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I'm sure this won't be a popular question amongst us fans, but I wonder if Brian Kelly is in a no-win situation with his football players at this point. We have all noticed that kids today, and athletes especially, are definitely higher maintenance, and much more entitled. In the old days of Notre Dame, kids were willing to wait their turn to start without transferring to the nearest suitor. Today, kids will leave if they even get a whiff of competition at their spot that was unexpected. Many on this board, (Hodges, you get special credit here) have desired for our players to be coached harder and tougher, to get our winning ways back. Hard to disagree after seeing our team quit multiple times under previous regimes. But I wonder if Kelly can truly coach these kids as hard as he wants to without major dissension and fear of kids transferring out of the program. You may say that this is every coaches problem and not just Kelly's and you would be right, but other coaches also don't have some of the built in disadvantages that Kelly has at Notre Dame. Think about it. If you are a kid and you come to ND from California or the South, and you encounter an environment that looks like this: tough academics, crappy weather, not many cute girls, small black student population, small town with little to do....and a coach that is yelling at you and taking no excuses, might you not find it easy to be like "screw this, I'm going some place more fun"?
No doubt we want tough minded players who compete every Saturday, but I am starting to wonder if Kelly is encountering resistance to these tactics based on some of the other difficulties already facing our athletes that they would not have at A LOT of other football programs. So instead, Kelly has to walk a fine line of coddling players to keep them engaged and working hard...maybe just not as hard as he wants.
I am open to thoughts on this. It was just something I started to ponder last night in my idle time.
Would love to hear Lou S and J Sapp's thoughts on this question.
This post was edited by IrishWon 2 years ago
3 time POTW;
I think this is an excellent take. Not necessarily true, but Brian Kelly by most accounts is a son-of-a-b*#@$ (in a good way) to play for. Notre Dame has undeniably become soft over the past few years, and I'm sure Kelly noticed this when he arrived. However, it could very well be the case that his tactics are overwhelming for players who cannot take the verbal criticism. If this were the case I'd tell Brian Kelly to bring the heat and keep it coming. If he weeds out a few guys that are soft so be it. He needs to use whatever style that led to his hiring - an impressive 20 year run as a head coach. I'd argue that Willingham and Weis were soft players' coaches - that worked well.
No other comments on this question? Disappointing
Well, IW, I'll take a crack at it. At first, I didn't want to read this thread. Then I opened it up, saw how long your original post was, and I REALLY didn't want to read it. But I pushed onward. Read it. Wasn't totally sure I was picking up what you were putting down, but upon further review.... I got nothin. kidding. Here goes. While I totally agree with your perception that Kelly has made it a point to 'coach tougher', etc... I hardly feel that this is a hopeless, or no win situation. The possibility exists that, given the latitude, and having the ability to get & keep RKG's, I think he is in the situation to build a no nonsense powerhouse. He'll set the tone with his tough attitude, get the coaching staff and players to buy in, and that the winning will take care of itself. Only the strong survive. Kids that want to win, will tough it out.
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Well put, IW,
I may put some tangents on this, but hopefully I'll address your points....
1) I think we have to be careful with the part-to-whole comparisons, particularly when talking about our kids. For every Lynch, there's a Manti and Tuitt. Perhaps we're more sensitive to this b/c Lynch comes on the back of Tee, Greenberry and Darby. I'm also at a loss as to who left b/c they couldn't start? Certainly not Lynch. Daniels could start on some teams, he's still here. Golson said, on camera, "If I don't start this year, Ill work hard so I can start next year." Could that be blowing smoke? Certainly, but he sure didn't hesitate. The 3 xfers to Charlies program weren't going to contribute to this years team anyway, so I just wish them well and keep moving. Ham is correct, Lynch certainly should've been on the radar as a guy who would have to grow to love ND, just like Stewart did.
2) To directly answer your question, I think Kelly's position is fine for at least the next 2 years. For all those who think Kelly needs to go, they don't get that Kelly is Swarbricks first major hire as AD; as Kelly goes, so does Swarbrick, and I'm convinced Swarbrick is going to give him every opportunity to succeed or fail. Besides, hiring/firing is a 2-way street, and I'm at a loss as to who Swarbrick could convince to come here after cutting bait with his own guy.
3) As for coddling players, I think Kelly (probably w/Swarbrick's blessing) recognized that some cleaning of house was going to be necessary when he got here, so Swarbrick probably isn't worried about how hard Kelly coaches. Did his Grimace (Happy Meal gang; man am i dating myself) impersonation on the sideline wrankle? Perhaps, but nobody seemed to care when Saban was jumping on his ST guy, in the 4th qtr of the national championship game. That was "Saban as fiery competitor, not wanting to give an inch." As Lou has said, we don't see what happens Sun-Fri; as long as those kids know he's got their back, Kelly can say what he wants to them on Saturdays. TJ didn't mind; Jonas talked about how Kelly was the first guy to lift him up. You get a glimpse of how he really is in the seniors comments on this site. Kelly was a demon, did things different, but got them to play better. As for walking a fine line, Kelly said it best: "You know who my guys are"
4). Toughness...u are correct, and folks stipulate how we are limited compared to Bama, yet continue to think that rebuilding at Notre Dame should be the same as at Alabama, while a team that we play every year, and has POUNDED us, is rarely mentioned. Stanford...tough players that are mean and nasty. That's what we want, right? When Harbaugh got there, that was his focus, tough players. It took him 3 years (4-8, 5-7, 8-5) before the breakthrough. After this year, we should get a better idea of the toughness of this team, as it will be composed entirely of Kelly's players. Im hoping this happens here; the difference is, we went 8-5, 8-5 and.... Interestingly, we rarely hear about xfers at Stanford, either.
5) one final point on toughness/Kelly. Everything we do at ND should be about attaining the winning culture that exists at the elite schools, regardless of who the coach is. Obviously, winning begets winning, but the only person in the program associated with winning at this level is the coach. Face it, no upperclassmen has ever won more than 4 games in a row, by my accounting. So if the only person who has experienced winning at this level is the coach, then he has to teach the team how to win. What's missing, if I may be so bold, is the final 10%. At bama, that's what Saban is working on; the kids in his program do the 90% easy: do your assignments. He's just fine-tuning, attention to details. There's a reason that banners talk about attn to detail; theres a reason Alford tells Riddick fumble and you wont play. These guys say they work hard; everyone is all in, but in moments of crisis, you revert to what you know, and that isn't winning with these kids. Penalties at the wrong times, personal fouls by veterans. These kids think they've arrived b/c they won 4 games in a row, then the expectations and pressure ratchet up, and the kids shrink from the challenge. Winning 7-8-9 games in a row won't come until the team develops the mental toughness required to handle the last 10%. I think Kelly would call that Unconscious competence.
(uh-oh, feelin it here)...many folks think this is just about Kelly or Rees. Folks this has been going on for 5 years. Clausen's 2 red-zone turnovers against Navy, penalties at inopportune times go back to Charlie's tenure, and yet folks are shocked that we still do it. It takes time to weed that out of your program, and frankly, I believe if Kelly is getting push-back, its from those few players who just aren't willing to get that extra 10% of effort required to truly be elite.
Sorry for the long-winded response, just one mans thoughts, splattered out there for everyone to see.
Thoughtful post - here's a bit of my take on your post. BK/ND IS fighting a battle against our 'social culture' today - there's a more prevalent 'entitlement attitude' today more so than 25 yrs ago. The 'ME FIRST' attitude exist and that's a fact read/listen to the news or just look around our/your 'world'. In regards to the student/athlete ND's culture is based on the student FIRST then you're an athlete. Hardwork is demanded BOTH in the classroom and the field - not that there isn't other quality institutions that do the same it's just that ND IS a very high profile CATHOLIC university that WILL ALWAYS get big media attention. WHY? Because ND demands high standards and that includes moral standards - it's truely unique more so in today's 'ME FIRST' social culture. The 'right ' recruit usually comes with the 'right' parent(s). I believe that Mr Swabrick hired a very qualified headcoach in BK but it's going to take a bit longer to field a team AND build a program given the 'pool' of 'right' recruits that exist in our social/entitlement culture. There's more than 'Xs' and 'Os' when it comes to this "no-win situation". Just my opinion - Thanks for opening a thought provoking subject. GO IRISH!
I'm not going to eat up space with a copy of the entire post, because all I'm going to say is that it was a first-tier effort. Hats off to you, J_Law for strong insight and thought-provoking material. Also, a solid follow-up by "13".
I will keep this short as there are many long thoughtful posts. Bottom line is winning. BK needs to win the games we are suppose to win and then you get studs when you win the games you aren't suppose to and are viewed as a program on the rise/building something great. The mishandling of the QB situation last year cost the team a BCS birth and I believe cost BK a handful of top notch recruits. Unfortunately it is all about momentum and BK needs to build it this year...hopefully by learning from last year and doing a good job managing the QBs.
Run the ball.
Stop the run.
You win, or lose, up front.
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