The Notre Dame regular season has wrapped up and it is time to get healthy and look towards the playoff. Even optimistic fans have to admit, back in July it was tough to imagine that Notre Dame would go undefeated when looking at that gauntlet of a schedule. While the schedule didn’t end up being as tough as first imagined, undefeated is impressive in its own right. With a Notre Dame team that preformed as well as they did, Brian Kelly has to be on the short list for AP Coach of the Year.
This would be Brian Kelly’s second coach of the year with the other one coming in 2012. Even with a playoff loss, that is an impressive resume builder for a coach that did something that hasn’t been done in a very long time. Brian Kelly just wrapped up his second undefeated regular season. That is something even greats like Lou Holtz and Ara Parseghian can’t claim.
It should be worth noting that the COY award doesn’t go to the best coach but the one who took his team and vastly exceeded expectations. Otherwise Saban or Dabo Swinney would win the award yearly but we just can’t have that.
I also haven’t been totally sold on Kelly hitting that upper echelon of coaches quite yet. He has made some great strides and this is a great article from shakedownthethunder that talks about the changes made in the Notre Dame program. Overall my opinion could easy be changed in the playoff. It doesn’t have to be a win but I need to see a competitive game out of the Fighting Irish. Show that this team won’t fold in a big spot against a quality opponent.
There has been a history of losing the big game against a quality opponent and Notre Dame hasn’t had a major bowl win in quite some time. I have long been a believer in BK and supported him even through the 4-8 season. He is a solid coach, brings in talented recruiting classes and keeps Notre Dame competitive year to year. Few teams can go into a season with optimism every single year. But he also has his faults and one of them is winning the big game. Whether it is the National Championship or big bowl games against Ohio State or even winning in Stanford, it has been an issue.
Brian Kelly just needs to show up and put up a real fight against a playoff team and I’ll be sold. He went on the road and won, battled back for a tough win in California and took this team to an undefeated season. But he needs to prove he can finish the job and stop the narrative that Notre Dame doesn’t belong.
With the playoff ahead of them, Kelly deserves some major credit and he has put himself firmly in the running for COY. This would be his second time winning the award, tying him with Nick Saban for the most wins. Kelly has proven that he has made some changes and is a major reason for the Notre Dame success that has put the country on notice.
Does Kelly deserve coach of the year? Let us know what you think below.
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Started Saturday Tailgate in 2018. Covering all things college football and talking Notre Dame on Twitter.