The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are one of the most historic programs in the history of sports in general. In college football, they reigned as king for many seasons.
However, it has been many years since the Irish were a legitimate threat to win anything of significance.
Much like Alabama five years ago, the NCAA needs Notre Dame to return to prominence. The journey will not be easy; mainly because the standards of admissions for the Irish are much tougher than other national powerhouses.
However, it is not only possible but it can become probable if the Irish will accomplish these five things.
Notre Dame has a coach who can help them return back to a national powerhouse. However, he must stop blaming the previous regime. People are tired of it in politics and they will soon grow weary of Kelly as well.
Kelly was quoted this week as saying, “You can see the players that I have recruited, you know who they are. We’ve had one class of kids that we’ve recruited that I’ve had my hand on.”
While the statement that Kelly made might be accurate, it was insulting to the previous players, and divisive in the locker room. No one should ever question Kelly’s ability to coach X’s and O’s, however, he needs to improve his managing of players.
Moreover, Coach Kelly has had the players from the previous staff for a year as well. He should have been able to coach them up—after all, he did come to Notre Dame with the reputation of coaching lower-level recruits up to a top 25 level.
It should be stated that Kelly did apologize. However, if he is going to return the Irish to prominence he will need to avoid these mistakes in the future.
Notre Dame got off to a strong start recruiting this year and have already have signed eight 4-star players. Moreover, these players could fill several areas of need for the Irish.
However, with the recent turmoil and losses, Notre Dame is in danger of losing several of these recruits.
It used to be that Notre Dame could just sign recruits because of their name and tradition. Those days are over not only for the Irish but all of the historic powerhouses. The new generation of players cares less about tradition and more about perception.
Notre Dame has two major things going in their favor.
The first benefit is immediate playing time. There are several players who could come out and compete for time as freshmen.
The second is the amount of media exposure they could receive at Notre Dame if they become part of the solution. The media wants Notre Dame relevant and will reward any players who help that become a reality.
Gunner Kiel could be just what the doctor ordered for Notre Dame woes. The Irish need a legit star at quarterback and Kiel could be their man. Kiel made headlines recently when he decommitted from Indiana.
Not only is Kiel an elite quarterback, but he is in Notre Dame's backyard. They cannot, under any circumstances, let Kiel get away.
Kiel is considered the No. 1 high school quarterback in the nation and is the type of quarterback that could get Notre Dame back to relevance.
Kiel has the size you want in a QB at 6’4" and 220 lbs. However, it is accuracy, leadership and decision making that sets Kiel apart.
Sometimes players are just not a good fit for certain systems. Kiel, however, is the perfect player for Kelly’s system
Southern California linebacker Chris Galippo was quoted after the Trojans' 31-17 victory over the Irish as saying, “At the end there, when they didn’t call those timeouts, they just quit. That’s what Notre Dame football is about. They’re not anything like USC.”
Galippo would apologize soon after for his comments (whereas, SC quarterback Matt Barkley agreed). While Galippo was out of line, it is the Irish that owe their fans and applogy. Notre Dame has been anything but tough over the last several years.
Bringing in a tough-minded coach like Kelly was supposed to toughen this team up. However, at this time, it has not. The Irish are not tough in the trenches and they were whipped into submission by the Trojans.
There is no doubting that the strength & conditioning program for the Irish, under Charlie Weis, was lacking. As a result, it is too early to put any blame on the new S & C coach. However, there needs to be a dramatic shift soon.
The Irish look more like an ACC school than the rough and tough Notre Dame that once ruled the college football landscape.
There is an infamous saying in sports—“Winning heals all things.”
The Irish have five remaining games on the schedule, which consists of Navy, Wake Forrest, Boston College, Maryland and Stanford.
The Irish are good enough to win all of these games. In fact, they are likely to be favored in every game but Stanford. If they can win the next four games, they could head to Stanford with an 8-3 record and a one-game Super Bowl.
Notre Dame has already dropped three games. However, the season is not lost. Coach Kelly must rally the players around each other and finish the season strong.
One of the most recognized traditions of Notre Dame is the sign that states, “Play Like Champions Today.” It is time for the Irish to believe this sign once again.