Irish head football coach Brian Kelly told students that the football team needs to “get back to a collegiate sense of community” at a meeting with student government Tuesday.
Speaking to members of the Hall Presidents’ Council (HPC) and the Council of Representatives (COR) at the Guglielmino Athletics Complex, Kelly described the overhaul the football team recently underwent — and he wasn’t talking in terms of offense and defense.
Instead, Kelly said he was expecting the football team to get rid of the attitude of “us” and “them” and become a part of the student body.
“My job is to reconnect some of the things that I believe haven’t been emphasized in the proper manner,” Kelly said to the students. “This is not a relationship of separation. It should be all of us together.”
Kelly said he saw a divide between student-athletes and the rest of the student body when he arrived on campus this past winter. He said he believes football is the best way to “get the bridge between students and athletes back.”
“I want the players to reengage with something that is really unique to Notre Dame,” he said. “Part of that is the community and the love students have for what happens on this campus.”
In a personal attempt to have his players engage more with the student body, Kelly said he is looking for some different characteristics when it comes to recruiting.
“The kind of guys that I am recruiting here now are going to be hardworking and they better recognize the value of the Notre Dame education,” he said. “Not all of them will be on the same elite level as the students in this room, but they are going to work their butts off.”
Hoping to redefine what it means to be a football player at Notre Dame, Kelly gave a description of what he hopes people see when they look at the team.
“At the end of the day, I am looking for tough gentlemen — tough on the field and gentlemen off,” he said.
Now that the players knows what is demanded of them off the field, Kelly said they are more committed to their job, which, he said, is not being just a football player but being a Notre Dame football player.
“The number one thing I talk to my players about is whether or not they care,” he said. “If you aren’t excited to play for the University of Notre Dame then you are not going to play here.”
Kelly said he doesn’t want to have players who don’t understand the importance of the University they represent when they run out onto the field.
“My players should understand that if they’re going to come to Notre Dame, it’s going to be about being at a unique place,” he said. “There is a uniqueness to us that doesn’t make us better or worse, but it makes us different. The right kinds of guys understand that.”
Elaborating on what he thought was the right personality for his football team, Kelly told the students the players they will be seeing will bear little resemblance to some of recent years.
“We’re not going to be bringing in guys who want to hang out here while they wait for the NFL. Those days are over,” he said. “I want guys who want to play for Our Lady — I usually get what I want.”