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Loyal Coach Kelly

Allan Joseph | Thursday, January 14, 2010

 “Lane Kiffin … Bobby Petrino, Rich Rodriguez, Brian Kelly and Nick Saban — all top-notch coaches whose combined lies could outweigh an ocean liner,” seethed ESPN.com’s (and Tennessee graduate) Gene Wojciechowski.

In an article describing Kiffin as “the most disgustingly hypocritical” coach in college sports, CBSsports.com’s Mike Freeman also mentioned Petrino, Rodriguez, Saban, John Calipari and Brian Kelly.
 
“Is Carroll a weasel coach, joining Rich Rodriguez, Nick Saban, Bobby Petrino and Brian Kelly as weasels who walked the instant dollars were waved,” ESPN.com columnist Gregg Easterbrook rhetorically asked after Pete Carroll’s hire by the Seahawks.
 
In addition to the columns and articles dismembering Kiffin for leaving Tennessee at a bad time after only 14 months, Internet message boards and discussion forums are afire with vitriol directed at USC’s new coach. In seemingly every opinion, the writer has drawn a comparison from Kiffin to other “scumbag” coaches, including our new hire, Brian Kelly. 
As a Notre Dame fan who stopped everything to watch Kelly’s introductory press conference –— and loved what he said — this is discomforting, to say the least. Is Kelly no better than Saban, who jumped from LSU to the NFL to Alabama, an LSU rival in three years? Is he no better than Petrino, who hung a “Finish” sign in the Falcons’ locker room and then left without finishing the regular season? Is he no better than Rodriguez, who –— well, let’s not get into the scUMbag-in-chief.
 
I sure hope not, and I’m sure you agree with me on that. Luckily, there’s reason to hope. Kelly’s teams at any level have not been accused of NCAA violations, and he took a job that was in every way better than his previous job. The other coaches? Not the case. This has been Kelly’s dream job since his childhood. Only Kiffin can say he was leaving for his dream job — but he only developed that “dream” as a member of Carroll’s coaching staff less than ten years ago. In addition, Notre Dame has never had a true “weasel coach” — the requirements for the job here to a large extent prevent that. 
 
But yet, that nagging feeling won’t go away.
 
“Kelly bolted from Central Michigan after three years because money was waved, now bolts from Cincinnati after three years because money was waved. Does anyone seriously think he won’t shaft Notre Dame if money is waved again? Kelly misled his Cincinnati players, then abandoned them the instant it benefited him. He’s a promise-breaker. Notre Dame, that’s the kind of person you want running your program,” asked Easterbrook. For now, let’s reserve judgment till all is said and done. I’m going to hope for the best, and I’m going to support Coach Kelly 100 percent because I do believe that he’ll be loyal to this school. But, on the unfortunate chance that the Internet critics are right, let’s not act like we didn’t see it coming.