Notre Dame Football: 5 Things That Will Keep Brian Kelly Up at Night
Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly has had quite the tumultuous offseason, to say the least.
To add insult to injury, the unfortunate events which have occurred in the past four months come after an utterly disappointing season that ended with a loss to Florida State in the Champs Sports Bowl, dropping Kelly's record at Notre Dame to 16-10.
The combination of the results from Kelly's first two seasons in South Bend, along with recruiting failures this offseason, likely have Kelly tossing and turning.
Following are five specific things that are keeping him up at night.
5. Aaron Lynch Transferring
In a devastating blow to the Fighting Irish program, heralded defensive end Aaron Lynch followed through with his intention to transfer.
The 6'6", 270-pound Lynch will enroll in summer classes at the University of South Florida in June, but is required to sit out the 2012 season, per NCAA transfer rules.
Lynch's decision to leave Notre Dame was a highly publicized one, most notably because he was the first stalwart defensive end to don the blue and gold since Justin Tuck was on campus.
Kelly knew that, and he also knew that in order to elevate his defense to a national championship level, having a presence such as Lynch on the defensive line was crucial.
Kelly, defensive coordinator Bob Diaco and defensive line coach Mike Elston will attempt to fill Lynch's void, but no player currently on the roster is capable to duplicating what Lynch brought to the table.
4. 2 Consecutive 8-5 Seasons
The demand for immediate results comes with the territory of being the head coach at Notre Dame. Brian Kelly was highly aware of that condition before taking the job and even went so far as to say that it was "only a matter of time" before the Fighting Irish won a national championship under his watch.
After two consecutive 8-5 seasons, that proclamation is making Kelly look a bit foolish.
Yes, there has been visible progress on the field, but if that progress doesn't yield results, it's meaningless.
Kelly's third season on the job will have added pressure due to success experienced by former head coaches in their third seasons at the helm.
Will Kelly's third season produce the results that fans expect? Only time will tell.
3. Recruiting Failures
Following Brian Kelly's first season as head coach at Notre Dame, he and his coaching staff hit the recruiting trail and hit it hard.
The fruits of their labor were evident from the outset, as the Irish received commitments from a slew of the nation's top players, including wide receiver Deontay Greenberry, linebacker David Perkins, offensive lineman Taylor Decker and defensive back Ronald Darby, among others.
Unfortunately for Kelly and Co., not one of those four players signed a letter of intent to play at Notre Dame. Each backed out of his commitment. Greenberry's defection was the most notorious, as he switched his pledge to the University of Houston the morning of National Signing Day.
Decker and Perkins now play for Urban Meyer and former Irish assistants Ed Warriner and Tim Hinton at Ohio State, while Darby plays for Florida State.
While every FBS program is hit with a de-commitment or two each offseason, the amount that Notre Dame dealt with created some ugly publicity for the program.
2. Lack of a Signature Victory
For a head coach to be considered an "elite" one, the first step is to record a signature victory. The consensus declares a signature victory to be a win over a top 10 team—something Kelly has failed to do while at Notre Dame.
He has three, or potentially four, opportunities to do so this season. Michigan, Oklahoma and USC are all preseason top 10 teams, with Michigan State being just short of joining that group.
Should Kelly fail to will his team to a win against any of those four opponents, his job security will be non-existent.
That should be enough for Kelly to ask his doctor for a prescription for some powerful sleeping pills.
1. Tommy Rees' Arrest
With the amount of negative publicity that Kelly's program has received in the past two years, the last thing he needed was what transpired last week.
Incumbent starting quarterback Tommy Rees was arrested at a house party, and subsequently charged with four misdemeanors: public intoxication, minor consumption, resisting arrest and battery of a law enforcement official.
Those four charges against Rees have turned the race for the starting quarterback job upside down, as it's doubtful Kelly would allow for Rees to retain his starting duties after the behavior he displayed last week.
And to think that the quarterback position was the one element that deprived Notre Dame of its BCS dreams in 2011.