Brian Kelly Wants to Keep Notre Dame’s Independent Status

July 1, 2010 – 10:45 am by Chris Fedor

College football has gone through a lot of changes recently.  Some conferences have expanded and some conferences have gotten smaller, but one thing remains the same.  When there was talk about the Big 12 dismantling and other conferences expanding, some people felt that Notre Dame would be a perfect team to join a conference.  They have a tremendous history, they have a loyal fan-base, they have a lot of tradition and history, and now they have a new head coach.

Brian Kelly has been successful everywhere he has gone, but this might be his biggest challenge.  After resurrecting the Cincinnati football program, Kelly is now in South Bend and will take over a program that has underachieved the last couple of seasons under Charlie Weis.  It’s safe to say the expectations are quite high at Notre Dame for their new head coach.

Brian Kelly joined WJOX in Birmingham with Paul Finebaum to talk about what the biggest adjustment for him is now that he is at Notre Dame, why they wanted to remain an independent, and the expectations at Notre Dame.

On what the biggest adjustment is for him now that he is in Notre Dame:

“Coast to coast, recruiting, 250 alumni groups across the country and obviously the footprint is national for Notre Dame relative to its fan base and quite frankly the interest in its program.  I’ve gone from taking a drive up to Columbus on occasion when I was at Cincinnati to being on a plane from New York to LA.”

On what Notre Dame was thinking with all the expansion:

“(Laughing) We were thinking the Mountain West.  It’s obviously shifting out there.  It’s a dynamic time in college football and it’s never been more popular than it is.  I think we saw that with the conferences and how it didn’t really affect basketball as much as the football schools we’re moving.  Clearly we’ve got to keep our ear to the ground.  Our Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick has obviously been in constant communication with all the players but we’re able to stay in an independent status right now.  I’d like to keep it but were also realists and we have to be able to react and have a plan if this turns into super conferences.”

On how difficult the expectations will be to handle at Notre Dame:

“It’s much like Alabama.  You don’t have much time.  Nick Saban went into Alabama and transitioned to a championship team in very short order and we’re gonna have to do the same thing at Notre Dame.  There’s no patience for it any more so it doesn’t matter what you say.  You gotta get it done right away and we’re gonna have to get this football team playing at a national, high level and be a national caliber football team early.  We don’t have the luxury of waiting around.  It’s been too long since Notre Dame has been in that picture and we gotta get it done early.”

On whether or not it has hit him that he is the Head Coach at Notre Dame:

“If I came in the office everyday thinking I was the head coach at Notre Dame, Id jump out my window with the expectations.  I’m focused on the process and the process for me is to work on winning every day.  All the attention to detail, all the things that are necessary to build a championship program, that’s really what I focus on.  I did those every step of the way and I’m gonna continue to do them at Notre Dame.  That’s all I know.  I’ve got 20 years experience as a head coach and I don’t know how to do it any other way.  I will rely on my instincts of working on winning every single day and focus on the process not being the head coach at Notre Dame.”

Listen to Brian Kelly on WJOX in Birmingham here

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