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  • Fixing Notre Dame Football

    by SEE

    (The Rock Report | Notre Dame Football News) – Whether or not Brian Kelly ever succeeds at a level that will validate his selection as Notre Dame’s latest football coach, he’s set in motion much needed changes directed at challenges that have hindered Notre Dame’s ability to play championship football.  Many are small process steps, others are common sense ideas that just weren’t common at ND and some are progressive thinking.

    Jack Swarbrick emphasized that Kelly was hired for his ability to run a football “program;” an implicit acknowledgment that, in his analysis of Notre Dame football, failure went far beyond Xs and Os.  When Kelly took the job he was asked about recruiting, which fans were understandably worried about at the time, his answer took some aback, (paraphrasing) that he had far more important issues to fix internally first.

    A year and change later, many of those changes have become evident.   When diagnosing under-performance, the best companies look beyond skill and root cause “will” and “hill” issues that lead to under-performance.  Many (if not most) issues are blamed on skill (i.e. “he just doesn’t have ‘it’”) when the real cause is lack of motivation or some unseen environmental factor that inhibits development or performance.

    It’s always instructive to see people who were low performing under previous leaders become high performers when a leadership change is made.  Likewise, when new football coaches take over, players who seemed to lack “it” suddenly find it.  Watching Harrison Smith progress from a punch-line to team captain and likely early round draft pick has been heart-warming to see, but we saw a similar breakout year for Maurice Stovall under Weis.  What distinguishes Kelly is that he has a track record and clearly articulated processes to achieve consistent development.

    At the ND coaches clinic, Kelly & Kelly (okay and Urban who actually has won two NCs) all focused, not on Xs and Os, but on the importance of leadership and having a plan to build and structure a successful program.

    Many of Kelly’s changes over the past year have been under the radar, targeting  inadvertent hills; removing unseen barriers to success that have more to do  with efficient process than game day decision making.  And those issues are especially critical at Notre Dame which asks more of its student athletes than most schools, yet Notre Dame created barriers that made it more difficult to overcome those institutional obstacles (oft cited by the media as reasons Notre Dame would never return to greatness.)

    Here’s what I’ve been able to cobble together.

    Removing the Hills

    • The Training Table initiative was already under way (covered in Let Them Eat Steak ), but  Kelly advocated to have it in the “Gug” where players could be easily observed and they could use the meal to form more cohesive bonds.  The word ‘brotherhood’ has been used by many recent recruits.
    • Likewise Kelly moved study hall to the ‘Gug’ so players didn’t have to bicycle all over campus and back.  A small move on the surface, but with all of the student and football demands on players, having them trek around campus created an unneeded hurdle.  Many players complained that they didn’t even have time to eat right.  Knowing this, Notre Dame’s annual late season swoon isn’t hard to understand.
    • Kelly recently moved practice to 8am.  “It allows our players to get in, get their work done and really be focused the entire day on their academics, come back here for dinner and then certainly it keeps us well below (the 20-hour limit) and allows our players to have a lot of energy as we get, as you know, later in the academic year.”
    • The other major process change Kelly made was evening out recruiting responsibilities across the staff and putting a specific plan in place.  Under Weis, a few coaches carried much of the recruiting load.  Under Kelly, each assistant works a region, carries their own weight and supports the other coaches.  Kelly also brought in a new video system to allow the coaches to evaluate player tape, recommend it to the position coaches, do base due diligence and get offers out.  It’s not even April, but the staff has close to 100 offers out right now.  Noticeably, there weren’t any gaping holes in recruiting this last cycle, a  problem that has contributed to massive swings in on-the-field performance.
    • Kelly works very hard at creating staff cohesion.  First, he hired for it, but he also structures time for give and take within the staff to challenge each other and created specific steps of leadership for his coaches to follow.  To enforce those steps he spends a lot of  time  coaching the coaches, something he acknowledged he did a poor job with last year (see more in Kelly and Leadership, Part II: Coaching the Coaches. ) The level of cooperation seems to be light years ahead of the dysfunction of the Weis regime.

    Improving the Skill

    • I’ve previously noted the integration of strength training at a coordinator level (covered in depth here.)  From all reports there was little accountability under Weis and accordingly uneven development.
    • Likewise, the interaction between Notre Dame’s medical staff and the team has long been a concern from those close to the program.  Rob Hunt was brought in as the head football athletic trainer and his impact has already surfaced (albeit in a minor way) in player comments.  Listening to Theo Riddick  say “Rob, will tell me when I’m ready” indicated a new level of integration for the training staff, much as Kelly integrates Paul Longo into the coaching staff.  As Kelly said, Rob “is already involved with our morning conditioning, getting a real handle on our players on a day to day basis. So excited to announce that, and from our standpoint, we’ll test him right away. He’s out there working with some of these guys immediately.”
    • Both Kellys run up tempo practices which, over the course of a season, gives them a significant advantage in development time.  If you can squeeze 25% more into a practice,over the course of week, you’ve engineered an extra full practice of repetitions.  That amounts to five extra days of practice time during the spring alone.  Both Kellys employ relatively simple offenses and use high tempo practices to get more repetitions to hone execution. In a time constrained practice environment, they can get more repetitions in the same amount of time. The other key payoff of that philosophy is that the high tempo practice helps condition the team.  According to Brian, Chip shares his emphasis on efficiency, “One of things he commented on and that I’d like to bring up is he takes great pride on the efficiency of his practice and what he saw out here that blew him away was our manager program here, how efficient all of our managers are. He goes, ‘I’ve never seen anything like this.”
    • Kelly’s focus on consistent messaging ensures the staff  speaks in the same voice. Last year you heard the word accountability parroted across the team, this year the clear message is execution and focusing on the little things.   Diaco mentioned that the coaches are developing catch phrases to keep the kids on point. He did a great job explaining that “knowing” vs. “thinking” can be the difference between being three yards away and diving for a tackle and driving through the ball carrier.  He observed that many times what we think is poor tackling is actually the result of a poor player decision  leaving him out of position and grasping. Overall, it’s fair to say that last year the team achieved some level of conscious competence.  This year the goal will be unconscious competence, where the end state is to not think, just do.  Many of the players have mentioned this in interviews.
    • Kelly has also embraced technology.  Quarterbacks are able to simulate game day decisions on software, they alternately wear helmet cameras so the staff can see what they see and the new practice video system (part of Declan Sullivan’s legacy) will allow the coaches to see many angles post practice.

    Creating Will

    • It would be great if college kids were self-motivating, but the fact is they have to be constantly motivated. As Lou said, “We should have turned this thing around a lot quicker than we did, because we had talent in ’86. They didn’t buy into it as quickly as needed, but each week we got more converts.” It remains to be seen if Kelly will be as successful, but Kelly cribbed Holtz’s focus on the three key building blocks of caring, commitment and trust.   Here’s a little Lou if you’re missing him.
    • The staff is now focused on finding the right combination of motivational tools for each player. Kelly said that at this time last year the staff just didn’t have the time to bring motivation down the individual player level across the team as they were working on putting in the big pieces of the program.  This year Kelly is emphasizing trying to find the right  motivation buttons that work for each player.   Research shows that sales managers who excel at adapting to the “developee” get 3x the performance out of their salespeople.   It’s an obvious point, but one that isn’t usually approached systematically.
    • Kelly and Longo turned weight training into an incentive system.  Players who perform well in the weight room are given a better shot on the field. Likewise, under-performance in the weight room is immediately noted and triggers staff intervention to “re-motivate” the player (hopefully before it shows up on the field.)  Players who continue to put forth a poor effort will see practice reps diminished.
    • Kelly uses every occasion to create team commitment. Kelly explained his theory behind the infamous 5am Camp Kelly, “it won’t make anyone a better player, but it will make them a more committed player.”  Kelly’s attempting to breed toughness and commitment, things that have been lacking since Lou.  Kelly was noticeably pleased by the recent shoving match in this weekend’s practice. Chris Watt recently shared that the 3 on 3 drill started before the Utah game had a noticeable effect on team toughness.
    • This final point will make some cringe, but Kelly has brought ESPN hype to the program.  The highlight video and the effects and the framework for the banquet were all “ESPNized” presumably in an effort to make the program more fun and appealing without losing tradition.  Kelly’s also attempted to breathe life into the “on life support” pep rally as well.  Whether it’s working or not, change is happening. If you’re wondering what that looks like you can judge for yourself:  Watch the Highlights | Watch the Awards Show

    None of this ensures excellence, but in total these changes (and just that Kelly’s aware of them) provide a very strong foundation for success.   Xs and Os are only important if the rest of the program is functioning well.  Kelly’s goal is to develop players who play harder, longer and execute better (play with unconscious competence)  to ultimately win games and he laid out a plan for the football program to support that goal.  The Weis vision of nasty was really an unfunded mandate.  You can’t be nasty if you’re not strong enough,  aren’t playing hard and aren’t executing at a high level against an overly complicated game plan that changes weekly.

    Questions about on the field decision making, assistants, offensive game-plan and ultimate success (national championships) aside, many of Notre Dame’s self-inflicted problems have been fixed, which fits in well with Kelly’s philosophy of “you can’t start winning until you stop losing.”

    ~ SEE


    60 Responses to “Fixing Notre Dame Football”

    1. Have been a Notre Dame fan for 46 years, GO IRISH, COACHING IS MANAGEMENT of PLAYERS, Our MANAGER is in PLACE.Barring injury, and some IRISH LUCK WE will be in a BCS BOWL . I need 4 tickets. Great Report.

    2. MICKYNDS says:

      The one consistent thing I see with Kelly is he is delivering. He hasn’t over promised and under delivered. We all wanted a hard working, nasty football team but never quite saw that.
      Coach Kelly laid some groundwork last year, explained what the expectations were and so far has been delivering on that message.

    3. It’s nice to read and hear what Kelly is doing to change the culture at ND Football. Being en advit follower of ND Football as well as all sports at ND! I read this article which is good but it really didn’t address the issue about the culture of ND Football and the University. Hre are some questionns I had from reading this article and theyare:
      1.) How serious is UND to being a football power like it use to be? I did not read anything about UND giving those an opportunity to play and it’s ok to have a B average and being really good at football (for example Zorich and Rice)?
      2.) Perhaps the University has heard the angry voices of how bad ND Football gotten and I’m talking about worse than the early 80’s! Is the University serious about being a power in football or just easing the masses so they will bring in revenue to ND?
      3.) Is the University willing to be satisfied with average to above average bowls instead of going to BCS Bowl?
      I know I will get flack for this and be told you need to support the team, university, and the players. But I think the university is dancing around this issue for a long time! They hide behind the fact that the players are here for an education. Which is true and I agree with that! BUT!…… If it wasn’t for football at UND then there won’t be a lot of things at UND! Again, I have said this before….UND you have to ask yourself, are you a Catholic University or an Ivy League Wannabe? It seem like you want to be the second instead of the first!

      • As a former student manager for the football program, I can assure you that everyone involved with Brian Kelly’s Program is 100% focused on becoming a football power house. The university deeply believes that academics and athletics can exists at any level. When the players are in class, they are not on the football field and vice versa. Notre dame may have harder expectations for student athletes than other schools, but there is probably no better school in the country for assistence and academic attention diven to student athletes. They are given the utmost support, so that football can be the focus when they are at football and school can be the focus when they’re at school. The two facets of their college experience don’t mesh. Secondly, no one plays sports to be mediocre, to settle for ‘above-average’ bowls. The goal is always to be the best of the best, a national championship caliber program. Kelly has taken pivotal steps to making that goal a work in progress, not just a dream, through behavioral and systematic changes within the program. You’re right, Notre Dame Football is a big reason that the University is such a special and highly touted institution, but there is certainly no sense of complacency for mediocre performance. Kelly has been with the program for just over a year. Give it some time, and I think that these changes will become more transparent to those not directly involved with the program. GO IRISH!

        • “Kelly has taken pivotal steps to making that goal a work in progress, not just a dream, through behavioral and systematic changes within the program.” This is pretty vague, can you expound on this sentence? Thanks.

        • Thanks Nick for the info. Appreciate it very much! sorry for the typos, just get a little excited when talking about ND Football! GO IRISH!!!!

      • Sorry for the typos. I’m on my phone in class haha!

    4. I still think the fact that ND has much, much, greater team depth, seniority, talent & competition throughout all levels of the program will be as big of a difference as any ESPN’izing, motivational bs.

      Its tough to make great strides when you’re only 1 or 2 deep throughout much of your roster. Being 3 deep or more will certainly help smooth out a lot of “bill” that come up in a college football season.

    5. Bottom line is wins. I said Kelly was in over his head at ND and hopefully I will be proven wrong. I predicted ND 7-5 last year and my early prediction for 2011 is 8-4. Bottom line after 3 seasons I think we all will know where ND football is headed.

      • The article doesn’t argue for you to change your opinion, nor does it argue that wins aren’t the arbiter of success, so I’m missing what your comment addresses. That Kelly’s ultimate success will be determined by wins isn’t debatable. Acknowledgment of positives, just like acknowledgment of negatives (like Kellys failure to run more last season) doesn’t require one to change an opinion. A string of positives (such as mentioned above) doesn’t portend ultimate success, just as a string of negatives doesn’t portend ultimate failure. That would be foolish. That written I’ve yet to see anyone identify anything specific that backs up the argument that Kelly’s in over his head. What specific area do you find him to be incapable? What is the skill that he lacks? That would help me understand what you base your opinion on.

      • mpsND'72 says:

        Except for your predictions, you are correct, Jimbo! The 3-Year Rule is “The Rule.”

      • Jimbo,

        But did you predict that we would drop to Navy and W Michigan and then beat Utah and USC? I think you predicted a team that would lost the big ones and get 7 of the easier wins. The most telling, (or encouraging,) aspect of last year absolutely cannot be ascertained from the record, but from how the team actually GOT BETTER by the end of the season for a change. That team that beat Utah, USC and Miami would not have lost to W Michigan or Navy, (or Michigan for that matter.)

        • borromini says:

          You mean losing to Tulsa and Navy…which was bad enough. Losing to W. Michigan would have caused a seismic riven in South Bend! 🙂

    6. Bob Nelis says:

      Is Kelly the man to bring back the “Thunder”? Simply look at the defensive recruits that “academic requirements” kept former Holtz from attracting to Notre Dame and the frozen tundra of Northern Indiana. Add to that ie, the development of Kona under the stewardship of Paul Longo. The coaching staff under Kelly exhibit the “Business Plan” of successful major corporations, and will rise to the top of college football, sooner than later.
      Think of the egg on the face of the majority of the “experts” that criticized the selection of VCU in the NCAA Tournament. The same will prove to be the same with those “experts” that said ND’s place in college football was a thing of the past.
      I’ve been following ND football since a my pre-teens, following the career of home town area ND great, Leon Hart, so I know ND football. I even had the opportunity in my professional hotel career to managing a hotel in downtown South Bend for a brief time.

    7. Great Article! In my opinion, What BK has done in a little over a year, is nothing short of remarkable. I don’t think people realize how bad the program had become under Davie, Willingham, and Weis. I believe players under those other coaches thought that they were entitled to be great–without putting forth the effort. BK has laid down a foundation for winning and success–you can just hear it with every word that comes out of his player’s mouths. Words like accountability, commitment, winning, trust, etc…is now often heard from a Notre Dame’s player’s mouth. This doesn’t just happen. Success, for the most part, is a choice. BK has implemented a formula for success and I guarantee great things soon!

      • Dan are you in New York? I once new a Dan Hogan from New York. It would be an extremely small world if you are the same person.
        (SEE please remove as you SEE fit.)

      • Great article. I think we sometimes underestimate the term “program” and it’s good to see that Coach Kelly gets that – that it involves so much more than x’s and o’s…The foundation for success must first be laid, and I hope I am right in saying that Kelly is getting that done in a big way. The one ingredient of Kelly’s that really strikes me is his CHARISMA – that intangible in his personality that I really didn’t see since Holtz coached the Irish. The winning will come…

    8. leocollins says:

      Best wishes to Coach Kelly and his staff. They are bringing back the type of Notre Dame football that Coach Ara and Coach Lou brought back to the campus. You can see the attention to detail that is so important. GO IRISH !

    9. Jimbo, Im curious as to why you think BK was in over his head from the start. I thought the exact opposite when he was hired.

      • James: I just feel that coaching ND is a completely different animal and maybe even more than people realize. No disrespect to Cincy but ND is just different. I also have to admit after watching one year of coaching I was not impressed at all. Some of the losses were just sickening to me. While they did salvage the season it still comes down to wins and losses. To me it seems like everyone is again jumping on the ND bandwagon. Does ND have better talent than Florida, Bama, LSU, OSU, Texas etc? IMO I say no especially on the defensive side of the ball.

        • What did you feel about Saban’s first year at Alabama or Meyer’s at Florida? Both were messes during the season. Saban was a NC coach already at that point with two “big time” programs. Did you catch Holtz’s first year at South Carolina?

          If it’s wins and losses that you go by, Kelly finished right in the pack with Meyer, Saban, Stoops, Carroll (actually toward the head of the pack.)

          What, specifically, is different about Cincy vs. ND that worries you? I bought this argument on its face until I broke it down and concluded it was an ill-thought out argument that “sounds” right. When you start getting specific you may realize that there isn’t as much there, there. Most of the things that make ND different are the very things Kelly has demonstrated ability in (motivating players, dealing with heavy work load, accountability, public profile, etc.)

          • Why is it when someone disagrees with the norm regarding ND football it then becomes an ill conceived argument? I personally do not believe Kelly is as good a coach as everyone says he is. I do not put much stock in these 4 and 5 star recruits as others do. IMO some coaches have it and other do not. Heck I was wrong on CW and I admit it.

            • borromini says:

              “Heck I was wrong on CW and I admit it.”

              Well at least you have experience in admitting that you’re wrong. It will make it that much easier for you to admit again…soon. 🙂

    10. El Kabong says:

      I’m sorry, but this Human Potential Movement stuff does absolutely nothing for me. Is all of this guaranteed to bring us better recruits or more wins? If not, what’s the point of any of it? Sure, there’s a value in running a program efficiently, but if it doesn’t improve the results, the efficiency itself is not worth mentioning or celebrating.

      • borromini says:

        Does the strength/conditioning program guarantees recruits/wins? Does the training table program guarantees recruits/wins? If not, what’s the point of any of it?

        • El Kabong says:

          Perhaps I should have said, “What’s the point of wildly celebrating any of it?”

          So ND is doing things they should have been doing before. OK, all fine well and good. But it’s being presented to us like we should be dancing in the streets over it. It’s like winning the recruiting national championship — if it doesn’t result in a real one, it’s just an artificial goal that has been achieved.

          I’m glad we’re not stepping on our cranks anymore. But I feel weird being asked to cheer about it.

          • Celebrating should not be read into the article, nor will you find it written therein. There is nothing celebratory, because there’s nothing to celebrate at 8-5.

            Cheering the positives, yes, just as we note and jeer the negatives and cheer any win on the field, in recruiting or otherwise. Pretty clear that celebrations will wait until rings are awarded. In the meantime, like all fans, we’ll decry the negatives (like our rushing game, over reliance on the QB and game calls) and cheer the positives.

            Celebrations can wait until theres something worth celebrating. When/if Kelly wins a National Championship, I may even celebrate “wildly”.

            • El Kabong says:

              These positives aren’t relevant enough to cheer, let alone cause to write a blog article about rehashed stuff. Write blog articles and cheer about wins, because right now, that’s all that matters.

            • We disagree. Chip Kelly’s number one priority is practice reps. Meyer agreed that scheme was not the reason for success, it’s the overall plan (it is from Kelly’s plan that these changes stem) that led to his success (or so he told the coaches this weekend.) They enable, among other things, more practice repetitions, better team cohesion, more physically fit players, commitment and clearer leadership. You can fail with them, but you can’t win without them. Short of posting wins, these are more important than most things fans focus on.

              I look at this like Diaco’s example. Fans focus on bad tackling when the real problem was lack of reps that led to a poor decision and left the tackler grasping. More reps with a talented player and suddenly they become good at tackling.

              Many of Weis’s problems IMO can be traced to problems that are noted here. These things are far more important, IMO. Happy to disagree and see how it plays out.

          • VADomer02 says:

            (Aw crap, I just wrote a big long response that got lost when I forgot to include my email. Anyway, it can probably be summed up as the following…)

            It’s the off-season. If you don’t want to read articles discussing anything other than wins and losses in actual games, then you might as well tune out and find another hobby until August.

      • Dude it just doesn’t happen! That is the whole point of the article–processes and protocol are now in place for success. Yes BK will be judged on wins–every coach is! But this is a means to end process that is now in place to reap the rewards!

        • El Kabong says:

          Processes and protocol mean bupkes. I’d rather read about wins than cheerleading over the training table.

          • There are REASONS why programs win! There are REASONS why programs lose. They are real and relevent reasons both ways. And every bit as important right now–you obviously have not been a successful coach or player because this is not something that someone would so easily dismiss. Winning just doesn’t happen! The last time I checked there we no games scheduled last Saturday to celebrate. But I do remember 4 straight to close the season–celebrate those. You sound like the old regime–wanting to win without working for it!

            • El Kabong says:

              I have no problem with working for victory. I just don’t see the point in everyone going all rah-rah fanboy over how fast practices are run and where the training table is. People who have great processes still lose. People who have crappy processes can still win. I’ll wait to cheer until we win, because how we go about it isn’t relevant.

            • Nobody should be in “rah rah” fan boy mode. There certainly isn’t any in this article, which frames all of this as a foundation while acknowledging major concerns. Anyone taking the above and running to glory in their heads is missing the point. A series of good positive changes is encouraging. It sets a decent floor. It’s also a sight for these sore eyes after witnessing a decade of bungling.

              With Weis, “fanboys” were debating scheme when the team was rotting out from underneath from lack of attention to the underpinnings noted above that make for a successful program. Players were out of shape, getting uneven medical attention, not working hard, over stressed, eating poorly and undisciplined.

              The things, as Meyer (who’s won at the highest level) and C Kelly emphasized, above are far more important than arguing the value of the spread. That’s fanboy 101.

          • don’t read it then! I enjoyed it!

          • During the coaching search, all we heard on NDN was “focus on the process” ad naseaum because the process was supposedly flawed (which I disagree with).

            And now “process and protocol mean bupkes” and “People who have great processes still lose. People who have crappy processes can still win.”

            Safe to assume that you weren’t in the “damn the hire because the process sucked” camp?

            • El Kabong says:

              Some processes are meaningful, and some processes are not. Deciding to have a training table is meaningful. Deciding what building to put it in is not. Deciding to have tutoring available is meaningful. Deciding what time it should start is not.

              I don’t find any of the processes listed in the article are particularly meaningful. I also believe that a lot of the content of this article has been covered already and don’t know the value of covering it yet again.

    11. i can sum this up quickly—–great read.

    12. Camarillo Brillo says:

      Excellent job, SEE.

      I do think these small things Kelly has done will be a net positive. Of course all that matters in this game is the Won-Loss record. The trend line is heading up slightly for ND after our 4-0 run to end the season. Yet the losses to Navy and Tulsa loom large. Those cannot easily be forgotten. This season ND will have Navy and Air Force, two very good teams with very challenging running attacks. Not to mention Andrew Luck and Stanford (who kicked ND’s ass last year), Denard Robinson and Michigan (who we absolutely must beat) and a very good Michigan State team. No breathers on this schedule.

      But it is interesting how Kelly has approached this job, and how much this approach differs from the one take by Charlie Weis.

      With Weis, it was all X’s and O’s. It was all “decided schematic advantage” or whatever the hell it was he said. Lots of slogans, lots of Joisey bluster. The hell of it is, Weis IS good at taking a team with talent and experience and getting the most out of them. I will always have fond memories of the 2005 season (except for the Ohio State game…and that damn overtime loss to MSU…for the record I am counting the SC game as a win for the Irish). But the leadership was not there.

      Kelly has those leadership qualities, which are evidenced by the changes he has made in the structure of the program. I am more hopeful now than I was in late October last year. And I am hoping that his in-game decisions will be more along the lines of Southern Cal and Miami and not Tulsa.

      Thanks for a great article, SEE.

    13. Drew Allen says:

      Our Lady of Victory, PRAY FOR US!

    14. A complete and balanced roster, an influx of new talent, coaching stability, a bowl victory, and a four-game winning streak all reflect favorably on the coaching and managerial ability of Brian Kelly. If I am Jack Swarbrick, I’m feeling pretty good right now about my choice of head-football coach!

    15. Longhornd says:

      Brain K has the ability but getting it done is another story. Its hard for ND to even get past Michigan or Michigan State. Not saying too much people. I will wait and see this year but I think they could win 8 games.

    16. mstrpln00 says:

      I wish people would stop bashing Charlie Weis and just get beyond it. The fact is that CW tried to get a training table instituted at ND from the moment he came on campus and was told that the University would “Study it”. This is amazing and shows a complete lack of commitment on the part of the administration to a winning football program. When mediocrity set in, Kevin White was dispatched and now Mr. Shwarbrick decides to get rid of Weis and add the training table, along with Kelly and all of the bells and wistles required for a amjor football program. I hope Coach Kelly is successful, but please do not put ND’s problems at the feet of a very underrated football coach in Charlie Weis.

      • Patrick Mikes '79 says:

        Nobody loved ND more than Charlie.
        Nobody wanted to win more than he did.

        But … a 35-27 record and the losses to Navy and Syracuse? How are these consistent with an “underrated” coach?

        • Nobody loved ND more than Charlie?? Is that a joke…I think Ty cared about ND more than Charlie did… Truth is no coach has been truley invested heart and soul into ND since Lou… and he still is. I am not going to say Charlie was a crappy coach…he was just the wrong coach… and I think is tailored better to be an O-Coordinator… I didn’t like his attitude, I didn’t feel enthusiasm, I just didn’t like his vibe….

          I feel like BK brought a spirit and new vigor that the players needed, I like his passion and intensity and I think the players feed off of that…They like having a coach that is out there running around with them at practice…Charlie could barely move

          Now I really don’t understand these people that are making arguments about this article…This was a great peice..GREAT….

          Whats being pointed out, is that ND needed much more than just a new face wearing a headset on the sidelines… The very inner workings of how the program is run needed to change… The changes that are discussed in this article are laying the foundation for a healthy functioning program…Maybe BK won’t be the guy thats holding up the NC trophy,,,but at least our program is running in a manor that looks to produce much more successful results…and hopefully these changes stay in effect no matter who is coaching…and for the record, I do believe that BK will take us back to the top….he has a fantasic network of coaches and trainers, and he sticks by his ideals…and you can see how they started to take root in the players..and are now growing…A program doesnt change over nite…but it def did over 8 games…

          Look at the intensity of our players, look at the size and speed that is developing, PLAYER DEVELOPMENT!!… I LOVE that our players are getting into shoving matches at practice…That shows the spirit, the competiveness, the intensity and mentality that we need!!!

          Ive been an Irish fan since I could talk,,we have all been thru the bad days…the coaches that are gonna change it all…the hype..the let downs… so of course I am cautious… but I dont think we are dealing with another 3-year coach…This guy is dedicated to our program and getting back to where we belong…and I believe he can do it…

          Go Irish!

          • borromini says:

            “…I think Ty cared about ND more than Charlie did…”

            Ok…you’re going to have to back this one up with some real specific evidence that TW cared more about ND than Weis.

            In my book, Ty “the outsider” never fully understood or embraced ND’s values; never showed in his last two years that he was capable of recruiting with the desire and drive necessary to succeed; and thought of ND Alums and faculty as intolerables.

            This can never be compared to Weis “the Alum” who may have failed as a head coach, but clearly showed a greater desire, drive and love for the values, culture and vision that is Notre Dame.

      • There’s enough blame to go around for everyone but Charlie Weis was the head guy–it stopped with him. The Training table is just 1 part. How about the constant turnover in coaches (i.e. philosphies)? How about he was unable to get any type of impact DL recruits on any consistent level (all good programs are built inside out)? How about the reports that his weight program was a joke? As I stated early, there are REASONS for success and there are REASONS for failure! This article is just merely pointing those difference out (and they are very REAL reasons)!

      • Weis tried as hard as he could, but he had neither the necessary understanding of all of the things that needed to be done, nor the leadership ability to get them accomplished. He gets far more credit from me than his predecessors. He didn’t have the demonstrated ability, and as you note, nor the support. Kelly’s demonstrated about 80% of what’s needed and he has a good working partner in Swarbrick. All of the above doesn’t happen without AD support. Weis had no concept of how to run a program based on accountability, his motivation was painful to see and his merrygoround staff was a mess of instability. As noted in on the job learning, he wasn’t ready to lead this program. In my mind, the things listed above are critical and it’s heartening to see ND make real strides programmatically. That said, I’ve maintained and unfortunately still believe Kelly will learn yet another tough lesson about his offensive philosophy. Hope I’m wrong. Maybe he learned it last year, but I sense he’ll get on a run and default back to back to an air assault offense. Had he been more balanced last year, I think we’d of had two more wins. I still believe he force fed the offense.

      • Jim Kress says:

        Weis was a football Professor. An academic who, as are most NFL “coaches”, was accustomed to receiving virtually finished products as players from Universities and Colleges. He had little to no concept of what coaching, motivating and developing young, “heads full of mush” high school PROSPECTS into “finished products” entailed or required.

        Kelly is a football Coach. Kelly appears to have the “academic” knowledge of football as well as the practical, pragmatic skills to take young, “heads full of mush” high school PROSPECTS and convert them into “finished products” – i.e. skilled, trained, and properly conditioned football players.

        Only time will tell how well Kelly performs and ND performs with him as coach. But, as the article indicates, Kelly has a far better and deeper understanding of College Football and what it takes to be a successful Coach than Weis ever did.

    17. Patrick Mikes '79 says:

      Nice article.
      Might there have been some gaping holes in recruiting running backs?
      Everyone is concerned about the lack of depth behind Wood and Gray.

    18. Irish Mike says:

      Please, Please, Please……Let’s get behind BK and support his efforts.
      From what I have read and seen the program is headed in the right direction.
      It will take some time but, I am willing to wait. I have suffered since the LOU ERA.
      GO IRISH!!!!!

    19. All the changes Coach Kelly has and is making are great and should be commended. Maybe they will indeed change the culture of mediocrity that has plagued ND since Lou left in 1996. In my opinion, however, culture changes alone won’t take the Irish back to a BCS bowl or, hopefully, a national championship game. You need players, and until ND goes back to the days of taking academic chances on guys like Tony Rice, Chris Zorich, George Williams, etc., we can continue to plan on going to the Sun Bowl, or the Gator Bowl, or the Car Car Bowl and maybe, once or twice in a decade, a BCS game. In spite of the terrific job Kelly and his staff did in recruiting this year, there are still numerous players they couldn’t go after because of their marginal academic record. We would have never won the 1988 national title without those players mentioned above and others like them.

    20. mpsND'72 says:

      El Kabong: I just read all of your comments. How damn refreshing! You are absolutely RIGHT! Nothing matters but wins. We had a supposed football “genius” in Charlie Weis. Didn’t matter. So, now we have a head coach who “knows” how to run a college football program. Great! One barely saved season is behind us. More questions to be answered are ahead of us. Everyone will continue to slice and dice what’s it all about, Alfie? (Couldn’t resist.) Well, to your point: nothing but WINNING!

      • Every time I see “nothing matters, but wins” I think, “no shit.”

        Nothing matters but winning is hardly an elucidating idea. Everyone knows that positives now will fade if wins don’t follow. It’s an insipid point.

        If the accompanying thought is “we should just wait for results before writing or reading anything,” then why are you reading anything about Notre Dame football now?

        I know the answer.

        The answer is because you’re interested in what’s going on in the program.

        Nothing matters but winning in the end, but almost everyone is interested in following and understanding the journey. I wrote the article and I don’t think anything matters in the end but winning, but I’m very interested in how this evolves and noting what I think are positives and negatives. That’s the reason five ND sites are busy now. Following the journey and noting the negatives and positives (which everyone does, btw) isn’t at odds with the thought that nothing matters in the end but winning. They’re not mutually exclusive.

        This article is not about judgment (which will be based on wins,) it’s about changes in the program that clearly many find informative.

    21. DCIrish says:

      El Kabong and friends: You’re correct, nothing matters but wins. However, since a quick check of the calendar shows that no wins will be forthcoming until 3 September 2011, it makes one wonder why you are bothering to read a post in April. If you don’t care, that’s certainly your privilege; but if others are interested in such matters as SEE presents for discussion in the spring, why must you bother them? No one’s forcing you to read these blogs, are they? Just go on about planting your tulips or whatever, enjoy your summer, and we’ll see you in September.

    22. Reading between the lines here, it becomes more and more obvious with each passing week that Kelly is a consummate professional, on and off the field, where Weis was nothing more than a blowhard who thought his 3 SB rings would get the job done. (As if we needed more evidence about that approach)
      I was always amazed at how many games ND lost to inferior opponents in the 4th quarter. Syracuse, Navy and Connecticut come immediately to mind. Conclusion: Poorly conditioned, poorly coached and disorganized. That’s the Weis legacy.
      Love Kelly.