Updated 5pm Mon, 29 July, (12pm BST)
It was confirmed that Alabama offensive line coach Mario Cristobal would replace Brian Kelly as Notre Dame’s head coach. Notre Dame’s principal partner at the news conference was former Irish quarterback, now South Bend Sports Commission president, Doug Brown. Brown noted that South Bend residents should keep their rates low because “I guarantee it’s a factor” in the football coaching job.
Cristobal said he hopes to bring more of “the Notre Dame standard” to the Irish program: “(I want to build) a program of football first, academics second”.
Kelly was quoted as saying, “It’s been an amazing seven years I’ve been at Notre Dame. This has been a dream job, the highest of our accomplishments as a university. I’m truly blessed to have gotten to know some of the best people I’ve ever met. ” It’s not been easy and it’s not going to be easy.”
Alabama, the Alabama football dynasty, was delighted that their old coach had accepted a college head coaching job: “We want to wish Coach Kelly the best of luck as he embarks on his new career.”
Notre Dame had to endure a season of disappointment, but still ended it with a 34-20 bowl win over Alabama. The odds are stacked against this Irish team’s achieving their goal of reclaiming their national title from a year ago. Some of the Irish’s best players like LB Nyles Morgan are gone from last year’s team. Five of last year’s starting defensive linemen are returning next season, including guys who can be projected as two star candidates at defensive end such as Mitch Hyatt.
Kelly, who played at Notre Dame himself, was lured away from Notre Dame by a multi-million dollar contract with LSU. Kelly leaves with the program on a high note. The Irish’s football team was ranked eighth in the country last season with a 12-0 record and an SEC championship. Notre Dame failed to even beat one of the four BCS bowl teams last season, and still finished ranked 10th in the country.
Notre Dame’s productivity on offense was not all Kelly’s fault. The Irish committed a significant amount of penalties, both personal and on offense, including a number of holding calls. The Irish also ended the season with a lackluster offense with record-setting quarterback Everett Golson in the lineup. The run game to start last season was anemic until the Irish redshirted Stanford-bound QB Malik Zaire, with the hope that he could become a more effective passer. Notre Dame finished third in the conference in rushing yards per game, but allowed 62 points against Temple in a nationally televised game, when Ohio State got revenge on Irish QB Malik Zaire for their Week 1 loss last season.
Notre Dame, a private Catholic school, has a strong history of football success. The Irish football team has made a bowl game in every season since it went 4-6-1 in 1961. During that stretch, the Irish have been known for a combination of great defensive teams like the ’72 team led by Lenny Moore and Bill George and offense from Mike Brey’s offensive teams. Since Brian Kelly arrived at Notre Dame, the Irish football team has been nearly as strong defensively as it has been offensively.
Take a look at Notre Dame’s quarterbacks past and present: