Coach Kelly presses 'reset' for 2017 season
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- It's a new look for the Irish football team in 2017. New coaches, a new quarterback and even a new role, so to speak, for Notre Dame Head Coach Brian Kelly.
Kelly talked about how he has picked up the pieces after last season's 4-8 record and the changes he has made within the program and himself.
Now that he’s been able to press “reset,” Kelly says it was necessary in order to move forward.
"You have to. You have to reset because I had to make a lot of changes in myself and the way I coach. I ask my players to grow everyday so I had to grow as a coach as well. So, call it reset, call it whatever you want but you have to now take the feedback that you got from last year and develop a plan and a mission of where you want to go the next year and that began the first day the players stepped on campus last January," said Kelly.
Recreating that mission meant an overhaul of the staff.
Kelly let go of six coaches and brought in new offensive and defensive coordinators, Chip Long and Mike Elko, and two position coaches as well as special teams. Don’t forget strength and conditioning coaches, Brian Polian and Matt Balis.
"That was, well it was probably the most difficult thing for me to do in terms of making some of the personnel changes that I made. but creating the right culture that I wanted. Going back to spending so much more time on process, on building those traits that I didn't build last year versus focusing strictly on production and catches and yards per carry and completion percentage and really focusing on attention to detail and focus and being smart and making good choices and grit," he said.
For Kelly, part of this season is handing over the play calling duties so he can take on a new role.
“As I mentioned, I think one of the things as a leader you need to be able to grow and with my new responsibilities, which is to really oversee the entire football team, I don't have the time to call the plays so now it's really coaching Chip and helping him grow as a young coach as well as giving the resources necessary to Mike Elko to build our defense back to a championship defense and Brian Polian in Special Teams as well as overseeing the number of collateral responsibilities that I have from recruiting and all the way down the line," said Kelly.
In addition to the play calling, Kelly has made some changes within him, too. He lost 15 pounds during the off season and incorporated yoga into his workout routine.
So will we see a more Zen-like Coach Kelly on the sideline?
"Now, as it relates to being a choir boy, I'm going to be demanding on this football team and I've always been demanding. But I've never been demeaning. So I'm never going to change when it comes to who I am. I'll be a demanding football coach but never demeaning," Kelly said.
With the pressure to win, people want to know, how many wins are enough?
"Well, I can tell you what our mission is. Our mission is to graduate all of our players and to win a National Championship. We don't have a set amount of wins; we're here to win a National Championship. So, our fans can conclude that what we're working for everyday is not five wins or seven wins or eight wins, we're working towards putting together a National Championship football team,” Kelly said.