In 2010, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish didn't by any means have a bad season. Disappointing? Possibly. But bad? No. Brian Kelly came into a situation that needed not only a change in personnel, but a change in attitude. The Charlie Weis era did not breed excellence, it bred complacency.
This change in direction starts and ends with the message that Kelly can convey to his current players and recruits: he wants to win championships, and not just bowl games.
The challenge for Kelly is that Notre Dame is no longer the same powerful program it once was. No longer can a Notre Dame coach walk into the house of the No. 1 player in the country and simply tell him that he will be great at the University of Notre Dame, not because of the facilities or the coaching staff, but because of the tradition.
Florida, Alabama, Auburn, USC and Texas are just a few of the schools that have passed Notre Dame's ability to recruit top flight athletes based on their name and recent success.
ESPN Top 150 2011 Recruiting Class:
Aaron Lynch, DE
Matthew Hegarty, OT
Ishaq Williams, DE
DaVaris Daniels, WR
Ben Koyack, TE
Stephon Tuitt, DE
Anthony Rabasa, DE
But I digress. Kelly has the ability with this, his second recruiting class, to make a name for himself and the university. Turning the program around by bringing in talent that he recruited will be a boost for the school's performance on the field, and its prestige off.
So far, Notre Dame has 22 recruits and seven in ESPN’s top 150 recruits. Among its top recruits is Aaron Lynch, who many believe has future NFL potential. At 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, he is huge in both stature and what he represents.
Reigning from Cape Coral, Florida, Lynch was recruited by all of the big Florida schools, yet he chose to come play in South Bend.
Coming off of a bowl victory, and with the return of mostly all of its skilled position players, including Dayne Crist, this team will continue to improve in 2011. It is hard to tell if the lure of Notre Dame gold will again shine to what it once was, but there is no doubt that Kelly has the team in the right direction.