Friday, December 11, 2009

A Mindful Rant; Brian Kelly To Notre Dame- And It Ain't Right

I'll get this part done with before the reader moves on- I'm no Notre Dame fan. I don't like the special handling they get from the public, the media, and the college football establishment. In my eyes, in the 21st century they're similar to Old World aristocracy living off of the glory of those who came before them, won in battles- in some cases- generations ago.

The bottom line is excepting their history they are no better nor worse than most of the college football programs in America. And that includes the way they hired their new head football coach, Brian Kelly, who until less than 24 hours ago, was the head man at the University of Cincinnati.

It was the worst kept secret this side of Sarah Palin's political aspirations for 2012- Charlie Weis needed to win at least nine or ten games at Notre Dame this year and get to a desirable (read BCS) bowl game or he was out at Notre Dame. And the man most in the free world thought would be his targeted replacement was Brian Kelly. Kelly won Big East Coach of the Year in each of his three seasons at UC, compiling a 34-6 record and back to back Big East championships. This year the Cincinnati Bearcats are 12-0, ranked #4 in the AP and #2 in the BCS- and think about this; as Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic brought up in their ESPN show this morning- if at the end of the Big Twelve Championship Game the one second was not restored to give Texas a chance to kick a game winning field goal against Nebraska, then Cincinnati would be playing Alabama for a National Championship- and Brian Kelly may not be Notre Dame's coach as we speak.

But instead, UC will meet the Florida Gators in the Sugar Bowl with offensive co-ordinator Jeff Quinn coaching Kelly's former team.

Even as late as last night, when Kelly won the HOME DEPOT NATIONAL COACH OF THE YEAR award, Kelly remained mum on the situation. See his interview below with ESPN's Chris Fowler.

Kelly's departure prior to the biggest game in UC's history is the way college football coaching hirers are done. Its the nature of the business, and it is the business they have chosen. Its the way Rich Rodriguez left West Virginia for the Michigan job two years ago, weeks before WVU's BCS bowl game. Other coaches have done it that way- you do it in order to keep recruiting in tact and hit the floor running. Its The System.

And The System stinks. And it needs to be overhauled.

Loyalty....honor...."we are family". Keep preaching it. But its all so very hollow. Brian Kelly insisted to his players at Cincinnati that its all rumors, and indicated to them he would be at UC for the immediate future, even while he was meeting with Notre Dame officials about taking over that program.

Kelly waited until the conclusion of the Cincinnati awards banquet to tell his players he was leaving. Understandably, his players at UC were hurt and upset.

Wide receiver Mardy Gilyard......
"He went for the money.I'm fairly disgusted with the situation, that they let it last this long."

Tight end Ben Guidugli.....
"We already knew what he was going to say. We weren't giving him a round of applause or anything. It's like somebody turned their back on us. We brought this whole thing this far. We've come this far. To have someone walk out now is disappointing."

Quarterback Tony Pike....
"The Tuesday when we were practicing for Pittsburgh, he said he loves it here and he loves this team and loves coaching here and his family loves it here.

Yeah, three cheers for the Fighting Irish. But what about the Cincinnati players who fought so hard to take a program that nobody cared about and give it national attention? What about the fans who filled tiny Nippert Stadium and made the emotional investment with the team in this dream season, and who bought out their allotment of Sugar Bowl tickets? What about the dreams those fans had about the possibility of doing at Cincinnati what had been done at Miami, Florida State, and Virginia Tech, all at one time under the radar programs who with the right coach and circumstances became special?

The UC players and fans have a right to be angry....I'm not one of them, but I can sense the feelings of betrayal they must have.

Honesty and integrity are demanded by all football coaches on the college level- except when it has to be reciprocated back to the players in situations like this. And as stated before, its not just Brian Kelly who was less than forthcoming with his players. Its the way business is conducted in the NCAA involving the student athletes and the men who are charged with them. If anything, the young players at the University of Cincinnati have learned a very harsh life lesson- its not very fair. And the bottom line is, the only people you should be depending on for any kind of long term loyalty should be your immediate family....or barring that, buy a dog.

There should be a rule change in NCAA hirings- a coach may not be contacted unless the team he is currently coaching has completed its season. It may not be a perfect solution, but at least it would be a way to coerce college coaches practice the honesty and integrity they demand of their players, but sometimes do not practice themselves.

(In writing this entry I used and The Star-Ledger as my primary sources).

Postscript- @ 3:30PM Friday December 11- I just listened to portions of Brian Kelly's introduction as Notre Dame's new head coach on the radio. Now I can approximate what Arthur of the Britons probably said when he pulled Excalibur from the stone.

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