It's not quite official, but Brian Kelly announced to his football team today that he will be accepting the head football coaching position at the University of Notre Dame. An official announcement should be coming tomorrow.
I like the hire, and while it's not the "home run" hire that Meyer or Stoops would have been, it's certainly at least a lead off triple.
If you want to know more about Kelly's background, please read my post earlier this week.
The thing that gives me the most hope about Brian Kelly is that he has a strong history of coaching kids to perform above their athletic ability. He's taken a Cincinnati team that had a bunch of unheralded kids,a nd has led them to an undefeated season and a #3 ranking in his third season on campus.
That tells me that this guy knows how to teach kids fundamentals, which is the one thing that has been sorely lacking under Weis' regime. Weis relied too much on athletic talent and didn't spend enough time drilling fundamentals.
There are many concerns about Kelly being bandied about on message boards, but most of them, near as I can tell, are misinformed.
First, let's look at the "Kelly can't recruit nationally" argument. Here are the last 6 years worth of rankings of recruiting classes on Rivals.com for Cincinnati:
Before Kelly: average 98th recruiting class
During Kelly: average 58th recruiting class
That means that Kelly has built Cincy's talent base from a program that couldn't get anyone to come to campus into the top third in the country in recruiting.
Also, much has been made about Kelly's lack of experience at a major program. People apparently feel that the Big East is somehow not a big time conference, despite their automatic BCS bid. He doesn't have any idea what's coming under the spotlights at Notre Dame.
Now, to be fair, I don't think even Urban Meyer and Bob Stoops have any idea what it's like to work under the microscope that is the Notre Dame fan base. But, I hardly think that Utah and Bowling Green were better preparation the spotlight for Urban Meyer than Central Michigan and Cincinatti were for Kelly. And nobody seemed to complain about Meyer's ability to handle the spotlight four years ago. And I have never heard of anything controversial linked to Brian Kelly - no crazy comments, no off the field issues, nothing. Not even a hint of NCAA violations. Please, someone correct me if I'm wrong.
A lot of people complained about the "tweeting" issue when Kelly announced that he would listen to Notre Dame, and again when he said he wouldn't be interviewing on Tuesday. That it was somehow amateurish. I disagree. He was very careful in stating that he would listen, rather than issuing vague denials or outright lies like Saban did. He was open and honest about the process, and I'm certain he had a conversation with Notre Dame about controlling the flow of information and in making the decision to release those tweets.
Too many people are so quick to read ulterior motives in the absence of real information.
In fact, I must say that Jack Swarbrick really impressed me with the way this search was handled. I have no idea whether he contacted anyone else but Brian Kelly. And that's a good thing. There was no egg on our face from being left standing at the altar by Stoops or Meyer. There was no public outing of his whereabouts or that of the Notre Dame plane. In fact, the lid on this search was as tight as any I've ever seen at a major program.
Remember when Alabama hired Saban, they were publicly rebuffed by Rich Rodriguez first. And Florida, while they did wrap up the deal with Urban Meyer, could have been just as publicly humiliated as Notre Dame had we managed to pull Meyer to South Bend.
The news "leaks" from the media were all from unnamed sources, and all appeared to ultimately be from unreliable sources. Indeed, the whole "rumor" about Bielema (a total hoax) came from the fact that there was no other information out there, and so the media was forced to rely on whatever it could scrape together to drive readership onto their site.
I think Kelly is a great hire for Notre Dame, and with all of the talent stocked up by Coach Weis, he should be able to get this team performing at a top level in short order.
And if any of those fair weather malcontent posters on NDNation that don't want to support the new coach have extra tickets, I'll gladly take them off your hands. Just shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.