Brian Kelly Should Not Be Front-Runner for College Football Coach of the Year

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Brian Kelly Should Not Be Front-Runner for College Football Coach of the Year
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Remember those hot seat rumors that were flying around all of last season?

Everybody outside of South Bend had an opinion on why head coach Brian Kelly should be fired after just two seasons coaching Notre Dame.

He simply wasn't getting the job done, and with the talent on the roster, there was really no excuse as to why the Irish were not competing for BCS bowls.

Well, you can throw that hot seat talk out of the window, as Kelly is in fact the right man for the job.

Another coaching change is not going to happen anytime soon, especially if the success continues for this program.

However, Kelly should not be the front-runner for the Paul "Bear" Bryant Award.

To me, the award for the best coach should be awarded to the guy who has done the most with the least. Somebody who has surprised us when nobody was expecting success. A coach that continues to find ways to win regardless of the circumstances and makes something out of nothing.

Kelly fits the criteria, but there are so many better options when it comes to the 2012 season.

An 8-0 record, with victories over ranked teams such as Michigan, Michigan State, Stanford and an impressive win over Oklahoma is remarkable. It certainly wasn't expected, but did anybody ever question the amount of talent that is on this Notre Dame roster?

Nobody ever said there wasn't enough talent on this Irish team to make a run, much of the doubt was because of the brutal schedule the team was facing. After all, before the season began, it looked like there were at least five teams on the schedule that were capable of competing for a BCS bowl this season.

But while you can't blame the lack of quality opponents on Notre Dame, that still isn't the reason Kelly shouldn't win the award.

This year’s class of quality coaches is just too strong.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Brian Kelly has done a fabulous job this season, but there are simply better coaching stories out there.
Bill Snyder of Kansas State has led a far less talented team to an undefeated record. Many thought that last season was a fluke, but beating Oklahoma and West Virginia in their house is no coincidence. A program that has only reached three bowl games since 2003 is now in position to make a run towards a BCS National Championship. 

Bill O'Brien of Penn State has led his team to a 5-3 record, which may not be that impressive, but when you consider everything his program has been through, Nittany Lion fans will take it. We are talking about a team that lost the majority of its key players due to transfer just months before the season was set to begin.

You also have Mike Riley of Oregon State, who has the Beavers at 6-1 through the first seven games of the season. Be honest, you weren't even paying attention to this program before the season began, as the only two contenders in the Pac-12 were considered to be Oregon and USC.

We can go on forever with all of the surprise teams from this year, which also includes teams such as Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Mississippi State and Texas Tech. You can even put Ohio State in the conversation, with first-year head coach Urban Meyer taking over the program.

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The bottom line is that Notre Dame isn't really a surprise team, as we expect the Irish to be in this position with the talent they have.

Many are surprised with how quickly things have taken place and how Kelly has gone from winning just eight games in each of his first two years, to winning eight straight in his third year.

It was never really a question of if Notre Dame will be able to turn things around—it was more of a matter of when. We can't say the same thing for some of other programs that have had a spectacular season this year.

We have to give Kelly credit, as he has been able to manage the quarterback situation well, particularly without turning purple like he did all of last year. He has been able to knock off four ranked teams in the 2012 season, as he was a combined 2-2 in the first two years, providing light at the end of the tunnel and giving Irish fans hope for terrific things to come.

But the 2012 season has been the year of the surprise, and the resurgence of the Irish hasn't been as impressive as some of the rest of the stories across the nation.

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