Saturday, December 12, 2009

Brian Kelly is Notre Dame's new coach

Brian Kelly has his dream job. Now he has to figure out how to turn a Notre Dame program mired in mediocrity back into a national championship contender — quickly.

Just as he did when he was introduced as the new Cincinnati coach three years ago, Kelly talked at his introductory news conference Friday about having a five-minute plan, not a five-year plan that reflects the length of his contract.

“When I refer to the challenge, it’s strictly getting to that high bar that’s been set at Notre Dame,” Kelly said in South Bend, Ind. “We’ve got challenges, but we’ll go to work on those right away.”

Kelly said he was ready to get to work restoring Notre Dame’s traditions.

“Those aren’t 8-4 years; those are national championship years,” he said. “So any time you’re talking about restoring a program and the challenges, it’s not about winning the conference championship.”

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Notre Dame has settled on Brian Kelly as the man who can restore its faded glory, just as he turned Cincinnati into a national title contender.

Just 10 days after Charlie Weis was fired, it's up to Kelly to revive the fortunes of a team that just completed the worst decade of football in the history of the storied program with a 70-52 record and three losing seasons.

Kelly got a five-year deal from Notre Dame and will be introduced as coach in South Bend on Friday afternoon. He declined to comment in Cincinnati, where he informed his players of the move after their football banquet Thursday night. He won't coach them in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

"I am very pleased that a thorough and extensive search has led us to a new head coach in Brian Kelly, who I am confident will help us accomplish our goal of competing for national championships," Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick said in a statement.

The 47-year-old Kelly was 34-6 in three seasons at Cincinnati, leading the Bearcats to back-to-back Big East titles and two straight Bowl Championship Series berths. The Bearcats set a school record last season for victories with an 11-3 record, then topped that with a 12-0 mark this season.

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