Notre Dame Football: An Evaluation of Its Current State and Outlook

Tom DoyleContributor INovember 9, 2010

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 30: Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish talks to his offensive team including Cierre Wood #20 during a time-out against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane at Notre Dame Stadium on October 30, 2010 in South Bend, Indiana. Tulsa defeated Notre Dame 28-27. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Notre Dame football: the boaster of 11 National Titles, 96 Consensus All-Americans, seven Heisman Trophy winners, and in last five years, a 19-26 record.

Most Notre Dame fans tend to forget about last statistic, most Notre Dame fans live in the past. Most Notre Dame fans have no idea what the current state of Notre Dame truly is.

The old adage goes, "you live in the past you die in the past."

None can sum up the current state of Notre Dame and their fanbase better than the above.

Notre Dame, while most fans tend not to believe, is not what people close to college football would say a good team. Is Notre Dame better than most? Yes. But are they what their fans think they ought to be? No, not even close.

Most Notre Dame fans, due to their inability to foresee, have a constant belief that Notre Dame needs to win a national title every year or the year should be considered a failure and the coach should be fired.

The fact of the matter is Notre Dame won't be going to the BCS title game or possibly a bowl game this year, and they probably won't be playing for a national title for years to come, if that.

What most Notre Dame fans overlook is success that could occur in the future. None is better an example than Brian Kelly this year at Notre Dame.

The Notre Dame “faithful”—a term I will use very, very lightly—brought Kelly in with high hopes, and no thought towards disappointment. They see Kelly bring an irrelevant Cincinnati team to a 12-0 season and national spotlight and immediately believe he can do the same at Notre Dame, regardless of the players lack of familiarity to the spread offense, the loss of two leaders on offense and the glaring problems with the defense.

Brian Kelly even described a fast track to success in his “five-minute fix,” which attempted to imitate Ara Parseghian’s famous turnaround at Notre Dame in 1964.

Kelly’s best efforts to imitate this turnaround has not been what fans expected it to be. Has this season been a failure? You ask a Notre Dame fan, and the answer you most likely will get will be “absolutely.” You ask a college football fan the answer will be “Notre Dame is going in the right direction, they just need some time to adjust.”

My opinion is that Notre Dame took stride this season with Kelly, who boasts wins over respectable opponents Purdue, Pittsburgh and Boston College, as well as narrow defeats to Michigan State and Michigan.

Notre Dame adjusted well to the spread offense, but their inconsistencies have led to losses that should have been blowout wins. The defense showed strides, but like the offense, inconsistency has caused them to lose games that should have been victories like Michigan State, Stanford and Michigan.

How do you get rid of these inconsistencies? Practice, talent and a slow development of the team due to trial and error—all of which are going to take some time to lead to perfection.

Can Brian Kelly bring all of this to Notre Dame? Of course, we have seen Kelly take Crist from a player with minimal playing time to a quarterback who, at times, looks like he’s been leading the offense since Week One of his freshman year.

We have also seen the low of Crist’s seasons at Navy, but most people forget Crist is a rookie and growing pains should be expected. Brian Kelly's coaching expertise could be seen this weekend with how Tommy Rees does against a stout Utah defense. 

If Rees and Kelly lead the Irish to three victories to finish out the year and get a bid to a bowl game, then this year should be considered more than just a step, but a stride in the right direction.

The thing that most Notre Dame fans don’t realize is that Brian Kelly isn’t building a national championship team, he is building much more than a one-hit wonder.

Brian Kelly is building a dynasty at Notre Dame, and while it may not seem like it, Notre Dame is on a fast track to success.