Where should the bar be set for Brian Kelly in 2017?

As fall practice begins, it’s getting closer and closer to prediction time for all of your favorite writers. And for Notre Dame in 2017, that means that every one-line prognostication will devote a few words to Brian Kelly’s future. “Notre Dame: 9-3 with an improved defense under Mike Elko, cooling Brian Kelly’s hot seat.” Or conversely, “Notre Dame: 7-5, with several close losses leading to Brian Kelly’s dismissal.”

A favorite message board topic is also how many wins Kelly needs to keep his job heading into 2018. Despite Jack Swarbrick’s public statements of confidence in BK, I think there’s widespread agreement that six wins or fewer this fall will lead to a transition. Similarly, improvement from 4-8 to at least 9 wins or more seems destined for Kelly to return. Seven or eight wins is a grey area, and then it starts to matter more about how the wins and losses take place and the margins of victory or defeat.

These predictions and debates bring up some larger issues – how should Jack Swarbrick and others be judging football performance year to year? What’s the standard, and how should wins and losses figure in along with other measures of program quality? Let’s tackle those issues first, and then look ahead to what needs to be seen in 2017 for Kelly to return for another season.

Where should the bar be set for a Notre Dame coach?

Ultimately, every coach will be judged based on wins and losses. A team will never make the College Football playoff with less than 10 wins, and even a 10-win playoff team is unlikely unless there’s 2007-level chaos again. As Herm Edwards said, “You play to win the game!” and there’s no advanced statistics that will save a coach who is consistently losing more games than an athletic director and fanbase expects.

Simultaneously, there needs to be some recognition that wins are fickle and often the result of some year to year randomness that you’ll inherently deal with in a small sample size like 12-13 games. Some years your schedule will break in the right direction and random events like fumbles recovered and deflected passes turning into interceptions will bounce your way. Other years will be like 2016, with a number of losses in close games that would be difficult to replicate even if that was your goal.

The details beyond wins matter, which is how a 10-win season like Notre Dame in 2015 is argued as either one of Brian Kelly’s finer coaching performances (10-wins despite tons of injuries and playoff contention) or a disappointing measure of the program’s current ceiling (can’t beat top teams, clearly undermanned against a championship caliber program like Ohio State). West Virginia and Michigan both had 10-win seasons last year in P5 conferences, but the degree of difficulty and margin of victory matter, especially if you’re looking to project performance and progress moving forward.

Other sports have widely used advanced stats to determine if teams are over and under-performing relative to their records – Pythagorean expectations have been used for years, starting in baseball but recently applied to basketball and pro football.  These stats, along with Bill Connelly’s second-order wins, have been validated in identifying teams over and underachieving relatively to their wins and losses and their predictive value in then leading to regression toward a “truer” record in the following seasons.

If the goal is setting a standard for performance year to year, then program quality is a steady year to year barometer to complement wins and losses. Program quality would be like your baseline temperature, with wins (and their inherent randomness) acting almost like windchill or humidity that due to randomness and small samples can deviate from expected outcome. In this analogy, last season for the Irish would be like a 58-degree day with 40 mph gusts that pull the “feels like” temperature down to 32. But keeping an eye on these circumstances and program quality could prevent a hasty decision based on W-L record – either in investing further in a coach who is overachieving and benefiting from some luck that’s unlikely to continue, or firing a coach that’s been the victim of a series of unfortunate events .

For Notre Dame, fans could debate where the bar should currently be set for all eternity – playoff contention every year? Making the playoff once every other year? Double digit wins in the vast majority of seasons with a couple free passes for a proven winner? There will never be unanimous agreement, but I’ll propose a starting point that’s maybe conservative but realistic and attainable – top-10 quality almost every year. Over the past seven years (consistent with Kelly’s tenure), Stanford and Oklahoma seem like what Notre Dame should be expecting as they’ve established themselves as consistently strong programs with close to the same talent coming in via recruiting.

A top-10 quality team should almost always guarantee the record needed to consider it a successful season – 63 of the 70 teams finishing in the top 10 of F+ over the last seven seasons won ten games or more. The inverse, however, holds true less often – there are multiple examples each season of power five schools with double digit wins whose quality (per F+) was only that of a top 20-30 team or worse, like 2015 “playoff contender” Iowa (38th in F+). Now if there’s a consistent trend of under-performance in win-loss record compared to program quality, it could be symptomatic of a larger issue with a coach and program. Which leads us to…

How has Brian Kelly performed against the standard of a top-10 team?

Utilizing F+, a combination of Bill Connelly’s S&P+ and Brian Fremeau’s FEI ratings, both of which are strong advanced stats systems incorporating things like opponent adjustments and throwing out garbage time, it’s interesting to look at Notre Dame under Kelly. He inherited a team from Charlie Weis that finished 25th in S&P+ in 2009, and brought consistent improvement over the next three years. Kelly reached a top-10 level by year two, and then repeated it in year three with some good fortune resulting in a title game appearance.

The trend line after 2012, however, isn’t pretty. Looking at winning percentage in these seasons makes the decrease in quality look less dramatic, as the 2010 and 2011 teams drastically under performed relative to their quality, going 8-5 with a top-15 and then top-10 level teams. It’s a huge concern Kelly’s teams haven’t performed at a top-20 level (much less top-10) in years four, five, and seven. And probably the only thing that’s saved Kelly’s job is the equity he built with Jack Swarbrick from his work in years 1-3, combined with some leading indicators like recruiting remaining solid.

The graph above also begs the question of why there are at least three years (2010, 2011, 2016) in the BK era where the team’s record has pretty dramatically under performed relative to program quality and expected wins. Under performing relative to program quality is a secondary problem – the biggest concern should be a team that hasn’t performed at the quality level it should. As Bill Connelly wrote when explaining differences in second order wins among coaches who consistently over and under-achieve, “this is only one aspect of good coaching … creating a good team and winning easy games is a larger aspect.  But if it’s happening consistently, it erodes any margin of error, and raises the question of whether the coaching staff’s preparation, decision-making, or conditioning are causing losses in close games.

Where should the bar be set in 2017?

After finishing 29th in F+ last season, combined with performances below the top-25 level in three of the past four years, Kelly needs to show strong improvement to argue he’s made changes that are correcting the program’s course back to a top 10 (or near) level. A top 10-15 performance would represent a step in the right direction, and unless lightning strikes twice, will lead to enough wins that Kelly should be back. Any worse than top-15 in program quality, and that’s where lucky with wins and losses will determine Kelly’s fate. His failures over the past few seasons give BK less wiggle-room, so even with solid improvement in program quality, a second consecutive season with poor performance in close games, bad turnover luck, and other factors could lead to his dismissal.

Both S&P+ and FEI agree in the preseason that Notre Dame’s most likely record is 8-4. Both are assuming the Irish improve – S&P+ has ND 17th, FEI 19th – but will that be enough if it holds true? Close game luck is due for some regression to the mean, but what if Notre Dame again plays too many close games, where the expected winning percentage should still hover around .500 year to year? It’s easy to envision scenarios where an Irish team that’s around the 15-20th best team nationally could win 10 games if the schedule turns out a bit softer than it looks now. Just as easily could the Irish drop a low-possession game with Navy, lose close contests with quality opponents, and finish 6-6.

Strangely it seems like Swarbrick’s decision next offseason will come to a few bounces of fortune either way – another underachieving season spells the end of the BK era. A bounce-back probably ensures at least a couple more years of Kelly at the helm, but could simultaneously not really represent a big step forward in program quality. As a fan I’ll be selfishly hoping for clarity one way or another. I’m looking for either a huge comeback both in program quality and record that’s truly indicative of improvement that will be sustained and lead back to consistent top 10 performances in the future (which seems less likely, but more fun to root for and I’m an optimist) or another season that makes it abundantly clear a new coach is needed to meet the standard of success for the program (which would be terrible, but better long-term for the program).

By |2018-05-09T22:26:04+00:00August 2nd, 2017|18S Reads|49 Comments

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nd09hls12
nd09hls12

Excellent post, and I think that is a very fair take. And, agreed: finishing with an 8-4 record and a S&P+ of 17-20 almost seems like a worst-case scenario, because anyone could read into that whatever they want to. Clarity would be ideal.

Which, of course, means that we’re going to go 8-4 and finish with an S&P+ of 18.

MikeyB
MikeyB

One other break that Kelly needs is bowl game opponent, especially if its a 7/8 win regular season. Based on the past few years, I don’t have a ton of confidence in his teams punching above their weight. So he needs a matchup with an opponent of equal or lesser quality to steal that extra win.

On the flip side, if he gets to 9 wins and ND gets awarded an elite opponent in a bowl game, he can’t get blown out. I don’t think Swarbrick would fire him for that, but it would have ND fans up in arms yet again about whether or not Kelly is ELITE.

Publius2010
Publius2010

I think this really shows that Kelly has leaned on awful coordinators on both sides of the ball. Diaco was really the only successful one among all the DC OC hires (then again, who knows how much of the offense the coordinator was in charge of). The CEO coach model won’t work if you keep delegating responsibility to assistants who aren’t good at it, and it certainly won’t work if you’re detached from the program like Kelly mentioned he was last season.

DCIrish84
DCIrish84

The problem with playing close games is that you put your fate in the hands of bad bounces, one way or the other. Losing a close game to USC on a bad bounce is one thing, losing a close game to Navy on a bad bounce is another. Kelly’s problem is that too many of his bad bounce losses have come to Navy, Tulsa, etc. The teams have had a tendency to get blown out against elite opponents, and don’t seem to steal any wins there.

Russell Knox
Russell Knox

I’m with you Eric. Give me a great year, with a bunch of wins, or a terrible year, with a bunch of losses. Let’s get on with determining the direction of the program, one way or the other.

juicebox
juicebox

If we’re asking for something, can’t we just ask for the first?

MTI98
MTI98

A lack of multiple rings sets BK apart from Urban and Saban (like 99% of the coaches in the NCAA). However, a lack of consistency is basically all that sets BK apart from Stoops, Shaw, Petersen and other coaches that TOS pines about on a regular basis.

8-4 should be a bad year, not 4-8.

I truly hope the changes in the off-season will reset the bar, but I was optimistic about the round of changes that brought us BVG too!

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

It has been argued in the comments here (recently!) that BK is a top-10, second-tier coach. The data in this post shows that opinion to be obviously invalid. Not that the data should have really been necessary to realize that in the first place.

MTI98
MTI98

True. And the hard part to stomach is the fact that he was remarkably consistent at his previous stops — or he wouldn’t be the ND coach. So either he got away from what he knew worked or he is in over his head — neither is good.

Hopefully he just got distracted from what he knows can work and the new hires/renewed focus/attention to detail is the prescription to return to consistent success. Fingers crossed!

juicebox
juicebox

I completely disagree with this, obviously. As I am the one who argued it, and will continue to argue it.

The only data I see here, is that OU has significantly out performed ND in 2014, 2016, and 2010. If you want to say data proves BK isn’t a top 10 coach, how about finding 10 coaches who have consistently been better than BK in F+ since 2010.

I grant Shaw is better. If BK has an extra 1 win a year, something that would be pretty easy coaching at OU, he basically is Bob Stoops since 2011. I have seen nothing that makes me think BK wouldn’t do as well as Stoops at OU, or Stoops would out perform BK at ND.

You seem to think winning 10 games at OU is more difficult than winning 8 games at ND, which sure hasn’t looked like the case to me this century.

Brendan R

Clearly Kelly has done a mostly underwhelming job at Notre Dame, but I don’t think you can look at the entire body of his work across his career and say that he’s obviously a third-tier or worse coach. He had a .768 win percentage and two national titles in Division II, won a MAC title at Central Michigan, and went 33-6 at Cincinnati, which had a historical win percentage of around .480 and had been a .500 team under his immediate predecessors, Dantonio and Minter. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not happy with the job he’s done at Notre Dame and I don’t think he’s on the level of Meyer or even close to him. But that winning at previous stops didn’t all happen by accident, he doesn’t suck at what he does. I think that should make Notre Dame fans pretty concerned, honestly; by track record, I think he’s quite obviously an above average coach, and yet he hasn’t figured it out here consistently through seven seasons. Yikes. Purely from a football standpoint, I would trade Kelly in a heartbeat for Meyer, Swinney, Petersen, or Harbaugh, and *maybe* for Stoops and Saban, who I think were more a product of a perfect marriage with their institution than truly elite coaches. And a double maybe on Shaw, who was set up by Harbaugh. After those guys, is there really anyone out there that you’re *absolutely positive* would be a better *football* coach? I don’t think Richt, Fisher, Dantonio, Patterson, Ferentz, Franklin, Helton, etc. have anything particularly compelling in their profiles. Now add in the additional layers that coaching at ND requires – the coach has to expect kids to be serious about classes (disqualifies everyone but Shaw and Harbaugh), has to expect kids to behave (disqualifies Meyer, Stoops, Fisher, Franklin), has to be eminently comfortable in the limelight (disqualifies Petersen, Dantonio, and Patterson)… I could go on, but you get the point. I’m positive that Meyer could succeed within the limitations of ND if he wanted to, but he doesn’t want to. I think Swinney would probably do well here, although he certainly benefits from a nearly unrestricted recruiting talent pool. I think Harbaugh or Shaw would probably do well, although Harbaugh would have a limited shelf life and I’m not convinced how different the records would be if you swapped Kelly and Shaw. That’s the list. Saban had a very BK-like run at LSU – 8-4, 10-3, 8-5, 13-1, 9-3 – and was essentially a .500 coach with MSU and the Dolphins. He’d be just a guy anywhere but Alabama, which is perfect for him. Stoops? Please. 54% graduation rate, Joe Mixon, and Dorail Green-Beckham. I don’t care if he’s Catholic and he likes to run the ball (he doesn’t, btw), he’s not even remotely a fit at ND. As for Fisher, res ipsa loquitor. Richt seems like a good guy and would be a good fit culturally, but he just got canned at Georgia for basically the same… Read more »

MTI98
MTI98

Very well said. That’s why you are the pro 😉

Of the two options I presented above, I personally believe that BK got away from what he knew at his other stops. Maybe he thought he’d arrived. Maybe he got distracted. I don’t know, but I do think he took a hard look in the mirror this off season and made some important changes.

Maybe his career trajectory will mirror Mack Brown’s. It took forever for him to get over the hump and put it all together at UT.

juicebox
juicebox

You make a really good point here. Few of the great coaches really go out on top. Almost all fade away. Lou, Bowden, Paterno, none had great teams at the end. Stoops had a better ending than them despite me not being wowed.

I believe there was an article on here that showed at least at ND, once you start to dip, it is hard to come back. That is kind of true in the general world as well. Things are cyclical, it is hard to stay on top for long.

Maybe Kelly peaked in 2007-2012. It was a helluva run.

And the most unceremonious end goes to…Woody Hayes!!!! for punching a college student (sure he was a player) on the field. That is insane. It is still wild to me that isn’t more well know about him.

Cubfansince1957
Cubfansince1957

I saw the game in which Hayes punched a defensive player who had intercepted OSU’s last gasp pass and ran out of bounds right in front of Hayes. I think the opponent was Clemson, and it was a bowl game.

Inexcusable!

Cardsfan14
Cardsfan14

Love your insight. Just out of curiosity, what makes Saban a better fit for Alabama than LSU? Seems like their potential for recruiting prowess is similar, albeit Bama might be a bit of a more historic program.

Brendan R

It’s Bama’s blue blood status and institutional willingness to subjugate everything to football. Other schools might have one of those, or mix them to a degree, but I don’t think the combo is stronger anywhere than it is at Alabama.

And he wasn’t a bad fit at LSU – I mean he won a title and probably would’ve won Les’s if he had stuck around. I just don’t think he would have the machine he does in Tuscaloosa.

gbsk
gbsk

It seems to me that Saban did much better at Tiger aU than Kelly has done at ND. Saban won 75% of his games at LSU and Kelly has won ^5% of his games at ND. Plus, as you said Saban has a Natty at LSU and Kelly got blown out in the Natty game against Bama.

Brendan R

Did I say that Kelly did better than Saban did at LSU? I didn’t say that. I said that Saban had a BK-like run at LSU, which I stand by. He had a .750 winning percentage, and coming into last season Kelly had a .705 winning percentage at ND. At LSU Saban had one excellent year with half a national title, one good year, and three disappointing years. From 2010-2015, Kelly had one excellent year without a title, one good year, and four disappointing years. Saban got the weaker matchup in the BCS title game that we didn’t – they missed AP national champ USC to face #3 Oklahoma, while we missed Kansas State after their Baylor upset and instead took on Alabama. On such trifles hinges the fate of nations and all that… Also, with all the time to prepare that 2012 Alabama team probably would’ve blown out anybody. 21 of their 22 starters went on to be signed by an NFL team.

Anyway, the point is, Saban’s LSU tenure and Kelly’s pre-2016 ND tenure aren’t hugely different. Obviously 2016 happened and matters, but I’m comparing the run before that because plenty of people were very dissatisfied with Kelly *before* the season and would have been willing to back up the Brinks truck for Saban, yet at that point Kelly’s record and Saban’s LSU record were very similar. His MSU record was very pedestrian – in five seasons there he went 6-5-1, 6-6, 7-5, 6-6, and 9-2 – and his Dolphins record needed to improve to get to pedestrian (9-7 and 6-10 in two seasons).

All of *that* is a long way of saying that hiring a coach is a crapshoot, and fit between coach and institution is a big, big deal and really hard to judge beforehand in most cases. Again, I’m certainly not OK with the job Kelly has done overall, but there’s also no obtainable coach out there who I’m 100% positive would do a better job. So to me, giving him a shot at one reboot makes sense from a risk/reward perspective.

Russell Knox
Russell Knox

I need multiple thumbs up for that one Brendan.

juicebox
juicebox

I think you make the point that I’m not sure I ever made, but is really the heart of my argument. It isn’t that BK is necessarily some amazing coach, and honestly I wouldn’t care if he were fired right now (I mentioned in one of the recruiting posts that I care way more about some of the ACs at this point). But mostly, there just aren’t any coaches out there who are particularly awe inspiring.

Stoops career certainly is awe inspiring, and you had a great post about it and how it fell at a really inopportune time for him to be considered one of the true greats. But even as good as he is in his career, “Big Game Bob” hasn’t been said without sarcasm in 10+ years.

I don’t think you give Shaw enough credit. People have been doubting him because of following Harbaugh for years, but Shaw has climbed higher than Harbaugh did there, and it has been a long time since he left.

Brendan R

Good points. I definitely think Shaw is a good coach, I’m just not sold on how well he could build a program (which Harbaugh unquestionably did for him) or on him finding the same success outside Stanford. For as much heat as Kelly takes on recruiting, Shaw is less involved and basically relies on the “exclusivity” of the Stanford offer to draw kids. And he’s a Stanford alum, so there’s a natural fit there that he might not have elsewhere.

Plus it’s worth noting that Stanford Fan hasn’t always been enamored of him, particularly regarding offensive strategy and tactics. But then fans are never happy, so we probably shouldn’t read too much into that.

juicebox
juicebox

True, building a program and maintaining one are very different animals. Harbaugh has only built, never maintained, and Shaw has only maintained, never built.

Clearwall
Clearwall

One thing I’ve noticed in the last decade or so is the success YOUNG coaches are having at all levels of football. Maybe we should stop demanding that our next coach has 20 years of proven track record of success and an X winning percentage to hire him? I wonder if players nowadays just dont respond to their daddy or grandaddy on the football field and react more positively towards someone closer to their age? What if we bucked our trend and hired a 30-yr old coordinator that showed promise?

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

That’s a great response, and I appreciate it. I certainly take and accept the points that (a) winning at Notre Dame is distinctly harder than almost all other elite programs and (b) many of those elite program coaches are not fits at Notre Dame. I think that (b) is a bit irrelevant to the “is BK a top-10 coach?” question; a way to turn that around is to ask if you think that Kelly would be having the success that Shaw is having at Stanford or Stoops had at Oklahoma or Chris Peterson is having at Washington or Dabo has at Clemson etc. I think the answer to that is very likely not (while realizing that is not fully knowable). Which is why I think he is a third-tier coach, at best.

The more relevant point for (b) is, of course, with whom we should replace Kelly and the “can we do better?” question, which is distinct. I think the answer is “probably”, but I have much greater doubt about that question with regard to the particular available candidates last offseason – i.e., assuming Chris Peterson wasn’t willing to leave a team that just made the CFP and Urban Meyer’s “dream job” still really isn’t his dream job. So it would have been a crap shoot. But, I tend to agree with you: it’s very likely going to be a crap shoot regardless.

If BK ends up turning it around (and thus I look like an idiot), well, great. If things tank and we end up hiring Petersen, I look like an idiot again for believing so strongly that they should have gotten rid of him last year, but, again, great. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t put high probability on either of those happening.

nd09hls12
nd09hls12
Brendan R

Sigh… Forgive my reflexive need to avoid siding with Spencer on anything, but… Yes, he threw 26 times. He also ran 36 times, for a whopping 2.2 yards per carry, against the team ranked #11 in S&P rushing defense. If we had run the ball ten more times, which would’ve given us about the same split as NC State, I don’t think the extra 20 yards really would’ve mattered. Hell, NC State ran it more than we did and they didn’t get into the end zone either.

Everything was a losing proposition that day. It’s an embarrassment to the ACC that they wanted that game played so badly. My biggest problem with the coaches that day is that Kelly and Doeren didn’t get together and tell the ACC where to shove it. They’re lucky nobody got seriously hurt.

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

As somebody who was there (for 1.5 quarters, anyways), I cannot agree with your second paragraph more.

Russell Knox
Russell Knox

This is kind of like a “who could whoop who, Superman or Bateman” argument. It’s all hypothetical and probably based more on emotion and conjecture than actual facts and knowledge.

juicebox
juicebox

Superman would whip Bateman. He hasn’t been great since Arrested Development’s original run. Unless you meant Patrick Bateman. That is not a fight I would want to see.

Brendan R

I think I’m confused on your tiers. Are you saying that Swinney, Stoops, Shaw, and Petersen are second-tier coaches? Because I would define them as first-tier, as in the guys at the top of their profession right now based on performance. If you’re saying that Kelly’s Notre Dame record doesn’t put him in a tier with those guys, I agree. When you say “third tier” I think of guys like Ferentz, Helton, etc., and I would strongly disagree if you’re saying Kelly isn’t better than them. But if your second tier is everyone who wins a lot but isn’t Meyer, Saban, and Harbaugh (I don’t think Harbaugh belongs with the other two and I certainly don’t think he belongs ahead of Swinney, but that’s another story), then yes, I agree with you.

ND was never Meyer’s dream job, that was just a facade to get more money out of Florida. Supposedly one of the conditions of taking the Ohio State job was two admissions exceptions every year. AT OHIO STATE. He’s never, ever, ever coming to ND, even if we offered him $10M per.

I like Petersen a lot and I think he’d do well on the field, but he might turn into Devine 2.0. He doesn’t like a lot of attention, which is why he turned down the USC job before they hired Sark; I can’t see him ever being comfortable at ND. Of course, Devine did win a title for us, so Devine 2.0 wouldn’t be the worst thing.

I think we’re going to have to roll the dice on a PJ Fleck or Jeff Brohm or Derek Mason or someone like that.

And for the record, yes, without the extraneous stuff he has to deal with at ND I do think Kelly would be winning 10 games a year at Oklahoma or Washington or wherever. Would he win titles? I don’t know. But he was winning 10 games a year at Cincinnati, so yeah, I think he could do that at one of the big boys. Like Russ says, though, it’s a fruitless argument.

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

Yes – I view Saban and Meyer in their own little tier of potential all-timers.

Brendan R

By the way…I gave a thumbs-up in response to your first line, and I should say that I really appreciate the way you go about making your point as well. I wish all internet debate was as reasoned and cordial as our back and forths are.

Which brings me to my next point… Don’t do crack. No, that’s not my next point, but there’s never a bad time to quote The Waterboy. My next point is that I think you and I disagree fairly strongly on a few points, and it can create a perception that there’s this enormous gulf between our positions. I think we have a lot of common ground, though, and I just wanted to highlight that so it isn’t always about the debate.

For example… I’m dissatisfied with the job Kelly has done overall at ND. I think he has been hit by some awful luck with suspensions, injuries, etc., but he has also clearly made a number of very serious mistakes. The worst, of course, was hiring VanGorder, and the second worst was sticking with him after 2015. I think he had an edge when he came to ND but somehow lost it, and has been struggling to get it back for the last few years. I’m not sold that he can. I think he’s pretty clearly below the top level of coaches, but good enough to get us to the mountaintop every so often if he could just stop stepping on his own crank for a while. Whether or not he can avoid that will determine how long he sticks around.

And I’ve said this many times before, but while I see the case for keeping him I also wouldn’t have faulted Swarbrick for firing him last year. I was ready for him to move on.

juicebox
juicebox

I’ll give my 2 cents some of the questions from nd09hls12 as well, since I started this all.

I actually don’t consider BK tier 2, as I too see Saban/Meyer as tier 1. Then there are guys like Dabo, Shaw, Peterson, Harbaugh, maybe Fisher. Then there’s tier 3, which is guys like Miles, BK, post 2010 Stoops, Dantonio, Richt, Beamer, (probably a handful more). I don’t really think it is worth trying to rank within each tier.

As to coaches who I think BK would have done just as well as at their school (not necessarily better). That is everyone not in the top 2 tiers, and maybe even some like Fisher who is in a great spot. Maybe Peterson since he has only 1 year in a real conference, so far BK did at ND and previous stops what Peterson has done at UW and previous stop. Same goes for BK and Harbaugh. I think Harbaugh is a better coach, but he hasn’t had sustained success at any program, and hasn’t reached the same heights as BK in CFB.

Coaches who would have more success at ND than BK. Who freaking knows. I think these guys would: Meyer, Dabo, Peterson, Shaw, maybe Harbaugh (his 3 years everywhere have tended to look like BK’s first 3 years at ND). After that, here’s hoping Savvy Jack has some ideas.

When BK does leave/get fired, I want us to hire some young guy with potential, over Gruden or pulling Stoops out of retirement.

irish_bandit_10
irish_bandit_10

I can’t quite explain why, but I feel like I’m more bullish on the Irish this year than most prognosticators, similar to how I asked people why they were predicting 10 wins last year (even though I didn’t predict THAT bad of a season.
I completely agree that it would be outstanding to find clarity one way or the other. I’m thinking a 9-3 regular season with a bowl win over an OK opponent, topped off with a Top-10 recruiting class, to make us feel confident in the program again.

MTI98
MTI98

I’m bullish this year too. A win over UGA early could give the team enough confidence to win 9 or more games. If you made me guess I’d say 9-3 with a good win and a questionable loss. I’m almost always optimistic though 🙂

irish_bandit_10
irish_bandit_10

I moved to Indiana in 1995, but was too young to really understand football until 1998 or so. All I’ve known is pain and heartbreak, so I’m usually quite pessimistic about the Irish. I convince myself to think they’ll lose every game until the clock actually hits 0, so I won’t be AS upset when they get beat by lesser opponents. Yet I still look at the schedule just about every year and go “hmmm, I see 9 or 10 wins this season,” only to be let down.

MDIRISH
MDIRISH

Of our opponents, only USC and Stanford have a higher preseason S&P+ than Notre Dame. It’s not unreasonable to predict 9 or 10 wins. I think it’s just the fear or being let down that you describe.

Clearwall
Clearwall

Hey if anyone has an inside track on some game tickets, I’m looking to go up for USC. If you have contacts, could you send me an email?

Brendan R

Pretty brutal downvote. Can’t win em all, Clearwall…

Clearwall
Clearwall

Lol, I guess it’s a sin to ask on here?

Brendan R

Since we’re such a Pollyanna bunch here, I’ll just assume somebody meant to give you a thumbs up and missed. All is well!

juicebox
juicebox

I gave thumbs up, but my thumbs up is towards the thumbs down vote. Really made me chuckle.