Redskins

Column: Is ND's Kelly latest rent-a-coach?

201301072008725264485-p2.jpeg

Column: Is ND's Kelly latest rent-a-coach?

Coaches bailing out on their teams is nothing new. Neither is saying one thing and doing the opposite. It's practically an occupational hazard.

In the past few weeks, more than a half-dozen pulled that surprise on their teams between the end of the regular season and before the bowl game that was supposed to be their reward. In other sports, a few have departed right after winning a championship. Even so, Notre Dame's Brian Kelly may have taken insincerity to a new level.

Kelly apparently sat for an interview Tuesday with the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles. That was roughly a year after Notre Dame signed him to a two-year extension and promised to begin discussing a raise and yet another extension. And just four days after Kelly called his ``the best job in the country'' and added, ``Leaving is not an option. I don't even think about it.''

Now fast forward to the early hours of Tuesday morning, moments after Alabama crushed Notre Dame 42-14 in the BCS championship game, and an exchange between Kelly and a reporter in the interview room. The questioner asked Kelly ``how optimistic'' he was about making big strides in the Irish passing game, since both sophomore receiver DaVaris Daniels and freshman quarterback Everett Golson were coming back with plenty of valuable experience under their belts.

Kelly pretended to panic.

He began his answer, ``Well, if Everett would come back for another year,'' and then turned to face Golson. For a second, it was hard to tell whether Kelly was still acting.

``Are you coming back?'' he asked.

``Yeah,'' Golson said after a brief silence, playing along. ``I'm coming back.''

Kelly's role as a straight man doesn't seem quite as funny today as it did at the moment. Especially since he answered a handful of questions on either side of that routine with statements like ``now it's pretty clear what we need to do to get over the top'' and ``as we move forward'' and ``we're all going to learn'' and so on. Because just a few hours later, while talking to the Eagles, it's a safe bet that Kelly used the word ``I'' a lot more than he did ``we.''

Of course, Kelly is free to explore job opportunities, same as anybody else. He might genuinely be interested in testing his skills at the highest level of the game, or simply looking for leverage when he sits down soon after his vacation this week to talk about a new contract. Yet neither Kelly nor athletic director Jack Swarbrick needed reminding what happened after Notre Dame, responding to rumors that then-first year coach Charlie Weis was being contacted about a return to the NFL, doubled Weis' original five-year deal. But only one of them is interested in making sure the school doesn't make a mistake that expensive again.

To be fair, despite a sometimes-rocky start, Kelly has been good for Notre Dame. After cameras caught him browbeating players on the sideline, he promised to tone down his act and did. His initial response to allegations of sexual assault against one of his players, as well as the accidental death of a student videographer who was filming football practice in 2010 was callous - at best. But he's learned to better handle the responsibility that comes with Notre Dame's exalted place in the college game since.

Kelly has also made the Irish program seem relevant again, a perception that's been reinforced by a 2013 recruiting class rated among the top three in the nation.

Exactly why he chose to introduce a wrinkle into what looked like a comfortable relationship is something only Kelly can answer, and he took off on vacation before anyone had a chance to pose the question. Swarbrick, too, has declined comment since reports of Kelly's interview with the Eagles surfaced, but he knew his coach's reputation as a ``climber'' before he hired him. Kelly stuck around for 13 seasons in his first job, building Grand Valley State into a Division II powerhouse, but his stints at Central Michigan and Cincinnati lasted only three full seasons in both places.

That's hardly proof of a pattern, though something else Kelly said on the eve of the national championship game suggests it might be.

``When I took the job at Notre Dame, I think I said it was a dream job. But I never went around day to day saying anything about being the Notre Dame head coach, because the job that I had in hand was what I was thinking about.

``And I think,'' Kelly added, though it sounds a lot less reassuring now than it did at the time, ``that's the same thing with the NFL.''

---

Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jlitke(at)ap.org and follow him at Twitter.com/JimLitke.

Quick Links

The Kerrigans are having a baby and, WOW, this is all so very exciting

screen_shot_2018-10-16_at_5.55.43_pm.png
@kerrigan91

The Kerrigans are having a baby and, WOW, this is all so very exciting

The Kerrigan family is about to make a big-time addition to its roster.

Ryan and his wife, Jessica, already have two very, VERY, very, very cute bulldogs in their household. 

But on Tuesday, the two announced in separate Instagram posts that Jessica is 18 weeks pregnant and that a third human Kerrigan will arrive in 2019.

"Can I eat dis sign aftur da picturr iz over?" George the bulldog said when reached for comment on the news.

"How did dey gett such a smawl jerzey for da baby alreddy?" Franklin the other bulldog added.

This is all very wonderful.

Come next March, the world is about to get a little precious-er.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

Quick Links

The Caps are a bad faceoff team, here’s what they’re doing about it

capsfaceoff.png
USA Today Sports

The Caps are a bad faceoff team, here’s what they’re doing about it

Tuesday’s practice was a lot like every other for the Caps until the end. After working on the power play, the team gathered at one end of the ice and began working on faceoffs. It was not just the centers, but wingers and defensemen alike got into the action with every win celebrated by loud cheers from teammates.

It should could as no surprise to see faceoffs as a point of emphasis for Washington considering just how much the team has struggled with them in the early season. The Caps rank 30th in the league in faceoff win percentage at only 43.8-percent.

“Yeah, there's little details that can help our game,” Lars Eller told reporters after practice. “The more you have the puck, easier the game is gonna be for you. We have a little more time in between games than usual during the season here, so we have the time to work on something like that, which can be little things that makes the difference.”

The team as a whole watched video on faceoffs prior to practice and then worked as a five-man unit during the drill. The main point of emphasis head coach Todd Reirden wanted to drill into his players was that faceoffs are not simply the responsibility of the centers alone.

“The days of it just being center vs. center and a clean draw being won back are a rarity now so it's important to have all five guys helping, something we watched video on earlier today,” Reirden said.

“You ask any centerman if they have a good group of wingers that can help them out on draws, that makes a huge difference,” Nic Dowd said. “I've been lucky, I have [Devante Smith-Pelly] on my right and I'm a righty so I win all my draws my backhand side so a lot of pucks go his way and he wins a lot of draws for me. That's huge. You have a guy that's sitting over there that's sleeping, you could go easily from five wins to five losses and then that's your night. It makes a big difference.”

Faceoffs were always going to be more of a struggle for the Caps this season with the departure of Jay Beagle who was, by far, the team’s best faceoff man for several years. Whenever the team needed a big draw, Beagle was the player relied upon to win it. With him gone, it is no surprise to see the team struggle.

But the Caps don’t like the idea of keeping possession off a draw just 43.8-percent of the time.

“It's essentially like the ref is creating a 50-50 puck and you snap it back, you get possession, now you're forechecking and it makes a huge difference,” Dowd said. “You play against those top lines, they want to be in the O-zone. Well, if you lose the draw, now you're playing D-zone, you win the draw now you're playing O-zone. So effectively, you've shut down their shift.”

There is a school of thought suggesting that perhaps the importance of winning faceoffs is overrated and a team’s faceoff win percentage is not overly important. Eller himself admitted as much to reporters.

What no one can argue, however, is that while some faceoffs may not matter all that much, there are some that are hugely important in a game. The Caps recognize that. For them, being a strong faceoff team is not necessarily about improving the team’s win percentage, but more about being able to win those critical draws.

“It's something that for the most part the players understand and a neutral zone faceoff with 14 minutes to go in the first period is not nearly as important as one that's 5-on-6 at the end of the game,” Reirden said. “We all know that. It's important to put the right people on those situations and give them the best chance to have success.”

“A center ice draw, I could see where guys could make the argument, well you lose it you still will play hockey and stuff could still happen,” Dowd said. “But I think the game is such a possession game now that any opportunity you can win a 50-50 puck whether that's a faceoff or a board battle, it makes a huge difference.”

 

MORE CAPITALS NEWS: