Brian Kelly's journey from football player to coach
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- Brian Kelly's road to Notre Dame took him through Grand Valley, Central Michigan and Cincinnati-but before he ever started drawing up plays-he was learning how to execute them as a high school and college player himself.
Allison Hayes: I read that in high school, you were 5'8", 155 pounds and played offensive lineman, now nothing personal but that is shocking to me.
Coach Kelly: Well, I had a little bit of a growth spurt but I was a pulling guard, we were a wing-T offense. I was actually a linebacker but a couple of offensive linemen got hurt so they moved me to offensive line because they needed a guard to pull, in the traditional wing-T offense. I know you're well versed. They needed a guard to pull and I was a good puller, so I said, 'Sure, I'll give it a try.' So I played guard for a year in high school.
Hayes: I actually shot a lot of wing-T offense and it is the hardest thing to shoot with a camera because
Kelly: The misdirection.
Hayes: You literally have no idea.
Kelly: And I literally had no idea but I could pull and that got me a job and I was only too happy to do it.
After graduating from St John's Prep in Chelsea, Massachusetts that can-do attitude earned him a spot on the Assumption College football team
He played linebacker for the Division-2 Greyhounds from 1983 to 1986.
"I think what I remember the most about playing in college was the relationships that you have with your teammates, that I still have today. I don't remember a lot of the wins and the losses but I do remember the faces and the guys that I played with and the locker room," Coach Kelly said.
Coach Kelly has stayed in touch with his college teammates. Every year some of them come to South Bend to watch their buddy coach on the sideline at Notre Dame.
Dave Hazel and George Verrastro were captains on the 1981 Assumption team that won 8 games.
Hazel's brother Tom also played for a season with Coach Kelly.
After graduating from assumption in 1983 with a bachelor's degree in political science, Coach Kelly tested the waters in the real world- and quickly found it wasn't for him.
When did he know he wanted to be a coach?
"I think it was probably going on my second year when I was working in state government for a state senator, I would look out my window at 2:30 in the afternoon and I would say to myself, 'Man, why I am sitting at a desk? I should be coaching.' I think it got to that point where I said 'I'm going to go back to school.' And I went back to school and as a GA, they didn't have a football slot as a GA, they had a women's softball so I said I'll do whatever I need to do to get in and I took the women's softball coaching position to get in to coach football," Coach Kelly said.
At just 21 years old, Kelly took an unpaid position as the Greyhounds softball coach.
"Working with women was really great, because first of all they weren't going to the professional ranks, they were playing because they loved to play. And I really enjoyed coaching the women because they were so committed to wanting to learn. I think I learned about teaching, quite frankly. I didn't know a lot about the game so I was learning about it. And it required me to do a lot of research of the game and I had a lot of great gals that wanted to learn the game," Coach Kelly said.
Coach Kelly has taken that valuable experience as a coach and player at Assumption and has used it to help him throughout his coaching career.
"I think going to college and playing in college is certainly a lot different than high school because of the peer relationships that you have and the camaraderie. I was a captain as a junior and learning so much about how to handle yourself as a captain and the responsibilities backing up all of the stuff you do on and off the field and that helps me today in helping our captains. That's why when your locker room is right and your guys care about each other, you've got a great chance to be successful," Coach Kelly said.