A goodbye letter to former Notre Dame leading man Brian Kelly.
There is a lot you can say about Brian Kelly’s tenure in South Bend. Namely that he had multiple opportunities to win a national championship and he failed every single time. Throw onto the fire the multiple player scandals, vacated wins and covering up the death of Declan Sullivan, also the alleged cover up that led to the suicide of a student after she was assaulted by former player Prince Shembo and it gets worse. Brian Kelly’s tenure as the leading man of the Notre Dame Football team is viewed very differently by a few different sections of Notre Dame fans.
Some fans want to thank Brian Kelly for returning the Fighting Irish back to relevance and some view him as a snake who abandoned the team after the 2021 season. Then it gets tougher to think about when you remember the losses at home to South Florida, Tulsa, Navy and Cincinnati. Or the countless times Brian Kelly didn’t have the team ready to play in a big time game and the Irish were embarrassed on national television. How about the so-called glass ceiling he said Notre Dame has, how does that make you feel as a fan of the Fighting Irish?
No matter how you view the tenure of Brian Kelly and how you feel about Brian Kelly the person, one fact remains and it is that he failed as his ultimate goal and that’s bringing a title back to Notre Dame. Not even a full year of a Marcus Freeman recruiting cycle should show you that this program is heading in a better direction and it’s not going to take multiple 8-5 and 9-4 seasons to show results. The Fighting Irish program may be in a better place than it was before Kelly got here BUT the terrible moments for me far outweigh the wins, the moments, and everything else.
No matter what people want to say, Brian Kelly is not the all-time winningest coach in the history of Notre Dame football because of those vacated wins from the 2012 and 2013 seasons. In fact the only game that counted in 2012 was the absolute beatdown Alabama gave us in the
2013 National Championship Game. For me Brian Kelly will always be among Charlie Weiss and Tyrone Willingham instead of Lou Holtz and Frank Leahy. His tenure in my opinion will always be remembered as a failure, not a success because he failed to deliver and left us with nothing but disappointment for over a decade.
Then he left us high and dry less than a month before a New Year’s Six Bowl Game just like he left on a recruiting visit with Tobias Merriweather when he found out he was wanted in Baton Rouge instead. Thankfully Merriweather is still going to play for the Fighting Irish program in the coming years. But this program, the 2022-23 team and this school are better off for it, without the dark cloud that is Brian Kelly casted over it.
The Future Of Brian Kelly And Notre Dame
So enjoy your 95 million dollars, and your luxury stay in Louisiana. But at the end of the day, some of us Irish fans will be smiling from ear to ear when your buyout comes before half of your ten-year deal is over. When your ego that made you think you can win in the SEC, suddenly comes to the realization that the great Brian Kelly can’t win the big games and those 8-5 seasons creep back in.
The truth is this, the “glass ceiling” was never on top of the University Of Notre Dame or “The House That Rockne Built”. In fact it was on top of Brian Kelly himself. It was a glass box that he enclosed himself in and it dragged Notre Dame football to some of the lowest depths in program history. It brought scandals, embarrassing losses, no championships, and losing seasons like the 2016 debacle.
The Brian Kelly era is over on the Indiana Plains, and Notre Dame is better for it. The Echos are louder than ever, and the mountain top is within reach again, and one day soon, the Fighting Irish will return to the place that they rightfully belong on top of that mountain no thanks to you, and your massive ego that set you up for failure here and allowed yourself to be placed within a box that is about as real as your southern accent.