"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
And now for something completely different...
Brian Kelly actually scores points in my book. He was asked about academics as they relate to his football team and gave this response:
I think we recognized that all of my football players are at risk. All of them, really. Honestly, I don't know that any of our players would get into the school by themselves right now, with the academic standards the way they are. Maybe one or two of our players that are on scholarship.
So, making sure that with the rigors that we put them in -- playing on the road, playing night games, getting home at 4 o'clock in the morning, all of the demands that we place on them relative to the academics, and going into an incredibly competitive academic classroom every day -- we recognize this is a different group.
And we have to provide all the resources necessary for them to succeed and don't force them into finding shortcuts.
I think we've clearly identified that we need to do better. And we're not afraid to look at any shortcomings that we do have and fix them.
I'm not a Brian Kelly fan at all. Dare I say that he handled this well? I think it was an honest and accurate assessment. Interesting that it mirrors what Mattison said to that recruit (forget which one) that got blown way out of proportion.
For all of the angst, heartache, and pain we've experienced under the current staff - I am SO glad our coaches don't routinely throw players under the bus.
Brian Kelly is a Douche. I would never want any kid of mine to play for this a$$hole. That is all.
Reporter: Brian, how can you, I know they're not all on Golson, especially the picks, but the fumbles, consistently-
Kelly: Why aren't they all on Golson?
Kelly interrupted to make sure Golson received the full blame for his turnovers before immediately backing down when reminded of what actually occurred (as well as things he previously said).
A couple of days ago I compiled Hoke's win-loss record, looking specifically at road v. home v. neutral site and the differences between the Vegas line and the actual win differential. I was curious, though -- and maybe this was prompted by a comment I saw somewhere -- how other successful coaches at our rivals had fared recently. That is, was Hoke's downward trend normal? Abnormal? Is there, in fact, a normal?
Here are the results (click to embiggen):
- Hoke is most like Meyer: a string of victories at the start with a slow (inevitable) decline, although Meyer was able to string together an amazing 24-0 start at Ohio State.
- Kelly and Dantonio are more similar: a difficult first year followed by a fairly consistent improvement in overall record.
- Rodriguez is a real outlier: he never really got about .500, so never showed the overall improvement that Kelly and Dantonio did.
Hoke's downward slide looks ominous. What if we look on the brighter side, however, and project a 9-3 season, with losses to Michigan State and Ohio State but victories against the rest of the schedule? We get something like this (I'm not projecting the other coaches' records here):
That looks significantly better: essentially Hoke would be neck-and-neck with Kelly at the end of his year four, with a better overall record than Danotio's first four years. That's not bad.
Even if we project an 8-4 season this year -- say we lose to Penn State under the lights -- the overall record ain't too shabby:
The question, then, may be: is Hoke better than a .700 career coach? The difference between .700 and .750 is pretty palpable. Lloyd's career record was .753, Moeller's was .758, Bo's was .796 (at Michigan only for the latter two coaches). The scene of college football is significantly different now than it was in the 1970s and 1980s, but it's probably fair to say that Michigan fans and alumni reasonably expect to win 3 out of every 4 games, even if we were never happy with Lloyd or Moeller's tendency to drop the occasional game to undermatched opponents (a loss at home to an unranked Illinois in 1993, my first year at Michigan, still stings a bit).
There's no doubt that the end of last year and this year is a bit of a trough for Michigan football: we're rebuliding, not reloading, despite the addition of Peppers. At least that has to be the positive take, anyway; the negative take would be that in the coming years the slide continues, and Hoke's line on the graph above will cross Dantonio's in 2015.
My overall take is more positive than I thought it would be when I started: if Hoke can hold serve this year with a 9-3 record and continue to bring in top talent, then there is a good case to be made that things will rebound. If those things happen, then on paper Hoke and Kelly look awfully similar, and I think that we probably think that whatever Kelly's many faults, he's got Notre Dame football on the right track in terms of the on-the-field performance.
Yet as I type those sentences about Michigan they seem awfully optimistic... far more optimistic than I currently feel.
EDIT: Per the suggestion by LandonC in the comments below, here is Hoke's ten
year game rolling win percentage vs. Kelly's, Dantonio's, and RR's:
ND's Outside Receivers Coach appears to the be the new OC for ND. No QB coach yet but it will be an outsider per BK....BOOOOOOORGES
Notre Dame offensive linemen Zack Martin and Chris Watt recall Under the Lights I with irishillustrated.com, ranking the experience above some other notable away games:
"According to Martin and Watt, nothing last season - not Oklahoma under the lights or USC at the Coliseum - stood up to the Big House two seasons ago. It’s likely no stadium moving forward will, either."
I hope this year's game is two times as loud and leaves them with an everlasting impression of the big house. Go blue and beat ND!