No. 24 Notre Dame got close to beating No. 15 Georgia on Saturday night in South Bend, but the Bulldogs prevailed in a squeaker, 20-19. Afterward, Notre Dame’s famously irascible coach had a contentious exchange with a reporter:
The reporter aimed to ask Kelly a question about losing one-possession games, which the Irish did a bunch during last year’s 4-8 season. Here’s the doozy of a transcript:
Reporter: Obviously you’ve made a ton of changes, changed the culture, everything. But, obviously, you lost and at the very end, kind of like last year, seven of eight losses, how do you —
Kelly: What's the question? What’s the question?
Reporter: I'm getting to it.
Kelly: Well, get to the question.
Reporter: How do you keep this from snowballing?
Kelly: It's not gonna snowball. Next question.
Reporter: Well, what exactly will be different, I guess?
Kelly: There's nothing different. I go to work every day, and I coach my football team.
Kelly: Is that — is that good enough for you?
Reporter: Yes. I was just asking about how it was different from last year's losing by one possession.
Reporter. And tonight was also like that, so I was just wondering.
Kelly: Losing by one possession?
Kelly: No, it was one point.
Kelly: OK. Great. Thanks.
Kelly can respond to lines of questioning however he wants. He spent part of the offseason trying to soften his image, but this exchange is still understandable after a close loss. Emotions run hot during football games, and it’s standard procedure that coaches hold press conferences just minutes after they end. That’s going to lead to some terseness sometimes, and occasionally it’ll bring about outright hostility.
The brief issuance of a statement that prompts Kelly to ask “What’s the question?” is a little long, but it’s also not unusual. I’ve heard infinitely longer preambles that haven’t gotten that bark back. I’m sure I’ve offered them myself. Sometimes they happen.
The weird thing here is Kelly trying to haggle with the reporter over what constitutes a one-possession loss. He clarifies that Notre Dame lost by one point, but that’s also most definitely “one possession.” Just as every square is a rectangle, every one-point loss is also a one-possession loss. I don’t get what he was getting at there.
Notre Dame’s trended in a horrible direction in one-score games. This is both really unlucky and really hard to pull off:
Notre Dame suffers 8th loss in a 1-possession game since start of 2016, most in FBS. Irish are 1-8 in 1-possession games over that span.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 10, 2017
Eventually, some of these games should break Notre Dame’s way. But until then, Kelly will get these questions. And he’ll keep getting mad, I’m guessing, whether he exposes it this outwardly or not.