Notre Dame was upset by South Florida, and everyone else was upset by head coach Brian Kelly’s potty mouth.
In the disastrous season opener, television cameras captured an obvious stream of expletives coming from the mouth of Kelly as the Fighting Irish fell to the visiting Bulls 23-20. Following a third quarter red zone play which resulted in a Notre Dame interception, Kelly exploded on wideout TJ Jones.
Although Jones ran the crossing route, he was clearly not ready to receive the pass from quarterback Tommy Rees. As a result, the pass bounced off Jones and was easily grabbed by a USF linebacker.
Frustrated (and understandably so), Kelly had some choice words for Jones when he returned to the sidelines.
The head coach’s emotional outburst was scrutinized in the week following the loss.
“The fact is that Notre Dame is the most well-known Catholic institution,” National Catholic Register blogger Matthew Archbold wrote. “Screaming and cursing at young students like that just isn’t acceptable.”
Some even went as far as to call for Kelly’s firing.
“I think the trustees of the university should fire him this morning,” Greg Pollowitz of the National Review Online’s Right Field wrote. “Not because of the loss but because of the way he treated his players. This is really uncalled for.”
What’s really uncalled for is the public outcry over all this. The response to Kelly’s language has been infinitely more shocking than the words the coach directed toward his players.
First of all, double-check your TV guide. You’re watching college football, not “Toddlers and Tiaras.” If you’re not tuned in to see some raw emotion, then you’ve chosen the wrong way to spend your Saturday.
Brian Kelly isn’t a kindergarten teacher. His job isn’t to hold his players’ hands. His job is to win games.
Many believed this season would be a turning point for the program as the Irish were poised for success. Kelly did everything in his power to prepare his team but the players didn’t hold up their end of the bargain. Who wouldn’t let out some four letter words?
Second, the “young students” Kelly was yelling at are in fact elite college athletes who are paid to play for their school. TJ Jones wasn’t given a scholarship to daydream during the third quarter. He receives thousands of dollars to catch the football. Jones underperformed, and as his head coach, Kelly has the right to express his dissatisfaction in any way he so choses. Relax, he didn’t hit the kid.
Finally, as far as Kelly’s wrongdoings, cursing is at the very bottom of my list. Where was the uproar over student videographer Declan Sullivan’s death?
Last October, Kelly ordered Sullivan to film football practice atop a 50-foot scissor lift tower despite winds exceeding 50 mph. The lift collapsed, and the 20-year-old Notre Dame student fell to his death — yet no one called for Kelly’s head. Since when is swearing on the sidelines a greater offense than recklessly endangering a student’s life?
Kelly is far from a saint, but if Notre Dame wanted a more holy head coach, the pope would be calling the plays. Nevertheless, I don’t think uptight fans have to worry about any more tantrums from Kelly this year.
Like Saturday night’s game against the Michigan Wolverines, the rest of the season will most likely leave Kelly speechless.