Notre Dame Football 2012: An Evaluation of Brian Kelly Through Year 2

Connor KillorenSenior Analyst IApril 24, 2012

STANFORD, CA - NOVEMBER 26: Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly argues a call with side judge Glenn Crowther during their game against the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium on November 26, 2011 in Stanford, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Fan approval is what keeps coaches' seats cold. Notre Dame's head coaching gig is a prime example. And current head coach Brian Kelly has made it through two seasons in South Bend, despite the fact that some may consider his seat to be "lukewarm."

Two consecutive seasons of the Fighting Irish finishing with a final record of 8-5 may not sound pretty, but it's the little things that the team is doing right which are keeping the majority of the rabid fanbase appeased.

In year two of the Kelly regime, the team played with a toughness and "nasty" attitude that former head coach Charlie Weis' squads lacked. And while the consistency that Kelly has spoken of has not fully developed, it is certainly on its way. 

Perhaps the most sterling aspect of Kelly's efforts in two seasons on the job is the change of culture in the program. Under Weis, practices were considered to be of the "country club" variety. Players had a sense of entitlement. Many, specifically Jimmy Clausen, were overly arrogant and self-absorbed. You don't get that feeling with this regime.

Players understand that at Notre Dame, you play for more than just yourself. You play for "Our Lady," the university itself, former players, the student body, alumni, etc. Being a part of Notre Dame in any capacity is sacred in itself, and that attitude is finally permeating throughout the program.

It hasn't come full circle, though. The defection of Aaron Lynch to South Florida, along with the losses of Ronald Darby, Tee Shepard and Deontay Greenberry show a lack of Kelly's full grasp on the manner in which he and his staff must recruit.

The group simply cannot pursue players such as Lynch and Greenberry. Neither of those gentlemen truly had Notre Dame in their hearts, and that transforms into a proverbial cancer.

As I stated in an article published last week, Kelly and his assistants must target and relentlessly chase "Notre Dame" guys.

Should the staff become flawless at doing so, the results will show by the product on the field.

Clearly that process still requires time, something that Fighting Irish fans will never tolerate. Results must show themselves immediately for the fanbase. It won't tolerate more 8-5 seasons, and it has already grown weary of the recruiting losses.

This is no Cincinnati, but Kelly knows that. All he needs is time. However, more wins must be tacked on the board and more recruiting battles must be won.

Kelly's clock will begin ticking this season, whether or not the fans want to believe that.