Notre Dame dropped to No. 4 in the BCS rankings this week following a nail-biting win over Pittsburgh at home. Don’t feel slighted by the slight demotion Irish fans; your head coach doesn’t.
Irish coach Brian Kelly says he won't use his weekly press conferences to sell his team's right to play for a national title.
Kelly has seen this scenario unfold before. His 2009 Cincinnati team finished 12-0, but didn’t have the street cred to beat out Texas or Alabama for a national championship slot. Notre Dame, despite its much larger reputation in the college football world, might be headed down the same path.
“If you told me that Alabama and Oregon were also undefeated as well as Notre Dame, I’d say well there’s a chance,” Kelly said when asked if he ever imagined an unbeaten Irish team being tagged as a championship third wheel when he took the job in 2010. “Those are teams that have been here and done that. Notre Dame hasn’t done it in a while, and those teams are undefeated too.”
Kelly arrived to the podium a few minutes late for his regularly scheduled noon press conference Tuesday afternoon. The coach said he was busy exercising his right to vote. He then exercised his right to remain silent.
If Kelly feels his team is worthy of a higher position in the polls, he won’t be making any stump speeches to try to convince the rest of the world. No one would listen if he did, the coach said. (Although, he couldn't help but go on to throw a subliminal jab at Alabama and Oregon’s strength of schedule.) Campaigning might be pointless in the current postseason format, but that could change down the road for Kelly when the BCS doubles its championship contenders from two to four.
“The way the BCS is set up right now, if you have more than two undefeated teams you can’t control it. In two years when you have four teams that can play, now you could control things a little bit more and you may be talking more about your team,” he said. “But you can’t now. Maybe in two years you’ll find me talking a lot more about it.”
That would be a change of pace for the Irish coaching staff — a group that has thus far tried to avoid big picture questions while rebuilding a program in South Bend. The most common one, of course, being ‘Is Notre Dame back?’ The school’s first 9-0 start in 19 years drummed up that old debate once again this week. Kelly pleaded the fifth.
“I think it’s measured by everybody else in terms of wins and losses,” he said in regards to his team’s return to prominence. “Our players want to win as well, but I don’t think it’s something that we really spend much time thinking about relative to we’re back or we’re not back. I think we take care of how we play on Saturdays and then we kind of let other people decide whether that’s the case or not.”
- Backup offensive tackle Tate Nichols is likely out of commission for the remainder of the season, Kelly said Tuesday. Nichols, who was second behind right tackle Christian Lombard on the depth chart, injured the posterior cruciate ligament in his knee.
- Irish junior nose guard Louis Nix is back to better health after playing through flu-like symptoms on Saturday. Nix missed practice last week while in the infirmary due to his illness. He was expected to be an emergency only option against Pittsburgh, but played consistently after starter Kona Schwenke injured his shoulder.
- Freshmen safety C.J. Prosise, defensive end Jarron Jones and quarterback Gunner Kiel won’t be on the field this year, but Kelly singled them out as redshirt candidates that have impressed him during practice this fall.
“Gunner’s a competitor, whipping the ball around. He’s a big, physical kid on scout team. I really like watching him play,” he said.