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Kelly: ‘And then I was mad as hell’

| Thursday, August 25, 2016

“My first [reaction] was disappointment, and then … that disappointment kind of moved on to embarrassment for the University.

“And then I was mad as hell.”

That’s how Irish head coach Brian Kelly described his emotions at a press conference Wednesday, his first following the arrest of six football players in two separate incidents last weekend.

“It’s a question unfortunately I’m equipped to answer,” Kelly said, when asked if his head coaching experience had prepared him for situations like the one that arose last weekend. “You have to be prepared as a college coach, unfortunately, to deal with some poor decisions. And they crop up, and I think you have to be fair, but I think you also have to be quick in making decisions.

“And when [the players’ actions] don’t square with your mission or your philosophy in your program or your university, you can’t be afraid to make decisions, and you can’t be swayed by external factors. You’ve got to do the right thing.”

Kelly dismissed senior safety Max Redfield and suspended senior cornerback Devin Butler indefinitely in Sunday’s statement, and the head coach Wednesday commented on the differences in his decisions for both players.

“I think my statement is pretty clear that a lot of these decisions aren’t joint in that there are other implications and the University is involved in these matters as well,” Kelly said.

Kelly also implied previous off-the-field issues with Redfield played into his decision to dismiss the senior, who was found with marijuana and a handgun in a car with underclassmen sophomores linebacker Te’von Coney, cornerback Ashton White and running back Dexter Williams and freshman receiver Kevin Stepherson during a traffic stop in Fulton County, Indiana.

Irish senior Devin Butler lines up before a play during Notre Dame's Blue Gold Game on April 16 at Notre Dame Stadium. Butler has been indefinitely dismissed from the team.Chris Collins | The Observer
Irish senior Devin Butler lines up before a play during Notre Dame’s Blue Gold Game on April 16 at Notre Dame Stadium. Butler has been indefinitely dismissed from the team.

“There’s a lot of things going on there,” he said. “Any time you dismiss somebody from the program, that’s serious, so I would say the best way to characterize that, is that it’s gotta be serious for me to dismiss somebody from the program.”

Kelly also noted he and his staff had talked with the team, but declined to provide specifics about what was said or any new rules he had placed on the team, saying only “they know exactly what’s expected of them on a day-to-day basis.”

Kelly added there were many messages he wanted his team to take from the experience.

“They’re life lessons. One, it’s more than just you,” Kelly said. “We talk about selfish decisions. We talk about representing more than just yourself. You represent the University, you represent the program, you represent an entire fan base.

“Those are the things we talk about more than anything else. It’s just not about you.”

The fallout from the arrests Friday night and in the early hours of Saturday morning continued Wednesday, as a St. Joseph county judge entered a preliminary not guilty plea on behalf of Irish senior cornerback Devin Butler, the first of the six players to appear in court.

St. Joseph Superior Court Magistrate Elizabeth Hardtke entered the not guilty plea on Butler’s behalf because Butler did not have an attorney present. That plea will become formal in 20 days unless Butler and the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office reach a plea deal before that deadline.

Butler’s initial hearing is scheduled for Sept. 1 at 9 a.m. The senior is charged with two Level 6 felonies — resisting law enforcement and battery against a police officer — stemming from an incident that occurred early Saturday morning outside the Linebacker Lounge.

In his press conference Wednesday, Kelly said there has been no change in Butler’s status with the team.

“He is still indefinitely suspended,” Kelly said. “He is not practicing. He is not in the building. He is not part of any football team-related activities at all.”

Kelly also said the four players arrested in Fulton County with Redfield are practicing with the team and “will be available to play” the season opener against Texas on Sept. 4, if that decision is left to their head coach.

“There could be further actions from the University, and that we’ll have to take into course,” Kelly said. “I think the University is certainly looking at all of these cases and will be certainly expediting or moving quickly through the process, but those matters are out of my hands. I’ve dealt with it internally. They’ve been handled within the program, and the rest will be about what the University does.”

Both Redfield and Butler are still enrolled at the University, according to University spokesperson Dennis Brown.

“Obviously what happened this weekend was disappointing for our football team,” senior offensive lineman and new captain Mike McGlinchey said after Kelly finished speaking. “ … It’s our job to kind of right the ship now. It’s the players’ job to continue what we need to do here and be the men that we need to be here, and obviously this weekend was a tough situation and we’re going to move past it, and all eyes are on Texas now, and that’s all we can do, is put our heads down and work.”

Associate news editor Emily McConville contributed to this report.

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About Zach Klonsinski

A History graduate, Zach spent all four of his years on campus as a resident of Knott Hall. Hailing from Belgrade, Montana, he covered a wide variety of sports in his time at Notre Dame, including Football, Hockey, Men's Basketball, Men's Soccer, Women's Tennis, Fencing, Rowing, Women's Lacrosse and other events around campus. You can contact him in his post-graduation travels and job search at [email protected]

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