Plenty of college football coaches find themselves entering the 2017 season on the “hot seat,” but perhaps none head into this campaign with more to lose than Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly.
He is the head coach of one of the most prestigious schools and programs int he country after all, and after an 4-8 season last year and a bumpy offseason, there’s a chance Notre Dame walks away from him if he can’t right the ship this season.
And while Notre Dame may actually benefit from firing Kelly and moving on, Pat Forde of Yahoo.com thinks that there is a way the head man can save his job.
Recently speaking with Dan Patrick Forde had this to say about Kelly:
“If you’re 8-4 or better I think he’s okay. [Notre Dame athletic director] Jack Swarbrick wants to keep him. He really does. They re-tooled the staff and Swarbrick was very much a part of the re-tooling of the staff and making it get to a place where Kelly feels like they can win and turn it around right now,” Forde said. They’ve recruited extremely well. They’ve got good player on top of good player at most positions now. They’ve just got to get out of their own way — stop beating themselves in games. And hopefully get some luck with injuries because the last couple of years have been hard on them from that standpoint.”
Unless the fans are openly and aggressively revolting against the program — which Notre Dame fans will never do — the only person whose opinion really matters is the athletic director’s, and if Swarbrick likes Kelly he’s going to find a way to keep him.
The underlying report here is that Notre Dame apparently still believes Kelly can get the job done, and it’s worth noting that solid efforts on the recruiting trail can go a long way towards healing a program very quickly.
After all, talent wins football games.
Still, it’s worth noting that it’s the coach that puts the players in a position to succeed, or not succeed, and Kelly has already admitted that he didn’t do a good job of that in 2016.
If Kelly gets Notre Dame back into rarified college football air none of these talking points matter. But can he do it again?
That’s the big question that will be answered in 2017-18.