Notre Dame Fighting Irish

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 26: Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish yells at a referee during a game against the Massachusetts Minutemen at Notre Dame Stadium on September 26, 2015 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Umass 62-27. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Brian Kelly ‘disappointed’ AD had to offer public vote of confidence


Dreaded or not, most people would appreciate  public display of support from their bosses.  Brian Kelly, though, is not most people.

With Notre Dame off to its worst start since 2007, many an observer opined that Kelly could be on the hot seat this year, and most certainly will sit on it heading into next season.  With speculation swirling, Jack Swarbrick looked to put the kibosh on such talk.

Brian will lead this team out of the tunnel opening day next year,” the Irish athletic director said last week. “I can tell you I continue to have complete confidence in Brian. … I get to see the program day in and day out and I continue to have great confidence in Brian and confidence in our future as a program.”

Kelly had, to say the least, an interesting response to Swarbrick’s public backing.

“Well I was disappointed actually,” the coach told Matt Fortuna of “But anytime that your athletic director has to come out and say that, as a head coach you’re disappointed that any kind of comments like that have to be made. So I didn’t ask him, that was his decision, but I clearly understand what he was doing. He was probably sick and tired of being sick and tired, too.

“But for me it’s disappointing, certainly, that you have to make those comments.”

After a 10-1 start to the 2015 season, the Irish have lost seven of their last nine games.  Included in that is a 2-5 start to a 2016 season that’s seen Kelly fire his defensive coordinator and throw his players under the bus for good measure.  Former Irish football players have sounded off and taken aim as well.

Notre Dame AD: Brian Kelly ‘will lead this team out of the tunnel opening day next year’

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 01:  Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and his team wait to head on to the field for the start of the game against the Syracuse Orange at MetLife Stadium on October 1, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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For those looking — or hoping — for Brian Kelly to be on the coaching hot seat, it appears you’ll have to wait another year or more.

Kelly’s Notre Dame squad, which began 2016 ranked 10th in the Associated Press Top 25, has had its fair share of issues on the field, stumbling to a 2-5 start that’s the program’s worst since 2007.  There have also been issues off the field related to those on-field struggles, with Kelly firing his defensive coordinator and throwing his players under the bus for good measure.  Former Irish football players have sounded off and taken aim as well.

Add it all up, and it had some thinking that Kelly might not be long for South Bend.  At least publicly, Kelly’s boss is emphatically putting the kibosh on such talk.

“Brian will lead this team out of the tunnel opening day next year,” Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick told earlier today. “I can tell you I continue to have complete confidence in Brian. … I get to see the program day in and day out and I continue to have great confidence in Brian and confidence in our future as a program.”

Kelly is in the midst of his seventh season at the school.  In the previous six, he’d led the Irish to a 55-23 mark.  Included in that total are a pair of 10-plus win seasons as well as an appearance in the BCS title game following the 2012 regular season.

In late January of this year, Kelly and the university reached an agreement on a six-year contract extension that runs through the 2021 season.

Notre Dame DL Jerry Tillery caught liking tweets about Les Miles as head coach

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 05: Jerry Tillery #99 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates after making a tackle against the Texas Longhorns during the second quarter at Notre Dame Stadium on September 5, 2015 in South Bend, Indiana.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images

Things are not going so smoothly in South Bend, Indiana this fall. Notre Dame dropped to 2-5 following a home loss to Stanford Saturday, putting the Irish on a steep uphill path to a postseason bid. For a team some considered a possible playoff candidate at the beginning of the year, it is fair to suggest the pressure is rising on head coach Brian Kelly to get something positive going for the Irish. Some have even gone so far as to suggest Kelly should be on a hot seat, if not a warm seat. While the idea of a coaching change at Notre Dame may still be a bit of a longshot, it hasn’t stopped some fans from suggesting it is time to make a chance and bring in Les Miles.

It just so happens Notre Dame defensive lineman Jerry Tillery took notice of some of those ideas on Twitter and started liking them on his account. Tillery’s account showed he liked a small handful of tweets from earlier this month suggesting Notre Dame move on from Kelly and hire the former LSU head coach. These tweets occurred in the two weeks after LSU fired Miles. After those liked tweets were discovered and starting making the rounds on the internet, Tilery responded with a tweet of his own on Sunday morning, suggesting he did not necessarily endorse the comments.

Does Brian Kelly have a locker room problem? He would  not be the first coach with a 2-5 record to be in that situation if he does. It is obvious things are not going according to plan in South Bend, but the Irish still have a chance to reach the postseason. It will just be difficult to avoid two more losses the way this team has been playing, especially on offense. Notre Dame must win four of its final five games against Miami, Navy, Army, Virginia Tech and USC in order to reach the six-win minimum to qualify for a postseason bowl game. The Irish have not missed the postseason since Kelly’s arrival from Cincinnati in 2010. One more loss will set a new high for losses in a season for Notre Dame under Kelly.

Stanford rallies to beat Notre Dame as Jimmy Clausen takes aim at Brian Kelly

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 15: Chris Finke #10 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish is tackled by Zach Hoffpauir #10 of the Stanford Cardinal at Notre Dame Stadium on October 15, 2016 in South Bend, Indiana.  (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Stanford (4-2) scored 17 straight points and pitched a shutout in the second half to stun Notre Dame (2-5) in Notre Dame Stadium, winning by a score of 17-10. It was a night that was led by the Stanford defense, which came up with nine points and had to be won by the Cardinal without Christian McCaffrey, who was out of action with an injury nagging from last week.

Stanford took its first lead of the game in the fourth quarter on a bizarre sequence at the end of an 11-play drive. Stanford running back Bryce Love (129 yards) rumbled toward the goal line but fumbled the football into the endzone. After a scrum, Stanford was awarded the go-ahead touchdown when it was determined Jesse Burkett recovered the fumble.

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly pulled his starting quarterback, DeShone Kizer, from the game early in the second half after tossing two interceptions on Notre Dame’s first two possessions of the second half, despite still leading at the time. The first interception was returned for a Stanford touchdown by Quenton Meeks from midfield. Kizer’s second interception came at the end of a 10-play drive on fourth down from the Stanford 38-yard line. Dallas Lloyd returned the interception to the Notre Dame 47-yard line, but the Cardinal would turn the ball right back over to the Irish when Ryan Burns fumbled the football while being sacked by Jonathan Jones. Jamir Jones jumped on the loose ball for the Irish.

Replacing Kizer was Malik Zaire, who showed some signs of bench rust in his first series. Zaire failed to complete either of the two pass attempts he passed, and he picked up just three rushing yards on three rushing attempts. There was certainly no spark there for Notre Dame. Eventually, Kizer returned to the field to lead the offense, and he led the Irish to a late offensive scoring threat with the game on the line.

Former Irish quarterback Jimmy Clausen was firing off some fire about the decision to pull Kizer on Twitter, suggesting Kizer should strongly consider leaving Notre Dame for the NFL Draft next season if Kelly doesn’t trust him.


Apparently, Kelly had a bit of an outburst on the field after the game, as Notre Dame’s final drive was ended on a fourth down attempt for a game-ending turnover on downs.

Notre Dame will get a week off to regroup and figure some things out with their offense. The next time Notre Dame takes the field will be in two weeks back in Notre Dame Stadium when the Miami Hurricanes travel to South Bend. The Hurricanes cracked the top 10 in the polls this season but have now lost two straight game sin ACC play, to Florida State and North Carolina. Miami does play next week, with a Thursday night road trip to Virginia Tech.

Stanford will look to pick up a much-needed win in Pac-12 play next week when they host the surprising Colorado Buffaloes next Saturday in Palo Alto.

Notre Dame pitching shutout against Stanford, leads 10-0 at half

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Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer ran for an eight-yard touchdown to give the Irish a 7-0 lead in the first quarter against Stanford. With the Cardinal playing without an injured Christian McCaffrey, Stanford looks to climb a steep hill in the second half as they trail Notre Dame 10-0 at halftime in South Bend.

Kizer’s touchdown run was his seventh of the season. He also is the game’s leading rusher at the end of the first half with 75 yards. Stanford, as a team, has rushed for just 64 yards, with Bryce Love accounted for 50 of the team’s 78 rushing yards.

Neither team has found a groove in the passing game. Kizer has completed six of 11 pass attempts for 79 yards. Stanford quarterback Ryan Burns has completed seven of 13 passes for 56 yards, with a late interception in the final minute of the first half. Stanford has also been a tad undisciplined with one turnover and four penalties for 30 yards in the first half.