When Brian Kelly, and Notre Dame fans for that matter, are jotting down their Christmas card list this year, they might want to be sure to get one to Lawrence, Kansas. December is coming quick, and right now it looks like the Irish will be spending Christmas at home—flying out after the 25th for their January bowl date.
Meanwhile, Charlie Weis will be sitting at home, no bowl on his team's slate, and well wishes from Irish fans will be welcomed. A simple thank you will suffice, as Charlie Weis is the man responsible for setting Brian Kelly's plate in a number of ways.
In fairness to Brian Kelly, the head coach firmly planted his stamp on this team. They play his brand of football, and guys like Everett Golson, George Atkinson III, Stephon Tuitt and Sheldon Day are clearly his doing. Make no mistake—in year three, this is Brian Kelly's team. Still, Weis certainly helped a bit.
Everyone knows about Manti Te'o and Tyler Eifert, the two seniors who were part of Charlie Weis' last class. However, also on that list of 2009 key contributors on the 2012 roster are running backs Cierre Wood and Theo Riddick, defensive players Carlo Calabrese, Zeke Motta and Dan Fox and on the offensive line Zack Martin and Chris Watt. Throw in Braxton Cave, Mike Golic and Kapron Lewis-Moore from 2008, and you've got a group of players who are seeing big minutes for the Irish.
The other element of the Irish's 2012 campaign that cannot be undersold are the guys like Christian Lombard, Louis Nix III and Prince Shembo—all players who signed with new head coach Brian Kelly. All players who also committed to the old coach, Charlie Weis.
The true beauty in the gifts Weis left behind is twofold. Not only are they solid college football players, but they were willing to go all-in with the new coach. For any of you who watched the Rich Rodriguez-Michigan experiment go awry, you know buying into what the new coach sells is a must. Kelly worked these kids hard, and they believed in what he was selling, and we're now seeing the results of the old mixing with the new.