Much has been made about Brian Kelly's sideline antics over the past few years. From Kelly's grabbing of Tony Pike's facemask and his jersey and screaming at the kid until he cowered on the bench in order to avoid his seemingly "mad-dog" coach, to more recently having Kelly grabbing Irish players' jerseys and facemasks, jerking players around and dropping "f" bombs on national television as he went after them has done nothing but prove Kelly has more than his share of anger issues.
After playing year's of football I accumulated my fair share of harsh words from coaches. Was I ever man handled by a coach? The closest I really ever came was when I was 15 years old. I was a freshman and had a coach, an assistant plus a few players do all they could do just to separate myself and an offensive lineman engaged in a fight, during a very hot practice.
The incident actually started after I was blind sided on the first series of plays in practice. The first incident was simple enough. It all started after the whistle was blown following a run play where I made a tackle and I was blind sided even after I had helped the running back stand up. The first blind side sort of shocked me as the play was over and it drew comments from fellow defenders as well but I simply let the reserve lineman know, "to not do that again."
I figured all was good and actually thought the kid may have been hearing impaired or just lost as to what to do following the play. However, I guess the backup player did not like the threat I issued and on the very next series of downs he decided the best way to get my attention and make me happy was to execute a more flagrant late hit that came well after the next play was blown dead. I immediately jumped on him and locked horns and I would not let go until two coaches and a few players did all they could to force my arms behind my back and roll me off of the misguided player.
The whole issue earned me extra laps. I had to run during and after practice and it was hot and very taxing but I was wrong. However, the two hits landed the backup lineman off of the team and in the hunt for a new sport to "go out" for as his football days were over.
Understand, the reason I was punished and forced to run laps was not for grabbing the player and trying to throw punches (which is almost impossible in full pads, on the ground, with helmets on) nor was I being punished for trying to shake off those who were trying to break the whole thing up. The punishment I received was due to my use of a big mouthful of salty, drunken sailor type of language, and that, by players, was simply not tolerated.
A few years later, at a higher level of football and during another practice it was almost second nature to hear some profanity tossed around by a different head coach and a few of the assistants. However, no player was ever the direct subject or target of the profanity and there was zero profanity used or hands placed on a player who was being chastised for an on the field error. That is not to say we were not yelled at and insulted, but there was just a matter of respect that existed when there was a hard lesson to be learned.
Why bring this up? What does it have to do with Brian Kelly and his irate temper shown on the sidelines between himself and whichever player happens to land on his pyscho-side style of admonition and his twisted sense of "teaching time?"
Well, the reason I bring this all up is there was actually a time where a coach overstepped his authority and placed his hands on a young man and needless to say the young man completely "lost it" and went after the coach.
When trying to quell the situation, all the coach was able to do quickly exit the steel door, go into brick locker room while locking it as he ran out leaving the irate kid locked inside trying to kick his way out of the room. After leaving the locker room and locking it up an emergency call to the authorities was made in order to have the young man safely removed from the school grounds.
The lesson our coach learned that day and the lesson Brian Kelly will learn some day, if he is not fired first, is that not all players are cool characters like Tony Pike or like one of his Kelly's young punters who makes the mistake of accidentally punting a ball through the endzone. There are a few guys on most teams who simply were from the tough side of town and they learned, early on, to not allow anyone to place their hands on them.
There are plenty of mild mannered competitive sports figures who would never consider placing their hands on any coach. But, and it seems there is always a but, there are certain players on every team who are guys the rest of the team knows you simply do not place your hands on.
Now, if any coach thinks they can go on a cussing tirade and grab one of these rare types of players facemask's in order to twist their heads around in order to get them to look right into the face of their coach, simply has not met one of the "keep your hands off me" guys in their life.
One of these rough Notre Dame Saturday afternoons Brian Kelly will probably go too far and he will grab one of the no-nonsense guys. There is no specific reasons some players just "blow-up" but the conditions many are brought up around tend to form the amount of trash talk one of these guys will take from another person.
So, it would be reasonable to deduce that the rougher the conditions where a child was brought up, the more the chances a young man from those circumstances may just be a guy who you do not put your hands on in any type of violent manner, without being subject to possibly being knocked out or having your nose broken.
We all know Kelly is a solid recruiter and he travels the nation looking for the most talented players he can find. However, Kelly may want to think twice about recruiting in areas considered "tougher areas" of the United States.
Kelly may preserve his teeth a bit longer if he stays out of places South Central, L.A. or the Compton area and he may want to steer clear of a few parishes deep in the swamps of Cajun Country, and he may just want to stay in his car instead of stopping at a few buildings on Knickerbocker Avenue while in Little Italy, and he may just want to stay completely off of most parts of Detroit's infamous Eight Mile Road while trying to recruit players he someday plans on grabbing by the jersey and swinging around while yelling and cursing at them during practice or worse yet, during a game.
This is by no means a statement about our society in general. This is just something I have witnessed over the past 40 years. Meaning there are some great guys and dear friends of mine out there, who you just do not put your hands on.
If Kelly thinks he can always get away with screaming, cursing and man-handling a few of these "don't touch me" type of guys on his squad then he is highly mistaken. Kelly may want to check the player files before he grabs the next 6'5'' 285 pounder by the jersey and decides to start yanking him around.
The truth is, some guys just do not care what the negative outcome could be if they hit back when it comes to having others putting their hands on them in anger. Unfortunately, I am one of those guys and I would have lost any and all chances of playing big time college football had I ever had a guy like Kelly grab my facemask and jerk my head right into his face in order for him to cuss me out over a failed play.
A scenario like that would have caused me to try my level best to show Kelly what it really meant to be considered a member of the "Fighting Irish" and of course it would not have ended up in a pretty way.
So, remember, when Kelly is turning 10 shades of red on his sidelines and is cursing and grabbing players, he is simply doing so on borrowed time and as the Irish continue to lose, it may only get worse and he may meet a real "tough guy" he never knew he had on his roster.