Kelly: Part IV

Our final installment includes Kelly's philosophy on the value of playing true freshmen; the role of future coordinators; the unique challenges of Notre Dame; and the Irish media.

This is the final installment of our Tuesday interview with Brian Kelly. For links to the first three parts, begin here.

Redshirts vs. "5th-Year applicants"

The difference between automatic redshirts (five years of enrollment in school with four years of football eligibility for a player) and what Notre Dame considers "5th-Year applicants" (a player applies for a 5th-year after his senior season and must qualify for a graduate program at Notre Dame) was also discussed. Kelly touched on the advantages of playing true freshmen vs. the decision to withhold others from action early in their careers.

"I think (in terms of positions) it does make a difference," he began. "Mentally and physically, there are a couple of positions, in particularly the offensive line, that would in my experience mean they're probably not ready to play as true freshmen.

"But I'd rather play true freshmen. I've always had better success with a young man that plays, relative to time management, than if he redshirts. It's just worked for me philosophically. So as we move to that fourth or fifth year (at Notre Dame), as long as we've developed a good plan of action in that fifth year, I think we'll have great support across the board from (the University) for those fifth-year (players).

"But if you're mucking it around and you're taking classes just to take classes…I'm not crazy about that and it really doesn't serve the student-athlete. If we believe in specific (requirements of a student-athlete), we'll make sure that fifth year is one that really benefits the student-athlete and there has not historically been any problem with that if you're organized going into the fifth-year."

On the responsibilities of his future coordinators

"When it comes to my coordinators, I really give them a lot of leeway," Kelly explained. "I set the practices, so once the practices have been set - I need to have the pulse of the team every day to determine the length of depth of each practice. And then I let our coordinators go to work from there.

"It's very much on them, after I've laid out the template for the day, to be prepared for that practice, and they better be prepared for anything that might occur that day. He has to be able to run on his own gas; to take the room over; to stand in front of the entire team if I'm not there.

"So he has to have great leadership skills; be a great communicator; he has to be able to take the message that I give to our football team and make sure that it's repeating."

Kelly was then asked about the possible scenario of a new, less familiar offensive coordinator.

"I'd be much more involved (in that case). When I was at Central Michigan I did all of the daily signaling in practice and scripted everything…as well as acted as a head football coach. So there (are) enough hours in the day to do that if I have to do it.

"And that's why I won't compromise on the staff. I'll put the right staff together and am very, very confident we've secured both coordinators that I'm very familiar with."

Regarding communication throughout his staff: "I've always felt that staff development is crucial because it's the trickle-down effect. If your staff is not united or doesn't give a clear and consistent message that echoes what you (the head coach) say, that's where a lot of issues arise."

On what Kelly expects of the daily Irish media

There were (at minimum) an aggregate 11 internet, newspaper, and news outlets that covered and had access to the Irish football team on a daily basis in 2009. The number obviously represents a huge change for Kelly (who, subscribers should know, mentioned only from his three-years with the Bearcats).

What does the new head coach of the nation's most popular team expect of the media horde?

"I don't know what the ground rules were, so we'll have to establish those.

"My expectations would be that you want to provide content that would allow your subscribers to continue to subscribe," Kelly offered half-jokingly.

"Let's take the speculations and the really the ‘half-truth stuff.' Really I don't see how that fits in what you guys do, to be quite honest with you. If you have fact you report fact."

Editor's note: Amen to that.

"The job search, for example. There's information out there that is absolutely not true. How does the reader know (what's true and what's not)?"

On the unique challenge of coaching at Notre Dame

After commenting earlier on the need for deeper evaluation of prospective student-athletes – a system that looks beyond the SAT/ACT scores of each recruit – Kelly expanded on the supposed "restrictions" placed upon all Notre Dame coaches. Policies he believes make the University a special place:

"This is a faith-based education. We're going to continue to espouse those same values here. We're still going to be in The Basilica in pre-game…we're still going to have all of those traditions of what Notre Dame is about. They will be alive here and a big part (of a player's) experience.

"We're not building housing for football players," Kelly continued referring to practice at other schools across the country. "I think one of the great things about being a Notre Dame athlete is that you don't become marginalized by being with (solely) athletes.

"I know in my experience, my roommate was from San Diego. I'd never met anybody from California. And in my first trip (off-campus) I didn't go home, I went to San Diego. That was diversity for me. And I love that at Notre Dame. That's not going to change."

"The academic standards are what they are because of who we are. And it's not going to change. Community is still core to Notre Dame. Jack (Swarbrick) didn't have to have that conversation with me. Maybe he did with some others." Top Stories