Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The first few days | by Pat

Whenever there is a new football coach, it's pretty easy to get caught up in the excitement and promising possibilities given the clean slate of a new coaching staff and feel-good quotes from the press conference. However, in the particular case of Notre Dame football and our recent history of hires, it should be just as easy, and perhaps even a bit wise, to stay jaded and treat everything from now until kickoff in the fall as mostly irrelevant.

Personally I fall somewhere in between. I look forward to what Kelly will bring to the program and like what I see so far, yet want to avoid some of the excessive optimism I indulged in when Charlie took over for Ty. Part of that is perhaps a bit of a hangover due to the fact I thought ND was close to landing Bob Stoops (just being honest here), but mostly it's because of the names Davie, O'Leary, Willingham, and Weis. Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me four times in a row, don't expect me to buy your book after your first year.

Along those lines, I think some part of Kelly -- or the media consultant he mentioned in his intro presser -- realizes that portions of the ND fanbase are similarly hesitant to "Dive Right In" (if I may reuse one of Charlie's lines). Maybe it's the son of a politician in him, but Kelly seems to be working hard already not only communicating with recruits, but also with the University and fanbase alike in an attempt to spread his ideas for the program and get everyone to buy in.

On Twitter alone, "CoachBrianKelly" is responding to individual fan requests and, as far as I know, is now the only coach in the country following the twitter feed of EDSBS. He's also following the BGS feed, which is a bit odd since we basically never use it. In the non-virtual world, he is hitting the sports talk radio circuit and showing up at the Main Building Christmas party to shake hands and take photos with University administrators, not all of whom are big fans of a larger than life football program.

Again, gestures like this tend to only convince those willing to be convinced and segments of ND fans will continue to wait until kickoff this September (or maybe November ). And it's easy to show up and work a crowd when you are undefeated. Still, until we start getting more tangible results like the complete make-up of his coaching staff, Signing Day outcome, etc... the "irrelevant" first impressions seem to be that Kelly has a definite plan to handle the coaching transition and it involves being very public and available. Let's see how or if that changes any perceptions over the next few weeks.