Brian Kelly on Why He Won’t Coach Cincinnati in the Bowl Game: “I’ve got work to do now at Notre Dame”December 14, 2009 – 9:40 am by Chris Fedor
During his time at Cincinnati, Kelly helped coach his Bearcats to an astonishing 34-6 record. He captured two Big East titles at Cincinnati, was named a three-time coach of the year in the Conference, led his team to two BCS Bowl appearances and was named National Coach of the Year this past season for leading his team to an undefeated regular season. Because of his success at Cincinnati, he is now going to get the chance to do what three other coaches recently have tried and that’s put Notre Dame back to the level of “elite” in College Football. I have no issues with him taking the Notre Dame job. I can understand completely how it can be a dream come true for him and he probably wasn’t going to stay in Cincinnati forever. The problem is, the season is not over.
After leading his team to an undefeated record and as the players are getting ready for the biggest game in the history of the program, Kelly has decided that he will not coach the team in the Sugar Bowl. I think he should finish what he started this season. I understand that he has a job to do at Notre Dame, but the season is not over yet. If a college football player decided to leave college early and go onto the NFL, he wouldn’t skip the bowl game. He would begin the pre-draft process once the season is over, once the bowl game is over. Brian Kelly’s job is not finished and Cincinnati’s season isn’t over yet. All of his players fought their butts off to put Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl. All his players fought their butts off to capture a Big East title and go undefeated in the regular season. And I think as the leader of the program, he should be there to finish the job he started and then move on to Notre Dame after.
Brian Kelly joined The Scott Van Pelt Show on ESPN Radioto talk about taking the job at Notre Dame, having to deal with the expectations that come with being the head coach of the Irish, and why he can’t coach Cincinnati in the bowl game.
On how it feels now knowing that he is the coach at Notre Dame:
“Cool. It obviously is a special day for me and my family. Growing up as an Irish Catholic in Boston and watching Notre Dame football, just a great and incredible day for me.”
On when he felt that getting the job at Notre Dame could become reality:
“Well there’s a pragmatic side to it. It’s Notre Dame. You don’t get it because you’re winning eight or nine games, you have to be consistently successful. I thought as we continued to build our program at Cincinnati, I wasn’t looking for another job, but clearly as we were building, winning games and going to a second BCS, you start to think if something does change there you’re prepared for that challenge. I think it’s a process that you work up towards.”
On the expectations of being a Head Coach at Notre Dame:
“It’s a high bar. Clearly they want to be the very best. They’ve got 96 percent graduation rate among football players. As you know of the top ten in the BCS, Cincinnati was the highest at 75 percent. It’s a very, very high bar academically and it’s the same when it comes to football. Those are high expectations, but I took this job with my eyes wide open. I want to be great. I want to be around greatness and that’s the challenge here at Notre Dame. That’s what the lure is to come here to Notre Dame.”
On how he feels about some of the things that his former players have said and how they’ve reacted:
“Understandable. Transition is difficult. My kids cried for two days or a day and a half. It’s very emotional when those things happen. We had a very strong bond as a football team. You can’t win all your games without a closeness and a bond, but I did the right things along the way. I was honest with our football team, I told them when I first had conversations with Notre Dame and I told them when I made the decision. As a source of information, I was professional, I handled it with integrity, but I clearly understand the feelings when you have this kind of transition.”
On why he can’t coach his team in the bowl game this year:
“I’ve got work to do now. I loved my time at Cincinnati, I love those kids, but we have to build for Notre Dame. We’re going to leave the staff back there, Jeff Quinn who was with me for 19 years is the interim coach and they’ll do a great job. I need to now get to work for Notre Dame.”
On why things didn’t work with the previous Head Coaches at Notre Dame:
“Well, I don’t know. I don’t have the insight as to why they weren’t successful. I can tell you why I’m successful and what we’ll do here at Notre Dame. We’ll recruit the right kind of guys that fit the mission of the university, they gotta love to play this game of football, they’re gonna be passionate about what they do, we’re going to pay attention to detail and we’re going to be disciplined and organized. That’s been me for 19 years. I can’t really tell you why they didn’t do it. I wasn’t here. I don’t know what happened, but I can tell you what I’m going to do. That’s how we’ll move forward here at Notre Dame and I expect that’s going to translate into being successful.”