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Kelly Green (and GOLDEN?) 12/11/2009

Posted by sportretort in Sports, Uncategorized.
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Notre Dame got its man. 

The Irish introduced their new football head coach today.  Brian Kelly is leaving Cincinnati to come to Notre Dame.  Kelly, an Irish Catholic, is leaving a team that he 

Brian Kelly is introduced as the new ND football head coach

 built into the 5th ranked team in the nation.  The Bearcats were 12-0 this season and earned a BCS berth with a Sugar Bowl bid.  His 3 year record at Cincinnati was 34-6.  Notre Dame finished 6-6 under Charlie Weis this season. 

When Weis was hired 5 years ago, he was the 3 time Super Bowl champion offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots.  He came to Notre Dame with no head coaching experience.  Kelly arrives in South Bend with a career 171-57-2 record as a head coach, including stops at Grand Valley State, Central Michigan and Cincinnati.  That experience as a head coach should give him an advantage over his predecessor.  Kelly is a high energy coach who appears to be able to recruit.  He seems to be a good fit for Notre Dame.  He is an offensive coach, and Nore Dame had a good offense this season.  Quarterback Jimmy Clausen and wide receiver Golden Tate have declared that they will be moving on to the NFL, but there is talent here and Kelly had no problem getting offensive talent to Cincinnati and should be able to get talent to South Bend.  The first thing he needs to do, however, is to find a quality defensive coordinator.  I do not know what assistant coaches he plans to bring from his Bearcat staff, but the defense that gave up 45 points to UCONN, 36 to Illinois and 44 to Pitt in their last 4 games will not get it done in South Bend.  As Weis found out, the Irish need a stout defense.  The Irish ranked 64th in the NCAA’s FBS subdivision, surrendering almost 26 points a game.  Cincinnati was 24th in the nation, allowing just under 21 points per game.  Kelly will need to find a way to surrender fewer points than either of those squads gave up this season. 

There is also pressure on Kelly to produce for another reason.  While Notre Dame has a contract with NBC to televise all their 

Will the peacock continue to be the home of the Golden Dome after 2015?

home games through 2015, the TV situation and the ratings Notre Dame receives may make another extension difficult.  The Irish will receive a reported $15 million a year for the TV rights.  That money, and the windfall of $4 million plus for a BCS Bowl appearance is what has allowed ND to remain independent.  While the school has joined the Big East for basketball, etc., the football team is a member of no conference.  The trouble is that there has not been a BCS bowl for Notre Dame since the 2006 season, and only 3 total appearances since the BCS began in 1998.  Couple that with sagging ratings for ND games on NBC, and the combination  may make another re-up with NBC difficult.  The Irish drew an average of 3.7 million viewers per game this season.  While that was up from 3.2 million last season, it is down from the 5.2 million viewers the Irish commanded just 5 years ago.  The viewership out drew cable giant ESPN’s  (2.87 million) per game coverage average this season but was far less than games televised by broadcast networks ABC (6.1 million) and CBS (7 million).  

Notre Dame considers their independent status to be helpful because it allows for national recruiting.  Some think that joining a conference will limit Notre Dame’s ability to recruit outside of that conferences ‘footprint.’  But that is bunk.  There are players from California and Texas and New Jersey, for example, playing in the Big Ten.  Notre Dame will still be able to compete for recruits across the nation.  If Kelly does not turn the Irish around quickly, their TV revenue may dry up after 2015.  While it is true that ND would have to split bowl money with conference members, they will also receive a split from other league teams that attend bowls.  If the Irish were in the Big Ten this season, for example, they would be receiving splits from 7 bowl games, including 2 BCS games,  instead of no bowl income because the Irish are not going to a bowl this season.  The financial landscape of college football will soon force Notre Dame to join a conference.  Only a quick turnaround by Kelly, and multiple BCS appearances will stop this from happening.  Even that may not be enough.  

Kelly will be the next Notre Dame football coach.  He will probably also be the coach that ushers in the end of independence for Irish football.

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