When coach Brian Kelly arrived to recruit a potential player for Notre Dame, you could almost hear the fight song spinning through the young man’s head.
“Cheer, Cheer for old Notre Dame
Wake up the echoes, cheering her name
Every man knows how to fight
Each has a future shining bright’’
Then there was the legacy of the Four Horsemen and seven Heisman Trophy winners including Hornung, Lattner, Bertelli and Lujack. Touchdown Jesus looking down on the field at South Bend, a record 11 championships won under legendary coaches like Rockne, Leahy, Parseghian, the leprechaun mascot dancing around.
Sign me up!!
Coach Kelly collected his share of blue chip players because, after all, he was from Notre Dame, with its legend and lore, a school that has assembled a storied history in college football. Why you could almost see the emerald green Irish blood in his veins as he became the winningest coach in school history.
In 12 years at South Bend, Kelly’s teams went 113-40 including 11-1 this season, breaking the record of the legendary Knute Rockne. He had become something of an icon at Notre Dame.
And yet, there were blemishes.
There was a nasty scandal when it was discovered that a trainer was doing course work for some players in 2012, causing the NCAA to vacate that season’s wins. There were troubling losses in the Fiesta, Cotton and Rose Bowls and another in the national championship game. As a stubborn independent, Notre Dame watched the Southeastern Conference begin to dominate the college football landscape.
Coaches come and coaches go. Kelly had his own travelogue with stops at Grand Valley State where he won two Division II national championships, Central Michigan, Cincinnati and finally the high profile dream job at Notre Dame, the heart of so much college football history. He seemed entrenched.
And then, along came Louisiana State University, with a coaching vacancy which is what happens when the team goes 5-5 and 6-6 in the two years after winning the national championship.
Equipped with a 10-year, $95 million contract, LSU went shopping for a new coach and when it inquired about Kelly, why certainly he would be interested. At those numbers, why wouldn’t he?
So now the moving van is leaving Kelly’s South Bend, Ind. home and heading for a new place in Baton Rouge, La. Get rid of all that emerald green stuff. Purple and gold is very nice.
And by the way, LSU plays in the SEC.