I, for one, totally buy into this type of stuff. My initial reaction (after reading the article) is that ND will be a vastly improved program solely based on the WAY Kelly is doing things (and the "tone" he's setting).
(PS...This is simply my observation of ND after reading the article. I am not trying to correlate anything that's going on in South Bend with what we have going on here in A2.)
Tom Coyne / Associated Press
South Bend, Ind. --The morning before spring break at Notre Dame, the football team got a 5 a.m. wake-up call from coach Brian Kelly. It was time to start.
The Fighting Irish players gathered at a practice field surrounded by snow and began what the new coach affectionately calls Camp Kelly. Players won't say exactly what went on during the 90-minute workout, except that there were no footballs or football drills involved. Mostly it was intense, team-building exercises and an eye-opening signal to players that Kelly wants to change the atmosphere at Notre Dame -- breathing new life into a once-elite program that's struggled through a series of mediocre coaching tenures.
Kelly is aiming to put Notre Dame first, in the minds of its players and in the polls. He wants to persuade the Irish to start worrying more about their teammates than where they'll be drafted. Gone are the days of Charlie Weis, with his ostentatious Super Bowl rings and talk of how Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady did things. Gone are the two-hour daily meetings and the walkthroughs at practices. Gone is the NFL approach.
Kelly, who spent 13 years coaching Division II Grand Valley State in western Michigan, wants the Irish giving it the old college try. That means a team first attitude. That means uptempo practices and a focus on ending a national championship drought that stretches back to 1988.
"I want to hear about Notre Dame. I want to hear about restoring the glory to a university that has a great tradition," Kelly said. "What I want them talking about is, 'It's me that gets that first national championship,' not 'I want to be the No. 1 draft pick.' That's what we're reshaping."
Kelly is not only transforming Notre Dame's offensive and defensive schemes, but everything from how the Irish practice, to how they eat, to how they spend their free time. The goal, as Kelly describes it, is to "get the fight back in the Fighting Irish."
The most obvious difference under Kelly is the practices. Everything is done at a frenetic pace. Even stretching is done uptempo, with players leaping while running back and forth. Scrimmages are chaotic, often with several coaches yelling out at the same time in the same area.
"We're trying to create an atmosphere that is difficult for them in the practice. I believe if you can get through practice, you're going to be prepared for Saturday," Kelly said.
One way the coaches measure how players are doing is to grade each play to see if any players are loafing. One of the team's top players already has 20 loafs, Kelly said.
"Now that's not because he wants to loaf. It's just the expectation of what we want him to do for that entire play is so different from what he was allowed to do in the past," Kelly said. "We're trying to set a new standard and demanding something different."
Kelly believes he is responsible for developing players in five areas: skill on the field, physically, intellectually, socially and spiritually.
Irish coaches teach football skills at practice. The physical improvements come through things like Camp Kelly, offseason workouts and the first training table at Notre Dame since Lou Holtz was there. Players eat dinner together Monday through Friday, a practice Weis tried to reinstate when he was coach.
Athletic director Jack Swarbrick said the need to make sure players were eating right, instead of letting them eat at dining halls, became apparent when players, especially linemen, had trouble keeping weight on. The Irish were just 3-10 in November the past three seasons.
"It's tough for you to be in great form in the last third of the season if you haven't maintained weight," Swarbrick said.
Kelly's also given the players what he calls the Irish creed, covenant and commandments, which basically outlines how he expects them to act on and off the field.
When Kelly arrived on campus he was appalled to see how disheveled the locker room was, how players were sleeping in the players' lounge, which had pillows and sleeping bags strewn about, and how players were parking illegally next to the football offices.
One of the first things Kelly did was put a sign in the locker room diagramming how he wanted players to store their equipment in lockers. He then posted a sign warning that illegally parked cars would be towed. He then changed the players lounge into a game room, complete with pool table, ping pong table, air hockey table and other games. The idea, Kelly said, was to build camaraderie.
"It's just like at the student union. You have a break in your classes it's a chance to blow off some steam, relax a little bit and get a chance to build relationships with coaches and players," Kelly said.
He also doesn't allow players to wear hats or earrings in any team meetings, practices or football-related buildings. They also aren't allowed to take their helmets off at practice.
"When you're here, you're here to play football and you do it with a helmet," he said.
He also wants to build the team spiritually, an area where he said the team was lacking. Players have begun having Bible readings on Thursday night. He also is encouraging players to perform community service.
"We need to be thinking about others," he said.
Kelly has made other changes. He has been making the rounds on campus, including at various sporting events. While Weis would attend basketball games, he would generally sit in his seat and leave quickly afterward. Kelly walks around at halftime shaking hands and talking to people. He even did an Irish jig at halftime of a women's game.
The mood at the football offices are different, also. Visitors used to have to get through two locked doors to get to the coaches offices. During a recent spring day the doors were not only unlocked but wide open. Kelly said he wants others on campus to feel welcome.
He also has shortened the amount of time players spend on football by 75 minutes. Because players eat and study in the building housing the football offices, players' essentially spend two hours less a day on football.
"I thought their day was too long for a college football player. It got close to being a job, and I don't want it being a job," Kelly said.
The goal of it all is to get the Irish back to focusing on winning that next national championship.
"I would hope that every player we recruit to the University of Notre Dame has the dream still in heart that he's going to play in the NFL," Kelly said. "Having said that, I hope he chooses Notre Dame because he wants to be at Notre Dame. Not because it's a launching point for his NFL career."
From The Detroit News: http://www.detnews.com/article/20100416/SPORTS0201/4160423/1462/SPORTS/K...