Well it happened. It all seems to good to be true. An up-and-coming coach with an Irish name joining a reeling Notre Dame program with tremendous upside. This is a no brainer. There's no way this could blow up in everyone's faces, right?
As confirmation of Kelly's five-year deal with the Irish, reached media outlets this morning, I couldn't help but shake my head. Kelly's move to South Bend is bad for both parties. Lets look at the facts:
- Along with 34 seniors, Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate are gone from an Irish squad that will not appear in a bowl game this season and lost to UConn and Navy at home. This means that the team Kelly inherits will be seriously lacking in leadership.
- Since Bob Davie took over for Lou Holtz in 1997, the Irish are 91-67 with a 1-7 record in bowl games. With the exception of a few seasons, for the past ten years the Irish have simply been average. Notre Dame's program experiencing a crisis and a new coach won't fix that.
- Similarly, Kelly is leaving a program he built into a power in just three years. By leaving Cincinnati, he has alienated the recruiting base he tapped into to take the Bearcats to the top of the Big East.
- The Bearcat team Kelly leaves will have a lot of talent back next year and Kelly had a chance to repeat his performance this year and make Cincy into even more of a power.
Kelly has also shown his true colors by leaving his team before a BCS bowl game, and his former players have been vocal about their sense of betrayal.
"We already knew what he was going to say. We weren't giving him a round of applause or anything, tight end Ben Guidugli said. "It's like somebody turned their back on us. We brought this whole thing this far. We've come this far. To have someone walk out now is disappointing."
Kelly's departure for the bigger stage is not only the wrong choice, it's also the selfish one. Yes, Notre Dame does have many more resources and is a big step for any coach, but to abandon your team at the pinnacle of their season is almost criminal.
"He went for the money," Mardy Gilyard told the Associated Press. "I'm fairly disgusted with the situation, that they let it last this long."
While I'm sure the contract is fat and Kelly may be the right man for the job, something about this seems forced.
Maybe it's Notre Dame's affinity for hiring the big name coach only to have it self-destruct within four years.
Maybe it's that Kelly's former players now have to channel their anger towards their former coach and play the biggest games of their lives.
Who knows, maybe Kelly will do it. Maybe he'll take Notre Dame to the promise land again. But if you believe in karma, I wouldn't count on it.
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