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Irish Eyes are Smiling: Notre Dame Gets its Man

Well it did not take the University of Notre Dame long to move past the Charlie Weis era, and I don’t believe it was just a coincidence. There is an oldie but goodie that goes something like “no way to get over the last one like moving on to the next one.”

So who is the man desperate enough to take over in South Bend, Indiana? Brian Kelly, the man that took previously unknown University of Cincinnati to the #3 spot in this year’s final BCS poll. Maybe the Fighting Irish job was coveted more than some in the media thought. The news is sure to dominate the Indianapolis sports world for a good 24-hours, then it becomes Colts football time.

Excuse me for mixing sports metaphors, but the Irish landing Kelly is an absolute home run. Amidst years of speculation and media hype saying that Notre Dame football will never again return to the national prominence it held for over a century, this is as good of a come back as the Irish could have hoped for. When news of the hiring first hit Indianapolis, Irish alumni all over the Circle City were seen doing a jig.

Kelly will become the 29th head football coach in Univeristy of Notre Dame football’s 123 year history. Also, it would have been near impossible to find a hotter coach to take over right now. On the same night Brian Kelly was named Irish head coach, he was also named the national college coach of the year at ESPN’s College Football Awards banquet.

Although the move won’t be made official until Friday morning, ND athletic director Jack Swarbrick has already gone on the record saying “I am very pleased that a thorough and extensive search has led us to a new head coach in Brian Kelly, who I am confident will help us accomplish our goal of competing for national championships.”

While Kelly has had success everywhere he has been, some critics are already pointing to the fact that he is an offensive minded coach, and defense is what wins BCS National Championships. It was not all that long ago, say five years, when the Irish thought they had struck gold when bringing in the offensive genius Weis.

There is no love-loss in Cincinnati for Kelly at this point. Now, many former players for the Bearcats feel betrayed by Kelly’s early departure. Star receiver Mardy Gilyard said, “he went for the money. I’m fairly disgusted with the situation, that they let it last this long.” Kelly will take over his responsibilities at Notre Dame immediately, forgoing the opportunity to coach Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl against Florida University on January 1, 2010 at 8:30 pm.

In other Univeristy of Notre Dame football news, Fighting Irish ex-wide receiver Golden Tate was named the nation’s top pass catcher tonight when he was awarded the 2009 Fred Biletnikoff Award. With both Tate and quarterback Jimmy Clausen deciding to forgo their senior seasons, Kelly will have his hands full putting a competitive offensive product on the field next year.

Quick hits of Brian Kelly’s bio

• 34-6 in 3-plus seasons at Cincinnati
• 12 wins this season represent the most for a college head coach in the season before taking over at Notre Dame
• Two-time Big East Coach of the Year
• 19-16 in three seasons at Central Michigan
• Won two D-II championships at Grand Valley State
• Played linebacker at Assumption College (Mass.)