It’s become standard operating procedure today for many in the mainstream and social media, that when a public figure makes a misstep or puts them self too far ahead of interested others, that judgment is passed quickly and with teeth.
So when current Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly bid his then employer the University of Cincinnati an unexpected sayonara in December of 2009 before the conclusion of their football campaign (Sugar Bowl), one would’ve expected him and his dubious departure to’ve received the same testy treatment.
Why the kid gloves then for Brian Kelly and his new employer, Notre Dame? South Bend clout? Chicago clout? Boston clout? Catholic clout? The Pope’s a powerful pontiff. No lo sé.
When Kelly, who, on taking the job in northwest Indiana, was in his 3rd season with Bearcats (‘06 (1) – 09), a tenure that began when he left C. Michigan to take reins from Mark Dantonio (MSU) to coach UC in the International Bowl and compiled a 33-6 mark, undertook in-season negotiations with ND to fill the void created by Charlie Weis’ firing and left Cincinnati (#3) before their Sugar Bowl (UF), this observer expected negative reverberations for the opportunistic act. But outside of maybe southwest Ohio, nary a peep was heard from sporting types on what could be termed, at best, exploitive, at worst, unethical behavior on Brian’s part who apparently lets nothing so trifling as loyalty and spirit-of-contract stand in the way of what looks to be the perfect job (cha-ching!).
In fairness to the Everett, Massachusetts native (10.25.61), the slightly seamy game of coaching musical chairs has become as standard of a practice in college football as has that rush to judgment in the world of scribblers and gossips.
Nevertheless, Brian Kelly and his Notre Dame cohorts might now be getting their comeuppance for their crass contract play some seven years back. Maybe Mark Dantonio and his Michigan State handlers, too (MSU 3 -8 (2016)).
But not from the mainstream media and social gadflies. Uh uh. Most those folk are as captured and compliant as an FDA new drug approval committee. Eek.
Rather, Kelly may be getting his just deserts from the Sporting Gods, those spirits in charge of that immeasurable force of nature called karma. In his case, bad karma. Specifically, the karmic backlash.
As of last Saturday‘s contest, a 34-31 loss to Virginia Tech, his record with the Fighting Irish stands at a modest 59-30 (.662), 3-3 in bowl action. Brian did as early as his third season get the green & gold to a BCS title game (12-1), then got steam-rolled by the Crimson Tide, 42-14 (28-0 half). Since then it’s been fair-to-middling.
“Was you ever bit by a dead bee?”
Last January Notre Dame and Kelly inked a 6-yr extension. While other terms such as salary were not made available, the coach’s haul is estimated to be $4M per (coacheshotseat.com).
AD Jack Swarbrick (2008), Trustee Chair John Brennan and Board members chose to re-invest in Kelly in a signing just weeks after the team took another shellacking, this time in the Fiesta Bowl from the team coached by the other half of the two-coach dominated FBS system, the Ohio State Buckeyes and Urban Meyer, 44-28 (See Also: Saban (Krzyzewski & Calipari)).
Their basis: Swarbrick cited the word “foundation” and it having been laid with knowing care by Brian Kelly in key facets of a strong college football enterprise.
Also factoring into their decision may’ve been the fact that his coach’s win-% (.705 (55-23 thru 2015)) ranks better than Weis, Willingham, Davies and Faust, all four who came in just above or below the .550 mark. Terrific.
But “foundation” and ‘better than Charlie, Ty, Bob & Gerry’ ain’t gonna’ cut it when it’s Notre Dame football, where Rockne, Layden, Leahy, Parseghian, Devine & Holtz forged a standard that became bigger than life, a regal reputation admired by sport fans from coast to coast.
Like Dallas in the NFL, the Fighting Irish are still top dog nationally. When they do well, the world seems right with money-makers and fans alike. But with Nick and Urban building legendary programs in their respective schools, that top spot gets more tenuous with every season sans national title #16, the last coming as far back as 1988 (Holtz), the longest drought since Knute arrived (1918).
With the Irish falling at home to Virginia Tech their 2016 record sinks to 4-7.
The Irish had five players go pro post-2015, but all the top factories lose most of their rated workforce to the NFL draft come declaration day. Michigan, Ohio State, Alabama, Washington, PSU, they all cope with the talent drain.
Brian Kelly represents that growing element in college sport where personal opportunity becomes the “foundation” of that individual’s coaching career, ergo the Cincinnati play. Coaching legend Larry Brown is their poster-boy. And it’s a mind-set that always has an eye open for NFL possibilities (BK- Eagles 2012).
Notre Dame Trustees would be wise to adopt a similar approach. Re-read its football coach and athletic director contracts, in good faith, but in a light most favorable to its University and in perpetuating its champions legacy. Then, when they find their new candidates, make them reasonably generous offers but only AFTER the college football season ends. Oy vey.
Photo credit: B.Kelly, wc.cca, 9.17.12, Andyohsbass09; Kelly, wc, J.Meier, 7.25.12; NotreDame-logo, wc, NDU; NotreDameStadium, wc, BPL, TichnorBros, 1930-45; macroecono, lamcasinoroyal, wc, 2011
Posted: 11.22.16 @ 5:02pm EST; Copyright © 2016
Filed under: NCAA Football
Tagged with: aheadofthecurve, Ara Parseghian, bad karma, Brian Kelly, Central Michigan University, cinema, coach, Dallas Cowboys, Dan Devine, Elmer Layden, Ernest Hemingway, FDA new drug approval, Fighting Irish, Frank Leahy, Jack Swarbrick, John Brennan, just deserts, karmic backlash, Knute Rockne, Larry Brown, literature, Lou Holtz, MacroSport, Mark Dantonio, movies, NCAA FBS D1 college football 2016-17, NFL, Nick Saban, sayonara, South Bend, Sporting Gods, sports, To Have and Have Not, University of Cincinnati, University of Notre Dame, Urban Meyer, Was you ever bit by a dead bee?