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Sports

‘We know he is a great coach’: Swarbrick reinforces Kelly’s abilities, discusses new practice facility

| Friday, August 30, 2019

Editor’s Note: This is the second part in a series featuring The Observer’s conversation with Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick. In this installment, Swarbrick discusses Brian Kelly’s coaching abilities and Notre Dame’s new practice facility.

Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick honed in on one word to describe Irish head coach Brian Kelly since 2016: Impressive.

He referenced the team’s speedy recovery since its down year during the 2016 season, when the Irish went 4-8.

“I never had a timetable expectation about it, as my boss [University President] Fr. [John] Jenkins said after the 2016 season, you don’t suddenly forget how to coach,” Swarbrick said. “We hired [Kelly] because he is a great coach, we know he is a great coach. We had every confidence in the world. That it has occurred and that he has done so successfully is just a reinforcement of what a great coach he is and all the reasons we were attracted to bring Brian here. He is very unique in his ability to look out over our entire program, assess what it needs and make the necessary changes.”

Anna Mason | The Observer

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly talks to a CBS reporter during Notre Dame’s 44-22 victory over Navy on Oct. 27 at SDCCU Stadium in San Diego.

One of the changes the Notre Dame football program needed was a new practice facility. The team frequently had to practice at non-ideal times in the offseason, making compliance with NCAA practice rules more difficult. Swarbrick believes the facility will be a critical piece of maintaining the football program and Notre Dame athletics moving forward.

“It’s a great and very needed addition,” he said. “It starts with football. We needed an indoor facility that allowed us to do the things that Loftus [Sports Center], while it served us well for many years, just did not allow us to do. We need a full field, we need to be able to run to sidelines without falling on a hard surface, we need the height to do the things that happen in the game of football. From that perspective, it’s been great.”

Swarbrick also emphasized that more sports than just football will be able to benefit from the new space.

“The importance of doing it now was related to its larger impact,” he said. “Under the NCAA time management legislation, which we fully endorse, we are limited in when we can practice. It created a real crunch in Loftus. By taking football out of Loftus and allowing soccer to practice in this new indoor facility, it makes the time management in Loftus more manageable for our other Olympic sports, and it creates additional recreation time.”

In recent years many college football programs have unveiled new facilities with features such as elaborate lockers that fold out into beds, game rooms and more. The Notre Dame facility lacks many of these frills. Swarbrick said this was an intentional choice.

“We want our approach to facility development to be about functionality,” he said. “We want it to be really nice, we want it to be among the best in the country, but we want those things that are nice to all be functional. We want to do them for a sport-related purpose or a nutrition or a sports science purpose, but not as some sort of enticement or social space, that’s not what we are trying to do. That’s our philosophy, I think it’s a good demonstration of it. The new basketball facility reflects that same dynamic.”

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