Brian Kelly's Tenure At Notre Dame Isn't Doomed Just Yet

It's tempting to summon all sorts of fire and brimstone and condemn Notre Dame under Brian Kelly as no different from the Notre Dame of Charlie Weis and Tyrone Willingham's worst years. After a 35-17 shellacking at the hands of Navy, which has beaten the Fighting Irish three years running, it doesn't seem entirely wrong, either.

But it's important to note that Kelly's tenure as coach shouldn't be written off after two-thirds of a season. That would be as premature as the "Notre Dame is back!" chorus raised after Willingham and Weis each began their time in South Bend strongly. Instead, it seems worth noting that Weis inherited NFL-bound Brady Quinn and an offense that was stocked and still couldn't win a BCS bowl game, then ended up coaching a bad team last year with an NFL-bound Jimmy Clausen.

Those expecting Kelly to work miracles in his first season, with an untested Dayne Crist under center, underrated how low Notre Dame has sunk.

For years, the Irish have been an upper-middle-class college football outfit at best, and those sorts of teams occasionally lose to Navy. Domer fans should let Kelly recruit and build, as he did at Cincinnati, and expect recruits to need seasoning; Weis' teams have been porous on defense and at non-skill positions on offense, and coaching, whether from Kelly or Knute Rockne, probably isn't going to make greats out of gristle, and certainly won't do so immediately.

Perhaps he will fail to wake the echoes like his predecessors. But Brian Kelly deserves enough time to build his version of Notre Dame, and Irish fans should be cautious to leap to conclusions about whether he can just eight games into his tenure. It didn't work with the last two guys.

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