Brian Kelly: Notre Dame Leader Deserves Coach of the Year Award

Josh SchochAnalyst IIINovember 24, 2012

NORMAN, OK - OCTOBER 27:   Head Coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish is all smiles before a game against the Oklahoma Sooners at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on October 27, 2012 in Norman, Oklahoma.  The Fighting Irish defeated the Sooners 30-13.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Brian Kelly has done an incredible job with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish this season, taking a team that wasn't even ranked in the Preseason AP Poll and turning it into a team that will soon be playing in the BCS National Championship Game.

Where two years ago fans were screaming for him to be fired, Kelly has now become the best coach in the college game today.

Notre Dame topped rival USC on Saturday night, winning 22-13 and clinching a berth in the national title game.

The team played an incredibly difficult schedule that included four ranked opponents and seven different rivals (with three of those being ranked rivals), but Kelly brought the Irish through it all to a perfect 12-0 record (the only bowl eligible team in college football to go undefeated this season).

It wasn't easy for Notre Dame, as two of the team's games went to overtime, and three other games were decided by a single possession.

However, Kelly was able to keep his guys calm, cool and collected in late-game situations, and that can only come from a team that buys in to the coach's system.

In just his third season with the Irish, Kelly brought a team rumored to have become insignificant to No. 1 in the nation, and could now win the national championship.

It certainly hasn't been easy for the Irish to get the credit they deserve this season. Despite winning 10 straight games to start the season, the team was still ranked No. 3 until both No. 1 Kansas State and No. 1 Oregon fell two weeks ago. The team then took over the No. 1 spot this week and will retain it next week.

There were 25 teams ranked ahead of Notre Dame to start the season, but the Irish persevered and found a way to top all 25.

It was Kelly's doing.

Kelly was a mastermind for the team, using his defensive strategy to hold opponents to just 10.3 points per game on the season, ranking second in college football behind only No. 2 Alabama.

Kelly also found a way to coach a team that lacked offensive superstars into a unit that averaged 26.7 points per game this season, led by a rushing attack that contained three solid backs that Kelly worked with to turn them into stars who combined for 202.0 rushing yards per game.

What Kelly did with Notre Dame is truly unbelievable. He took a team that was beginning to fade and turned it into a national powerhouse once more. There is no other coach in the nation who deserves the Coach of the Year award more than Brian Kelly of Notre Dame. Period.