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Students hopeful with Kelly hire

Joe McMahon | Friday, December 11, 2009

Within minutes of news breaking that Brian Kelly would become Notre Dame’s 29th football coach, students started talking about how the former Cincinnati coach represents a new hope for the Irish.

“After suffering three years of mediocre football, I’m hopeful that Coach Kelly can restore Notre Dame’s winning tradition,” junior Richard Paulius said. “I guess this means the shirt next year will be Kelly green.”

While watching Kelly’s introductory press conference, junior Scott McIntosh said he was really impressed with how the coach handled the media’s questions calmly and politely — a departure from former coach Charlie Weis’ gruff handling of the media.

“Even though he’s just taken over the program, Kelly has really impressed me with the passion that he has for coaching at Notre Dame,” he said. “For not having gone here, Brian Kelly fits the Notre Dame type. He’s very affable.”

McIntosh said he hopes Kelly’s passion for the Irish can help land top-flight recruits to build a winning football team.

“I only hope that this passion will translate into landing recruits and winning games over the next few years,” he said.

Junior Riley Orloff was particularly impressed with the high-octane offense Kelly ran at Cincinnati, and said he hopes the new coach can develop Notre Dame’s talented players into national award-winning stars.

“If he can turn [Cincinnati quarterback] Tony Pike into a BCS quarterback, [Irish quarterback] Dayne Crist is going to win the Heisman,” Orloff said.

Freshman Adam Schmitz said although his first Notre Dame football season was disappointing, he thinks Kelly possesses the qualities of a successful Notre Dame coach.

“He’s very charismatic and he’s pumped up about our football team,” he said. “Plus, he knows the tradition.”

Schmitz said Kelly’s record of quickly turning around historically losing programs such as Cincinnati and Central Michigan is a strong indicator that he can snap Notre Dame football out of its decade-long malaise.

“Ultimately, I’d like to see them build to a championship by my senior year,” he said “He’s built programs very fast in the past, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable to win in three years.”

However, junior Marcus Perez is not convinced Kelly may be the perfect coach for Notre Dame, noting that Kelly is known as an offensive guru while the Irish’s biggest problem under Weis was an anemic defense.

“I would have liked to see a more defensive-minded coach, but I trust that Kelly will be able to lead the team to a great season next year,” Perez said.

For the Class of 2011, next year represents their last opportunity to see a winning regular season while at Notre Dame. Junior Mike Delach said he would like to see Kelly have a successful first year to help heal some of the worst scars of the Weis era, including avenging losses to Navy.

“I just hope Kelly can turn the program around next year before I graduate,” Delach said. “I’d like to see at least one winning regular season.”