Gary Barta: Brian Kelly's Departure Can Be Considered in Notre Dame's CFP Case

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVDecember 1, 2021

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 23: Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly looks on during a game between the USC Trojans and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on October 23, 2021 at Notre Dame Stadium, in South Bend, IN. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Notre Dame's College Football Playoff hopes this season may have gone out the door with Brian Kelly.

Iowa athletic director Gary Barta, who's also the chair of the CFP selection committee, indicated during Tuesday's rankings announcement that Kelly's departure for LSU could be a consideration when determining the Fighting Irish's final position:

Yahoo Sports College Football @YahooSportsCFB

Fuller quote of what Gary Barta said about how the committee can view Notre Dame next week: <a href="https://t.co/nq2kjPT5c8">pic.twitter.com/nq2kjPT5c8</a>

It's not uncommon for a coach to move onto a new job before his team competes in a bowl game. Kelly did it when he accepted Notre Dame's offer in December 2009, putting Jeff Quinn in charge to guide Cincinnati to a 51-24 defeat to Florida in the Sugar Bowl.

But Kelly's decision is almost without precedent because Notre Dame is still in the playoff picture.

The Fighting Irish remained sixth in the updated rankings:

College Football Playoff @CFBPlayoff

Check out the full <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CFBPlayoff?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CFBPlayoff</a> selection committee rankings for games played through November 27. <br><br>Where does your team rank as we head into conference championship weekend and Selection Day?<br><br>🏈🏆 <a href="https://t.co/RBhlBBCWeQ">pic.twitter.com/RBhlBBCWeQ</a>

At the moment, they're on the outside looking in, but some combination of losses by Alabama, Michigan, Cincinnati and Oklahoma State would presumably catapult them into the top four. Given the way this year has unfolded, that sequence of events isn't out of the question.

Of course, the above logic applied before Barta's comments. Now, it looks like Notre Dame may not have a straightforward path—or any path at all—into the playoff.

Granted, the selection committee may be wary of the optics behind snubbing the Fighting Irish if the conference championship games swing their way.

Tom Loy @TomLoy247

Penalizing this 11-1 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NotreDame?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NotreDame</a> team, which has been outstanding during the 2nd half of the year, because a head coach left before the season ended, would be one of the most ridiculous things I’ve seen in this sport. If two of five ahead of them lose, the Irish deserve to be in. <a href="https://t.co/3Au7S1MMQj">https://t.co/3Au7S1MMQj</a>

Emmanuel Acho @EmmanuelAcho

So the Notre Dame players who fought all season, to an 11-1 record and a chance at the CFB Playoffs, have to suffer even further because Brian Kelly hung them out to dry. Sad to see. <a href="https://t.co/cXL7khrsxo">https://t.co/cXL7khrsxo</a>

But Barta presumably wouldn't have said what he did if the committee wasn't prepared to at least seriously weigh Notre Dame's coaching situation as part of its overall resume.

By taking the LSU job when he did, Kelly likely ensured he's public enemy No. 1 in South Bend, Indiana, for some time. If he ultimately torpedoed the Irish's title chances in the process, it's likely he'd never be forgiven by Notre Dame fans.