how to win with what you have.
I have read a ton about Kelly – before and after his hiring. Former players say he was the toughest coach they have ever played for, obsessed with winning, almost a tyrant when it comes to conditioning his players in practice. This is exactly what Notre Dame football needs. They need a guy who can be a great face to the media and a win-at-all-costs dictator to his team.
As positive as everything is with Kelly, I still have some concerns. Will he be able to handle to bright spotlight? Kelly has never dealt with public pressure like this in his coaching career. Will it tire him out? Will he bring in assistants that can handle working at a top program?
Right now, I am hopeful. I think Jack Swarbrick made a great hire. No one will really know until probably next November. Weis had the ability to get his teams through September and October but his teams fell apart in November. Will Kelly train his teams to be tough, especially as games get more important in late November? We have no reason to think he can’t.