Like many die-hard Irish fans, I am a frequent reader of NDNation.com, one of the leading Notre Dame fan sites. I have long since stopped posting regularly, because I find that there is a cadre of pessimists and realists on that board that shout down any unabashed optimism as lacking intelligent thought.
One recent post stated "there is a difference between optimism, and blind unadulterated and unabashed sycophantic fanboy optimism."
My question is this - does believing that we have a legitimate shot at the national title this year mean that you are engaging in blind unadulterated and unabashed sycophantic fanboy optimism?
What happened to the Notre Dame I grew up with?
I remember vividly the wild optimism that came with an 8-0 start under Tyrone Willingham, and even more clearly the national title dreams that accompanied the Irish into that epic battle against Southern Cal in Weis' first season as well. I was only knee-high to a grasshopper, but Faust came out of the gates with a big win over LSU, launching them to the top spot in the polls for 1 week.
Both of those coaching tenures ended up crashing and burning, but have we as a fan-base become so jaded and disenfranchised that we no longer believe in the magic of the Fighting Irish?
Besides, it's not like we have no evidence of Kelly's ability to coach. Keep in mind, Brian Kelly won every single game he coached last year - at Cincinnati. Every one. With the additional resources available to him here at Notre Dame, is it really so far-fetched to believe he can do the same here? And it's not like this is his first rodeo - he's been a successful head coach in college for over 20 years now. He did it at Grand Valley State, he did it at Central Michigan, he did it at Cincinnati, and there's no reason to believe he won't do it here.
Sure, there's the installation of a new offense and defensive scheme. But unlike last time we went down this road, this team isn't very lacking in talent or depth. Sure, we're a little shallow at corner and safety. But the overall talent level here is at a level it hasn't been since Lou Holtz. We have a 5-star rated QB (Crist), 5-star rated WR (Floyd), 5-star rated RB (Wood), 5-star rated TE (Rudolph) and a 5-star rated LB (Te'o). And most of the other positions are 4-star talent and loaded with depth, especially on the all-important offensive line.
Our opposing coaches have the disadvantage of not having scouting material on how Kelly will use this talent in his schemes, and will be scrambling all year to figure out how to combat us. And with all of the skill position talent, all but maybe one or two of the teams we face will be quite simply outmatched in terms of athleticism when we're on offense.
If you watch the practices, the boys are out there having fun, practicing high-tempo, high-energy, and (dare I say it?) high-fun. They are focused and energized and they believe in their new coach and staff.
So, call me an unabashed sycophantic fanboy if you want. But I believe in this coach, and I believe in this team. And I believe not only that we can, but that we WILL win 'em all this year. Because We Are N.D. Count it.