Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Initial Impressions

After surviving another round of finals and thankfully wrapping up my Christmas shopping, I finally found some time to spit out a few thoughts on the new Notre Dame coach.

What difference a (head) coach makes: While not many leads for Kelly's first staff have surfaced, fans will notice that Kelly is much more detailed and methodical than perhaps Weis was when assembling his first staff. Rather than reaching for the big names, Kelly is more focused on finding coaches that are on-board with his coaching philosophy. Having many years of experience as a head coach, the assembly of Kelly's staff will be fairly different from that of the Weis era. Expect him to bring in a lot of familiar faces from his previous experiences as well as a few carefully selected people to help him adjust specifically to the Notre Dame culture.

Living in the lime light: There has been fairly unanimous agreement that Kelly has handled himself well with the media up to this point. Keith Arnold from NBC Sports recently pointed out how BK's decision to hold 2 separate media sessions illustrates his understanding of the media and what it can influence. Unfortunately, Charlie's Nasties was not invited to the internet reporters presser. For now I'll blame it on the blog name, but if I keep getting rejected from these private parties, I could turn this site into slander city.... so watch yourself coach.

I'm really glad that Kelly has been able to hit it off so well with the media because, frankly, it is demanded. At a school like Notre Dame, winning records are expected to be accompanied by a good public image. I'm not sure if an iron-fisted lock-jawed coach like Belichick or Parcells could makes things work here. Don't get me wrong, any particular style of coaching could work here, but unless a coach is able to communicate positively with the media, alumni, and fans, it would probably not lead to a lasting marriage.

Tough Gentlemen: In his opening press conference, Kelly told his players to take some time off over the holidays. I would advise them to take advantage of this break because from what I've heard, they are going to have a fun spring in Kelly's conditioning program. BK has put a very strong emphasis on his ability to develop players, and while a certain component of that is coaching, an equally important factor lies in the strength and conditioning programs.

I have confidence that this no-nonsense approach to conditioning should have a positive impact on the team. Everyone always references USC's full contact practices as an ingredient to their success, and I think Kelly will be moving closer to that model than Weis did.

RKGs: Kelly made an interesting comment that (paraphrasing) schools like Notre Dame can sometimes get caught up too much in the public opinion of recruits. The idea is that there is so much football talent nation wide, that a good number of players inevitably slip through the cracks of recruiting sites or that some players are positioned to play better in college than their high school resume indicates. Coach Kelly's performance on the recruiting front will be well documented (and likely criticized) over the following weeks, and I'm very curious about how this comment will work its way into ND's recruiting plan.

To draw on an almost completely irrelevant analogy, some of my best players in EA Sports NCAA Football have been 2 star players that, while being terrible at almost everything else, happened to be 6'6" and run a 4.4 forty. I know its a stretch, but you get the picture. Look for Kelly to reach on a couple recruits in order to get some qualities guys and hard workers into the locker room as well as to push his players in practice.

That's it for now. Eventually I might put up a poll for a new blog name or something like that, so start brainstorming now. Go Irish!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Our" Kelly has a nice ring to it, but could send mothers and children running for the exits!
Good Luck!!