Notre Dame Football: Credit Brian Kelly for Expecting Greatness

Sam FisherContributor IOctober 30, 2011

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 22:  Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish yells at Carlo Calabrese #44 after a penalty during a game against the University of Southern California Trojans at Notre Dame Stadium on October 22, 2011 in South Bend, Indiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

There was a lot of hullabaloo surrounding Notre Dame's game against Navy this weekend, with little of it actually relating to the game.

After head coach Brian Kelly made some remarks about his own recruits that rubbed some upperclassmen who were recruited during Charlie Weis' unsuccessful tenure under the Dome the wrong way, many of them took to Twitter to express their frustration. 

Give me a break.

That anyone of those players should feel themselves above criticism is ridiculous. The one thing these guys have consistently been during their time at the school is disappointing.

Sure, Manti Te'o and Michael Floyd have been remarkably productive as individuals. But neither has elevated his play in a crucial game. And their fellow upperclassmen have even less to show for their time at the school.

Everyone claims the expectations are high at Notre Dame. But are they really?

There has been a tendency to accept losing that is remarkably inconsistent with the school's (supposed) status as a national power. Eradicating that is the most important (and difficult) thing Kelly has to do, so if he wants to point out the (obvious) fact that most of ND's upperclassmen have failed to live up to expectations, I say kudos. 

These upperclassmen have had some big wins, yes. But most of them happened when it was too little, too late.

The wins at Utah and USC last year were excellent and they're the main reason we all expected big things from the Irish this year, but it shouldn't be forgotten that they happened when it was too late to truly save the season. This team has consistently failed to meet high expectations.

Every big game they've ever played is only an indictment of the weeks where they just didn't bother to play to their talent level. These are the guys who've dropped three of the past four to Navy—this after a 40-plus year winning streak against the Midshipmen.

By calling out his upperclassmen, Kelly made it clear that there are no excuses.

You come to Notre Dame to win. If you don't, you're a disappointment. The rewards of playing under the Dome are many: a great education and likely (even if undeserved) stardom. But in turn, you're expected to win, to be great.  

With the team reeling after laying an egg (yet again) in a big game against USC, Kelly needed to remind his guys of that. And what do you know? The Irish routed Navy, and they actually looked like what they say they are: a great football team.

Let's applaud Brian Kelly. If Notre Dame is truly going to be great again, losing cannot be tolerated. Kelly put himself on the line to prove that he's not in the business of projecting greatness—he's too busy expecting it.