Brian Kelly, speaking to the Associated Press at Lost Dunes Golf Club, revealed how easy both the Everett Golson and Eddie Vanderdoes decisions were for him. Via USA Today, Kelly talks about both players having standards to uphold and criteria to live up to:
I really look at this as fairly clear-cut scenarios. Everett Golson didn't live up to the standards and he's held accountable. Eddie Vanderdoes had a standard to live up to and he was held accountable. So those aren't that hard. I don't have to spend much time thinking about it, Kelly said Wednesday.
The coach is right. Golson's poor judgement created an easy decision for Kelly and Notre Dame. Vanderdoes' situation, even as it played out in public, had a path that was already laid out for Kelly and the Irish.
Brian Kelly is a coach who understands both sides of the coin, and, if fans are paying attention, can help others understand it as well.
The Vanderdoes situation was not about teaching a kid a lesson. It was not about an overarching fear of "breaking the system" or setting a precedent. It was merely about using the rules as they exist. Brian Kelly was not trying to strong arm the kid into attending Notre Dame or teach him a lesson; he was just working through the process.
In the same space, Kelly admits that different circumstances likely would have granted Vanderdoes a free release.
Coaches go through it, too. Kelly, who flirted with the NFL this offseason, battled critics and people who spoke about honoring his commitment. That's what contracts are written for, and why buyouts exist. When, or if, Kelly leaves for the next level, it will be about him living up to the standard to which he agreed to.
The same goes for Golson and his academics as well as with Vanderdoes and the NLI.
Now, I am admittedly one who does not like the terms of some of these agreements—most notably the one-year sit-out on transfers or the ridiculous restrictions on transferring. However, those are reasons to fight the NCAA and the conferences, not the individual coaches.
Certainly, Kelly could have been the nice guy, like Butch Davis who released four-star tackle Delvon Simmons in 2011, but he did not. He went by the book, and that is quite alright. Vanderdoes gets to be where he wants, even though he cannot play this season. Kelly will pay the same penalty, albeit in cash, when he decides to leave for another job.
Brian Kelly spells it out pretty clear, without the anger and hurt feelings that other coaches and media members use when discussing the topics. He does not talk about an epidemic of transfers or kids trying to force a release. He explains it by sticking to the point, and for the fans—many of whom do not understand—that is a plus.