There's a reason Brian Kelly screams profanities at his Notre Dame players
BY MARK POTASH firstname.lastname@example.org September 7, 2011 4:08PM
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly drew some criticism for screaming profanities at his players during Saturday's loss to South Florida. | AP
Updated: September 8, 2011 9:52AM
The issue with Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly isn’t whether he’s going over the line by berating his players with profanities on the sideline during games. It’s WHY he’s berating his players with profanities on the sideline during games.
Kelly getting in the face of Dayne Crist after a bad series isn’t a new thing. It happened often last season. But Kelly’s ire quickly reached a new level in the opener against South Florida because, I believe, he’s coming to the realization that he inherited a group of nice guys from solid backgrounds that he can’t turn into his kind of football player.
Notre Dame has talent. They have good football players. But the roster Kelly inherited is loaded with soft-spoken, easy-going, type-B personalities. Their defense, the strength of the team, is led by the supremely talented but mild-mannered linebacker Manti Te’o. Even at its best, the notable characteristic of the Irish defense it’s that it doesn’t have a mean bone in its body.
Safety Harrison Smith is a quality Division I football player who typifies this defense — he can take advantage of opportunities, but he doesn’t create them. At Cincinnati, Kelly inherited a safety who was no more accomplished than Smith — Haruki Nakamura. A national judo champion in high school, Nakamura had more interceptions (four) and more tackles-for-loss (5½) in one year under Kelly than he had in his first three years at Cincinnati. He was a ‘‘ball-magnet’’ who made the all-Big East team, became a sixth-round draft pick and is in his fourth season with the Baltimore Ravens.
That’s exactly what Kelly isn’t getting at Notre Dame. And as much as he embraced the players he inherited, it’s seems as if it’s finally evident to him that he can’t turn these players into the kind of overachievers that made him the national coach of the year at Cincinnati. They just don’t have it in them.
All I know is that the first time Kelly faced South Florida with Cincinnati, his unranked Bearcats scored touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams IN THE FIRST QUARTER, forced eight turnovers in all and committed only two in a 38-33 victory over the 18th-ranked Bulls in Tampa.
Saturday, No. 16 Notre Dame committed five turnovers, forced none and lost 23-20 at home.
It remains to be seen whether Brian Kelly can even recruit the type of player he needs at Notre Dame. But considering his considerable resume, you at least have to give Kelly a chance to get his own players on the field to find out if he can work the same magic at Notre Dame that he did at Cincinnati and Central Michigan.