The Next Man In

Notre Dame found their coach in Brian Kelly and while the ghosts are stirring with talk of what Kelly will bring to the Fighting Irish, fans will soon learn Brian Kelly is more than just the "Next Coach In" at Notre Dame.

For Notre Dame, the pressure was on to hit a homerun in their hiring of the coach who would replace not only Charlie Weis, but also the failures of Tyrone Willingham and Bob Davie. Notre Dame Football has taken a hit and it needed to find a coach capable of placing the program back at the top of the college football world.

While Weis and Davie left with records over .500, they never came close to really fulfilling their promise to win championships. Brian Kelly and his "Next Man In" philosophy will change the past and restore glory not seen in South Bend since Lou Holtz won the Irish's last National Championship in 1988.

The moment Brian Kelly is introduced as Notre Dame's head coach, things will change and change in a way never seen in Notre Dame History. Brian Kelly will assume ownership and responsibility of one of America's top businesses. Notre Dame Football.

But Brian Kelly is more than an X and O genius and a football coach. Kelly is now CEO of America's most historic football program, and like other top CEOs Rupert Murdoch and Warren Buffett, he knows the shareholders of Notre Dame Football will accept nothing less than championships on his watch.

What makes Kelly the man capable of getting the job done at Notre Dame while others have failed? It's simple; he just knows how to win.

No matter where Brian Kelly hanged his coaching visor you could count on one thing: Brian Kelly would win football games and championships. Starting at Grand Valley State (13 years) then on to Central Michigan (3 years) and Cincinnati (3 years) Kelly has won, having only one season below .500. Not only has Kelly won games but he's won multiple National Championships, Conference Championships and Bowl games.

One of the top motivators in college football, Brian Kelly uses a very simple approach to his coaching success. Have every person from the staff in the office, coaches on the field and players ready to step up and finish the job at hand at a championship level.

Innovative and organized, Kelly looks at every detail, breaks it down and makes sure those who are responsible can get the job done. If not, he'll move on to the next person until someone shows their capable of getting the job done. Kelly calls it "Next Man In" and at Cincinnati he's proven this philosophy can work and work at a high level.

On offense, Brian Kelly stresses up-tempo, no-huddle spread formations from the shotgun. Opposing teams will always be on the tips of their toes while fans will be cheering for more. Offensive production at Notre Dame will see record numbers under Kelly as passing marks will always be a target. But don't get settled into your seat because Kelly's offense only needs two minutes or less to find the end zone.

This past season Kelly's 12-0 Cincinnati team passed for 3,844 yards and 36 touchdowns with both starting quarterbacks hitting on over 62% of their passes and excelling in the Red-Zone.

But Kelly doesn't just throw the football around; he also knows how to use the running game when it serves him best. In twelve games this season Cincinnati rushed for 1,727 overall net yards for an average carry of 5.1 yards to go with 23 rushing touchdowns.

As many have reported, Kelly has seen multiple quarterbacks make starts since coming to Cincinnati. After three seasons Kelly has used eight quarterbacks with six of those earning starts. In each case Kelly has won games with all six despite each being different in their abilities. Kelly's offense is not set in stone and will change depending upon who is taking snaps. But one thing will never change and that's the ability to put points and yards on the scoreboard in a hurry.

While no one questions Kelly's offensive abilities, Irish fans are sure to raise some concern about his defense. Despite what many saw in the final weeks of the season, Brian Kelly knows defense is an important part of championship football using a philosophy that a defense must be ready to play 60 minutes.

While Kelly ran a 4-3 defensive scheme in the past his 2009 team changed to the 3-4 as he felt a change would be needed with so many young and first time starters taking the field after losing 10 starters from the previous year's team with four of them being drafted in the NFL Draft last spring.


(AP Photo/Tom Uhlman)
Much like his offense Brian Kelly likes to place pressure on opposing defenses using an attacking style that served Cincinnati well until they tired towards the latter parts of the season. Experience and depth will allow for Kelly to have a much stronger defense at Notre Dame, as Brian knows he places his defense in pressure situations when his offense is running in high gear.

Just like he's done with his quarterbacks, Brian Kelly's "Next Man In" approach is used on both sides of the field.

In the spring of 2009, Kelly moved former Freshman All-Big East wide receiver Marcus Barnett to defensive back. While Barnett worked hard on learning the position, Kelly moved him back to receiver at the start of the season until an injury prior to the Fresno State game made Barnett the best option available. Never one to panic, Kelly called upon Barnett to play corner and watched Barnett record two tackles with a pass breakup while also giving solid coverage throughout the game.

But championships are not won with offense and defense alone and Kelly knows special teams are extremely important in every game. Fine details are covered during spring, preseason camp and during the season so the team is never lost when something happens that isn't expected.

For those who'll have a chance to watch a future practice, they will find Kelly's staff will break things down to the finest detail and each player will have an understanding of what is expected of them. Intense Tuesdays makes sure the team is off on the right start on game week.

To work for Brian Kelly, a coach has to have full understanding he'll be held accountable. If one of their players messes up, Kelly will come down hard making sure they do their job and coach the player to do what is needed. Players and coaches are held accountable and repeated failure is not accepted. Kelly is tough on both coaches and players but doesn't take it over the edge.

But while many who've seen Kelly on television get the sense he's a mad man out of control Kelly knows how to get his point across without going over the line. His players will always play hard and tough, and be physically and mentally in control at all times to reach their maximum ability.

While it's still up in the air as to how many members of Brian's current staff will be following him to South Bend, one thing is certain. Paul Longo will be in control of the Irish strength and conditioning program.

Longo and Kelly have been together since 2004 and the results have been clearly visible at Central Michigan and Cincinnati as Longo's handy work has helped Kelly put lower level recruits in position to excel on the field.

A long time strength coach under Hayden Fry at Iowa, Longo-conditioned teams are one of the best in the country in closing out games. Prior to this season, Paul Longo has produced fourteen NFL Draft picks since joining forces with Kelly. NFL scouts have learned to trust Longo when it comes to what a player can do and this has helped many go from possible free agents to draft picks.

One thing that is sure to follow Longo to South Bend is his sand pit. Irish players will soon have their own little beach to do drills tailored to enable them to maintain strength during the season and to increase strength during the off season.

Paul Longo and Brian Kelly work hand-in-hand when it comes to finding the players most capable of helping the program win at the highest level. During recruiting camps both coaches will exchange notes and discuss the players on hand they feel are capable of entering the program and excelling physically. Just because a player may have a high ranking doesn't mean he'll pass the eye test of either. Paul Longo has studied the human body and knows how he can shape and mold it for football success.

One of the biggest questions raised when Brian Kelly's name came up as a possible candidate for Notre Dame was his ability to recruit.

While many feel Kelly has never been in a position to recruit on a national basis they fail to understand what makes Brian Kelly is more than just another coach. Many college coaches use an "ah-shucks" approach with recruits, Kelly uses his tremendous communication skills, high energy and knowledge of the game to leave prospects feeling they are the piece of the puzzle missing for the team to win the next championship.

His coaches will use their coaching ability to show players how they'll excel in the system and become complete players capable of playing championship football and advance their games to the next level.

From New York, Florida, Ohio, Texas and California, Brian Kelly will close the deal leaving players to not only dream of restoring Notre Dame to its past glory, but actually doing it.

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