So there's a new head coach in South Bend. Weis wasn't the guy to bring them back to glory, and he was deservedly relieved of his position as head coach. In comes Brian Kelly. A man who hasn't quite coached in the same spotlight as some of the other coaches that were on the short list of possible replacements, but that doesn't mean that he won't work at Notre Dame.
I stuck by Weis longer than most, but this season really got me on the other side of the fence. A few of their losses were the direct result of poor play calling, particularly in the red-zone. When the offensive line is all 6'6"+, 300lbs+, and Jimmy Clausen is throwing the ball to Golden Tate, Michael Floyd, and Kyle Rudolph, there is simply no reason that the offense should sputter out so many times in the red-zone. Also at times I got the feeling this season that Weis felt like he was bigger than Notre Dame, and that is a quality that a coach in South Bend simply cannot afford to have. Sure, no one will argue that Notre Dame needed Charlie Weis. He is responsible for some solid recruits coming to Notre Dame...but at the same time Weis needed Notre Dame as well. Neither is/was bigger than the other. This is an area where I feel Kelly will excel. He has always taken smaller schools and turned them into winners (Grand Valley State, Central Michigan, and his latest masterpiece at Cincinnati). Now he has a school where he can go out and get an even better athletic prospect, in an area that he already knows the recruiting trail quite well. This small-school mentality will allow him to fully embrace what it means to coach at Notre Dame...the tradition, the fans, the students, and the ambiance. This is something that a coach at Notre Dame has not done since Dr. Lou, and we all know how he did at ND...
Another area where I think Weis struggled was motivation. That's what a coach does...motivates his players to give 110%, stay hungry, and play every down of every game like it's for the national title. It's no small task convincing the best WR/QB/RB in the country why he needs to work hard and get better, rather than simply relying on God-given ability to play better than the other guy. If Brian Kelly can motivate the caliber of athletes that come to Notre Dame, it could finally propel them back into the national scene.
So while Kelly's lack in experience coaching agains the major college football powerhouses worries me, I am very excited about what he brings to the table in terms of coaching ability, recruiting, and motivation. It's time for Notre Dame to get back on top, instead of being known as the over-hyped media-queen that they have been for the past decade.