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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Observer - Brian Kelly to build on community

Interesting article in the Observer today about Coach Brian Kelly's recent meeting with student leaders. He said a lot of good things, such as:

“The kind of guys that I am recruiting here now are going to be hardworking and they better recognize the value of the Notre Dame education,” he said. “Not all of them will be on the same elite level as the students in this room, but they are going to work their butts off.”
And
“The number one thing I talk to my players about is whether or not they care,” he said. “If you aren’t excited to play for the University of Notre Dame then you are not going to play here.”
And

“My players should understand that if they’re going to come to Notre Dame, it’s going to be about being at a unique place,” he said. “There is a uniqueness to us that doesn’t make us better or worse, but it makes us different. The right kinds of guys understand that.”

And

“We’re not going to be bringing in guys who want to hang out here while they wait for the NFL. Those days are over,” he said. “I want guys who want to play for Our Lady — I usually get what I want.”

All of which I agree with 100%. But part of the interview struck me as being a little bit at odds with the actions we have seen from the coach so far. See if you have the same reaction:

Kelly said he was expecting the football team to get rid of the attitude of “us” and “them” and become a part of the student body.


“My job is to reconnect some of the things that I believe haven’t been emphasized in the proper manner,” Kelly said to the students. “This is not a relationship of separation. It should be all of us together.”


Kelly said he saw a divide between student-athletes and the rest of the student body when he arrived on campus this past winter. He said he believes football is the best way to “get the bridge between students and athletes back.”


“I want the players to reengage with something that is really unique to Notre Dame,” he said. “Part of that is the community and the love students have for what happens on this campus.”

Okay, be honest with me, how many of you when you read that excerpt immediately think "training table" and "bookstore basketball"? Those are the two things that jumped into my head. Coach Kelly obviously has a lot of work to do to take this football program back to the level on which it belongs, and it is to be expected that he will change the way the football program operates in all areas. But I have to admit to being a little skeptical about his desire to tear down the wall between the students and the athletes when the first significant move he made upon becoming head football coach was to institute a training table in the Gug that takes the football players out of the dining halls, where they get to really be a part of the student body, and sequesters them into a private athletes-only facility where they get specially prepared meals served at special hours. I'm not saying that there isn't a very sound football reason for training table. I am saying that training table, especially the way it has been implemented, does not build a bridge between students and student-athletes.

Likewise, Coach Kelly's decision to prohibit football players from participating in the Bookstore Basketball tournament this year, while justifiable from a football perspective, serves to eliminate one of events that truly integrates the football team with the rest of the student body each spring.

It's not my intent to be critical. But I'm just sayin' ...

10 comments:

Voice in the Wilderness said...

Also, didn't Kelly previously indicate that walk-ons wouldn't be afforded any opportunities to contribute to the team?
He reminds me of 0bama. Says one thing, then does the polar opposite.

Dana Payne said...

Voice:

He probably voted for him...

Had a an ND student call me regarding ND magazine.

Echoed my sentiments regarding the Obama affair, as well as Fr Ted's call at the behest of Pelosi. That honestly disturbs me as much as anything.

Seemed like a nice kid too.

Dana Payne said...

One attribute about Charlie was that he "got" ND.


The AD might want to have a chat with the coach . We are not Cinci North.

Voice in the Wilderness said...

DP, don't forget, Kelly is such a leftoid that he campaigned in '84 for Gary Hart, who couldn't defeat Mr. Personality, Walter Mondale, for the dim nomination. Of course, my hero Ronald Reagan then went on to give Mondull a 49-to-1 state drubbing in the general election. Only a complete pussy would have worked against RR in 1984.

Dana Payne said...

Voice....

After the AD , Lou can chat with Kelly about politics.

Remember that the Donna Rice episode , is what did in Hartpence. This was after he challenged the Press on rumors of his womanizing, That's when the press had a modicum of curiosity about candidates.

Voice in the Wilderness said...

Lou should run for that niwit Allen Grayson's Congressional seat down in Orlando.

Hart's "Monkey Business" escapades were during the 1988 campaign. I wonder if Kelly campaigned for him in that race or went with his in-state guy, the dude who let Willie Horton out of prison, Gov. Michael Dukakis. He of the "no I wouldn't want to execute a man convicted of raping my wife" fame, as well as looking like the Flintstones' character Gazoo when he popped up from inside an M1A1 Abrams Tank with his pencil neck supporting that big ol' helmet. Hilarious.

Anonymous said...

You are correct it was 1988.

I know it was a different Willie Horton from the Detroit Tiger player from circa60s and 70s.

pablo said...

Umm, weren't we talking about football? Coach Kelly's political views are completely irrelevant.

As for the actual subject of the post, it's true that the training table and bookstore decision do not help to bring the football players closer to the rest of the student body. That being said, it's almost shocking that these changes did not occur sooner. The training table is absolutely necessary to be competitive (and Charlie campaigned hard for one), and it should be noted that it's only for certain meals. Besides, it's not like the football players sit at tables with anybody other than each other in the dining halls anyway. It's too bad they won't be playing bookstore anymore, but the injury liability is just too great -- it's surprising no player has gotten hurt yet to this point. Both of these changes are in effect quite minor for the purposes of promoting campus unity. The addition of the Gug did more to separate the players than anything else -- anybody wanna get rid of that and see how it affects the program?

Coach Kelly's comments regarding the attitude of the football players are not limited to this one occasion and do not strike me as insincere. They really don't even have any rhetorical value of significance -- it would be easier to just come in and talk about what fine student athletes we have like every other coach does. Regardless, only time will tell if somehow he finds a way to close the gap between football players and non-athletes under the Dome. I suspect that he won't, and I'm okay with that. They take the same classes and live in the same dorms (for awhile) as everybody else and a good handful of the guys are the kinds of guys who will form relationships outside of the Gug. That's a hell of a lot more than can be said at any other big-time football school. If he gets more of these types of guys, great -- but I honestly don't care as long as they graduate and represent the University well off the field.

Still, I wouldn't completely rule out the possibility that BK finds ways to make them connect more in limited circumstances. Personally, I'm for informal pep rallies in Stepan.

Dana Payne said...

Pablo:
Nice post...while not everything 30 or so years ago was better...the pep rallies were .
{ I guess football was too, come to think of it}.


Like the Stepan idea.

John1985 said...

Thank God for Pablo. Out of 9 comments, his was pretty much the only one to address the post. As for the post, it's been a long time since I walked the quads at ND; however, I recall that the players had a training table, at least during the season. It was in the dining hall, and they were separated from other students. The primary reason was that practice would run too late for the players to get to the dining hall before it closed. So, I don't really think a training table keeps them away from the student body more than they already are. Moreover, they live among every other student, well male students.

I'm reserving judgment on the Bookstore issue. If this is a one year thing, I don't have a problem with it. With a new and very different offense and a new defense, they need to be dedicated to football this spring. I believe BK has indicated that was the reason for keeping players from Bookstore Basketball.

It appears that the biggest problem with football student and non-footbal student relationship is attitude.