When trying to get a high school football recruit to come to Notre Dame, one of the biggest draws is the added exposure that player will receive, not only from the fans across the nation, but professional scouts as well. Storied history? Check. Historical significance? Check. Facilities that are second to none? Check. A schedule that covers the entire nation (as well as other countries)? Check. National television exposure nearly every week? Check.
However, when you’re the head coach at Notre Dame, the level of exposure is altogether different. This job comes with arguably more pressure than at any other NCAA school. After he was fired, former head coach Charlie Weis made it clear that coaching in South Bend presents additional complications when it comes to national scrutiny. Even though this was the first time that Weis publicly proclaimed his displeasure for the nationwide interest in the Irish, he certainly has mentioned it before, citing times when he’s had to sign autographs for Irish fans while being out with his family.
Now that Weis has been replaced by Brian Kelly, the former head coach at the University of Cincinnati, the nation’s eye turns upon him. Before Kelly was even announced as Notre Dame’s new head football coach, he was introduced to the pressure that comes with the job. After he changed the background of his Twitter account to Notre Dame Stadium, changed his website to UND.com (the official website of Notre Dame Athletics), and changed his biography to, “Thrilled to be the coach of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish…,” not only did Kelly receive a ton of additional followers to his updates, but his page was flooded with numerous Irish fans voicing their pleasure over the recently leaked news of his hiring and numerous Cincinnati fans letting him know that they were *ahem* disgruntled, to say the least.
Because of the relative failures of the three previous coaching staffs, Brian Kelly and his yet-to-be-appointed staff will have even more additional pressure to succeed. It almost feels as though some Notre Dame fans and foes are already expecting Kelly to fail, even though his resume is quite impressive. Questions about his defensive aptitude have already been raised and his defensive acumen will be under heavy scrutiny when spring practice rolls around next year. Additionally, the manner in which he handled his hiring process left many current Cincinnati players displeased with their former coach.
Totaling the added scrutiny, exposure, and (unhealthy) interest that Notre Dame brings to any coach and the impressive record that Kelly brings in to Notre Dame, his hiring could be a recipe for glorious achievement or, as Bob Davie, Ty Willingham, and Charlie Weis can attest to, humiliating failure. For the sake of the University, the fan base, and Jack Swarbrick, let’s hope it’s the former and not the latter.
Welcome to Notre Dame, Brian Kelly. It won’t get any easier.
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- Notre Dame Under Charlie Weis—and Beyond
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