Tag:Brian Kelly
Posted on: November 1, 2010 5:00 pm

Dark days in South Bend

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It wasn't supposed to be this hard, this early.

When Brian Kelly was first hired to replace Charlie Weis at Notre Dame, there were plenty of fans who thought the turnaround in South Bend would be instantaneous. Given the recent history at Notre Dame, this kind of thinking tends more towards delusion than optimism, but that's just the way things work in South Bend. (The many years of history and glory, no matter how long ago, always seem to hold greater sway than reality.)

It‘s true, Brian Kelly has brought a different attitude to Notre Dame. A likable coach, Kelly is never afraid to flash a smile and work the room on the rubber chicken circuit.

But on the field, not much has changed. In fact, this week could rightly be considered the toughest in Notre Dame history. A soul-crushing loss to Tulsa, questionable play calling, and season-ending injuries to its star players leave the Irish at 4-5 and in serious danger of missing out on another bowl game, which would be the third time in four seasons the Irish failed to play in a bowl.

The Four Horsemen these are not.

Sandwiched in between this mess was the real tragedy of the week, the death of video assistant Declan Sullivan, who lost his life while filming a Notre Dame practice from a scissor-lift that toppled over amidst high winds. Sullivan’s untimely death, combined with the dismal Irish showing, have put Kelly on the hot seat barely near the end of his first season. Perusing a couple of Notre Dame message boards this morning, believe me when I say there are plenty of calls for Kelly's firing. Granted, most people who regularly frequent college football message boards aren't exactly the stable type, but it’s clear they’re representing a broader sentiment.

As a response solely to the season, the “off with his head“ calls are just silly. As much as Notre Dame fans want to believe he is, Kelly is not a miracle worker. He's a football coach trying to make the best of what he was given, which, recruiting analysts be damned, wasn't much.

The Sullivan tragedy, however, changes the game completely.

Sullivan's death is the tragic outcome of a lot of people not exercising common sense that day. I wish that at some point a member of the school would have told Sullivan he shouldn't go up there, or Sullivan would have realized this himself, but it didn't happen, and nothing can fix it now.

We can look for a scapegoat and given human nature, we will. Whether or not Kelly deserves it, this will loom over his head like a dark cloud for the rest of his tenure in South Bend.

The fact is, if Notre Dame goes on to miss a bowl game this season, and the struggles continue into next year, this incident will be used against Kelly. Fair or not, he is in charge of Notre Dame football, and Sullivan's death happened on his watch.

It's also why Kelly could be fired this season, and with cause. It might not be right, but it's not all that wrong either.
Posted on: October 31, 2010 6:22 pm

Irish lose starting QB and RB for season

Posted by Tom Fornelli

On Saturday Notre Dame not only lost at home to Tulsa , all but destroying any chance the team had to go to a bowl game this season, but it lost its starting quarterback as well.  Dayne Crist had to leave the game in the first half after rupturing the patellar tendon in his left knee -- nearly a year to the day he tore the ACL in his right knee -- ending his season.

Now we learn that Crist isn't the only starter the Irish are going to be missing the rest of this season.  Running back Armando Allen did not play in the Tulsa loss, battling a hip injury, and on Sunday Brian Kelly said that Allen is going to undergo surgery on his hip.  A surgery that will not only end his season, but his college career as well.

"Armando, we're setting up a potential surgery for him," Kelly told the Chicago Tribune . "We dressed him so he could run out of the tunnel one last time, because we were pretty certain he's not going to be able to play again.... He has a right and left torn cartilage in the hip, I think specifically the labrum. Very, very unusual. We treated the first one. If you watched him in the Navy game, he played hard, he played with great passion, but he did not have that second gear he had early in the year. We have not concluded it with 100 percent certainty until the surgery is done, but we believe some of this was a preexisting condition."

Allen had 514 yards and two touchdowns this season, and was on pace for the best season of his career in South Bend.  As it is, that career will come to an end with 2,144 rushing yards and 8 touchdowns.

Obviously, at 4-5 with games against USC and Utah remaining on the schedule, getting to six wins this season was going to be very hard for the Irish to do. Now that they'll be without their starting quarterback and running back, it'll be just about impossible.
Posted on: October 27, 2010 8:09 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2010 9:35 pm

Notre Dame assistant killed in high-wind accident

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Terrible news from South Bend today, as Notre Dame student Declan Sullivan was killed when his hydraulic film tower tipped over. Here's how Irish Sports Daily described the incident:

The accident happened at approximately 4:50 p.m. at the LaBar Practice Complex, located on the southeast side of campus. The student was filming Notre Dame football practice for the Department of Athletics from a hydraulic scissor lift when the incident occurred. The student was transported to Memorial Hospital in South Bend, where he later died.

As Chicago Breaking Sports noted at the time of the accident, the tower fell onto a street that's adjacent to the practice field where the student was filming.

“We are deeply saddened by this tragic loss,” Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president, said in a statement. “Our hearts go out to the student’s family and friends and our prayers and profound sympathies are with them during this incredibly difficult time. The loss of someone so young is a terrible shock and a great sadness. Our entire community shares in the family’s grief.

This is the second tragedy to befall Notre Dame since Brian Kelly took over at the end of last season; recall that just this past April, recruit Matt James died in a Spring Break accident.

Tragedies like these can't be overcome; that's not the way life works. They can be worked through, to an extent, and the Fighting Irish players and staffers are fortunate to be in an environment where cooperation, trust, and camaraderie are already part of their day-to-day culture. That's how they'll get through the roughest emotional stretches this, and it'll be a transformative event in their lives all the same, but if they had any compunctions about depending on their fellow teammates in times of need, those must surely be gone now.

Sullivan was only 20. How dreadfully awful for him to die so soon. Our thoughts are with his family and the Notre Dame community.

[UPDATE: Name added and age corrected.]

Posted on: October 26, 2010 12:10 pm
Edited on: October 26, 2010 4:36 pm

Notre Dame's Kerry Neal has the cheap shot down

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Notre Dame linebacker Kerry Neal is in his senior season, and since Neal came to South Bend, the Irish have gone 20-25 which is probably not what Neal thought he was signing up for.  Something that is no doubt frustrating for Neal, the rest of his team, and fans of the once proud tradition at Notre Dame.  Though those frustrations, while understandable, certainly do not condone actions like this.

That's Neal stomping on Navy slotback John Howell during Navy's 35-17 stomping of the Irish on Saturday.  Head coach Brian Kelly is yet to address this play, and who knows if he's even aware of it at this point, but if he is then you would think that Neal would be suspended for at least a game.

It was a gutless act, and one that needs to be punished.

Hat tip: Her Loyal Sons via SportsByBrooks

UPDATE: During Brian Kelly's press conference on Tuesday afternoon the head coach said that he was aware of the play, but that he wouldn't be punishing Neal.  Which is just, well, disturbing.
Posted on: October 23, 2010 1:33 pm
Edited on: October 23, 2010 2:30 pm

Navy running over Notre Dame

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The days of Notre Dame 's 43-game win streak over Navy seem like a very long time ago.  At halftime in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the Midshipmen look like they're ready to pick up their third win over the Irish in the last four years, leading 21-10 at the half.

Notre Dame's defense is just being gashed by the option attack of Navy, as the Middies have put together scoring drives of 99 and 71 yards, with Alexander Teich , Gee Gee Green and Ricky Dobbs exploiting huge holes and missed assignments all day.  Navy tacked on another touchdown just before the half after Dayne Crist threw an interception to leave a short field for the Midshipmen.

The defining play of the first half came on Notre Dame's first drive, when facing a fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line, Crist was stuffed on a quarterback sneak.  Navy then countered with that 99-yard touchdown drive, 84 of which came courtesy of Teich on a 54-yard run up the middle and a 30-yard touchdown catch on a screen pass.

Brian Kelly said before the game that wide receiver Michael Floyd, who has been battling a hamstring injury all week, would only play in an emergency.  I wonder if being down 21-10 at halftime constitutes one?

Posted on: October 21, 2010 10:12 am
Edited on: October 21, 2010 10:16 am

Notre Dame's Floyd: 'I'm going to play'

Posted by Chip Patterson

After a brutal early season schedule that left Notre Dame in a 1-3 hole, the Irish have rattled off three straight wins and put them back in position to make a run at the postseason.  Which of course is the worst time to be dealing with injury issues, particularly in the receiving corps.  But with tight end Kyle Rudolph out for the season, Theo Riddick sitting out with an ankle, and Michael Floyd nursing a hamstring, the Irish could be looking at taking the field against Navy without their three leading receivers.  However, Floyd claims he will be playing on Saturday, despite sitting out Wednesday's practice.  

''I'll tell you right now I'm going to play,'' Floyd said after practice. ''I don't know how much I'm going to play. But we'll see."

Head coach Brian Kelly has officially listed Floyd as a game time decision.  While Floyd has confidence that in his self-assessment, the Notre Dame training staff will likely be extra attentive to the injury after Kyle Rudolph stressed a similar injury to the point of needing surgery.  Floyd played through the injury already against Western Michigan.  While he favored the hamstring at times, it did not slow his production.  Floyd led all receivers with nine catches for 157 yards and three touchdowns.  

The Irish also expect to get a healthy Armando Allen back in the lineup, after being limited against Western Michigan with a hip-flexor.  Getting healthy on the offensive side will be crucial against the Midshipmen.  They can slow a game down with their option attack, making each Irish offensive possession even more important.  If Notre Dame cannot execute their offense, it could be a long day for the Irish defense.

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Posted on: October 11, 2010 3:05 pm
Edited on: October 11, 2010 3:08 pm

Notre Dame TE Rudolph may rest for a week

Posted by Chip Patterson

Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph has struggled all season with a hamstring injury.  There seems to be doubt each week as to whether the 6-6 junior will be able to go for the Irish, and each week he is back on the field.  Rudolph had five catches for 38 yards in the 23-17 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday, but sat out the final series due to the hurting leg muscle.  

Rudolph has been playing through the injury all season, according to head coach Brian Kelly.  After Saturday's press conference, Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune suggests that the tight end might be shut down for a week.

"He's been struggling all year. He's a tough kid, he wants to keep going out there," Kelly said after the game. "It's probably at that point where you have to make a decision to shut him down for a week or you keep playing through it."

It is hard to pick out a better time for the 3-3 Irish to rest Rudolph than the week they face Western Michigan at home.  With Navy, Tulsa, Utah, Army, and USC all left on the schedule, this week's contest appears to be the best time to let Rudolph's hamstring heal as much as possible.  The Irish are just three wins away from being bowl eligible again, and they will need all the weapons they have as the season comes to a close to get there.

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Posted on: September 20, 2010 11:39 am
Edited on: September 20, 2010 11:40 am

Brian Kelly's not worried about a play clock

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Over the last few years under Charlie Weis Notre Dame fans have become pretty used to suffering some punches to the gut late in games.  Still, there probably weren't many more that hurt worse than the loss to Michigan State on Saturday night in East Lansing.  Of couse, as fan bases are wont to do following a heart-breaking loss,  Irish fans began looking for someone to blame afterward.

As is usually the case, the blame in this game landed at the feet of the officials.  A lot of people claimed that the Spartans had not gotten the snap off on their fake field goal attempt in time to beat the play clock.  Brian Kelly heard all these complaints, and guess what?

He doesn't care.

Irish coach Brian Kelly didn't share the outrage over the non-call preceding a game-winning fake field goal for a touchdown.

"We're splitting hairs on what happened at the end of the game," Kelly said Sunday. "Could there have been zero on (the clock) before it was snapped? Yeah, there's that possibility. But I haven't spent much time thinking or complaining about that as much as, we gotta defend the play."

Did the play start on time?  No.  You can check the video evidence for yourself if you like.

A fifth of a second. 

So, yes, the snap didn't get off in time, but think about how long a fifth of a second is for, well, a second.  If an official is keeping his eyes on the play clock, once that thing hits zero by the time his eyes move from the clock to the action on the field that ball has not only been snapped, it's in the holder's hands.

Which leaves bitter Notre Dame fans with two options here.  They can either build some kind of super officiating robot, with eyes faster than time itself, or they can do what the video suggests.

Deal with it.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com