"For us here at Notre Dame, we've worked hard to put ourselves in a position to be back in the national spotlight," Kelly said during his press conference Friday. "We have no intention of giving that up. Our focus since the last game last year is to get back to the top of the mountain. You don't get there easily."
"It's an exciting time for us, one we've been anticipating since the last game that we played last year, but our focus right now is on our first practice."
It wouldn't be accurate though to say that last season is totally in the past. It was a huge step in the right direction for a program focused on returning to the national forefront every year.
"Certainly, we've developed an environment, culture, workplace mentality," Kelly said."Our kids believe in what we do and how we do it. That never goes away. That has permeated this football program, the way we do things on a day-to-day basis, the expectations of how we play defense, offense, special teams, how we prepare."
However, Kelly noted that the 2013 Fighting Irish must forge a new identity from the 2012 team. There has to be a balance between building off of that success and not allowing the team to get too comfortable with where they are.
"The preparation has to be as diligent and keen as it was last year," he said. "You're maintaining the environment, you're maintaining what has been built in the program, with the recognition that we have more work to do. We're still building this thing. A lot of those pieces are still coming together."
"I want our players to stay in the present and really focus on what they need to do to be a better player in 2013."
Perhaps the most important part of moving into a new season for Notre Dame is forgetting about a disastrous start to 2013: the national championship loss, Kelly's interview with the Philadelphia Eagles, the Manti Te'o debacle, Everett Golson's abrupt suspension from school, and the Eddie Vanderdoes saga---just to name a few.
The head coach doesn't anticipate the off-the-field distractions to have any effect on the team come August 31.
"It was in the rearview mirror the next day," Kelly said about all the offseason issues. "We don't even think about it, don't even talk about it. It's history. As I mentioned, our guys were focused the very next day on winter workouts, early-morning conditioning, building into our spring and into our summer. It's not even something that's discussed."
A glimpse of exactly how the Irish will move on is not far away. Notre Dame will open training camp on Monday at Shiloh Park in Marion, Indiana as they prepare to take the field for the first time on August 31 against Temple.