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Football

Irish head coach Brian Kelly named AP Coach of the Year

| Monday, December 17, 2018

On Monday, Brian Kelly became the third coach to be named a two-time winner of The Associated Press (AP) college football Coach of the Year, as Notre Dame’s head coach finished ahead of Alabama’s Nick Saban and UCF’s Josh Heupel to win for the first time since 2012.

Observer File Photo

Irish head coach Brian Kelly celebrates after winning the Citrus Bowl over LSU, 21-17, at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida.

Kelly joins Saban and TCU’s Gary Patterson as two-time winners. Kelly led the field with 81 total points and tied Saban with 16 first-place votes to win as the Irish finished the regular season 12-0 and finished third in the CFP rankings to book their first trip to the semifinal.

Kelly also won the award in 2012, when Notre Dame finished the regular season with an undefeated record, but the program fell in the national championship to Alabama. Kelly credited his growth as a coach since that loss, and his first losing season in 2016, as steps necessary to get him and the program back to national prominence.

“I think I’m a better leader of our program,” Kelly said to AP. “The organization has gotten so much bigger. The ability to create the right energy and day-to-day culture is difficult. I think I’ve gotten a lot better a leading that large group on a day-to-day basis.”

In nine seasons at Notre Dame, Brian Kelly is 81-34, and is the winningest active coach in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision.

Kelly will lead the Irish as they take on Clemson in the CFP semifinal — the Cotton Bowl — at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Dec. 29.

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