it’s been nearly three days since the Brian Kelly era received its first blemish, and we can now officially say that the Notre Dame football season starts. Gone is the unbridled optimism, the belief that maybe the Irish will actually win -- quite literally -- now.
That’s not to say that this football season is sunk or the lofty aspirations the Irish had for the season are gone. But for the first time since Kelly’s opening press conference, there’s plenty of aggravation out there if you’re looking for it, on message boards, websites, talking heads, and sports-talk radio. Is Kelly surprised that many people think the sky is falling?
“I’m not surprised by it at all,” Kelly said. “There will be plenty of room on the bandwagon when we start winning, too. Those are the expectations that you’re going to have each and every day. I don’t spend much time dwelling on that, other than we have to play the game better. That’s what my focus is on.”
The blame game was pretty prevalent this week, with the usual suspects that have been surrounding this program for the past five years rearing their ugly heads. A defense that couldn’t get a stop or a turnover when they really needed it. The miserable luck of losing the one irreplaceable player on the team after the game’s opening drive. A questionable coaching decision to go for a touchdown instead of a chip-shot field goal. That’s football, folks.
Brian Kelly and the Irish say they’ve turned the page, now it’ll be up to the Notre Dame faithful to prove they’ve done the same. And while the Nate Montana pass that sailed out of bounds might still eat at those Irish fans that are plagued by the clarity of hindsight, it’s nothing that’s weighing Brian Kelly down.
“I never gave it a thought to kick the field goal,” Kelly said this afternoon. “Maybe that’s my problem. If there was hindsight 20/20, I would’ve called a different play. Because that one didn’t work. Field goal or no field goal, that never entered my mind.”
This note from the NBC PR department:
Last Saturday’s Michigan-Notre Dame game was the most-watched Notre Dame game on NBC in five years, and the most watched rivalry game between the two teams in 16 years. It was the highest-rated game of two unranked teams in NBC’s history and the third-most watched Michigan-Notre Dame game ever.
The last time as many eyeballs tuned in for a football game on NBC was the classic 2005 battle between Charlie Weis’ Irish and Pete Carroll’s USC Trojans, where Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush escaped with a last-second victory.
(A victory that USC is no longer allowed to claim...)