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A shining Golden Dome

Andrew Owens | Wednesday, September 8, 2010

For the first time in a few years, more than just the Golden Dome was shining on a football Saturday at Notre Dame.

Under new head coach Brian Kelly, the Irish showed a new attitude and a greater focus to detail than what has been seen under recent coaching regimes.

They tackled, ran the ball effectively and had some bright spots on special teams — three aspects that were rarely seen during the 16-21 stretch over the past three seasons.

It was a step in the right direction for a university that has been desperate for football success since the end of the 1993 season. With a coach as accomplished as Kelly (172-57-2 during his time at Grand Valley State, Central Michigan and Cincinnati), there are many reasons to believe that Notre Dame could once again join the elite of college football.

But one game or even one season does not determine the future success of the program.

Irish fans have been down this road before, anointing Tyrone Willingham and Charlie Weis the saviors of Notre Dame football after impressive starts (8-0 and a 9-2 regular season, respectively). But for each coach, initial success was soon forgotten due to recurring failures.

After three years under the Willingham regime, it was clear that the “Molder of Men” was incompetent unless on a golf course. I take that back — no one has mastered the ability to stick his index finger into the air after a rare touchdown like Willingham did.

Although Weis was a better coach and fit for the program than his predecessor, he too was unable to overcome some coaching demons, most namely the ability to field an above average defense.

I’m not saying that Kelly too will fail. If there is a man who can turn the program around, I believe it is Kelly. He transformed Division II school Grand Valley State into a powerhouse and developed both Central Michigan and Cincinnati from cellar dwellers to conference champions.

I’m also not saying that this campus should not be excited about the new-look Irish. Let’s be loud and enthusiastic and support this team as much as we can. This could be the start of something special for a proud university and football program. We could be the witnesses of the resurrection of Notre Dame football and a defining moment for the program.

So when the team goes out there Saturday and dominates Michigan, go crazy. But we might want to wait a little longer before we start counting National Championships

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Andrew Owens at aowens2@nd.edu