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Kelly won't take bait on home atmosphere

9/4/2012

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Hey, it was worth a shot.

Back home after a 3,500-plus mile trip to Dublin, coach Brian Kelly was asked Tuesday about how Notre Dame could make its home-game atmosphere more intimidating for visiting teams.

He's happy worrying about his football team, thank you very much.

"No way. No way," Kelly cut off the question with a smile. "I went to a Catholic school with the nuns that had the rulers, OK? I'm not going to get hit with a ruler again. I think it's up to me to provide a better atmosphere in that stadium. We win games, it will be nice and loud. Thank you, nice try."

Kelly had said during an Aug. 2 radio interview that FieldTurf was coming to Notre Dame Stadium. He clarified that statement the next day at a press conference, saying that he "hopes" it comes.

The Irish have won no more than four games inside Notre Dame Stadium in each of the past five years and are just 17-16 in front of their home crowd since 2007. They kick off this season's home slate Saturday with Purdue.

Athletic director Jack Swarbrick said during media day that he wants Notre Dame to be the most welcoming environment in the country. But he joked that other ADs who have walked away victorious frequently tell him that that's the case, illustrating the balancing act Notre Dame's administration has to perform.

The two main points of contention with Notre Dame home games have been around the possibility of a giant video screen and FieldTurf, the latter of which could, in theory, come as soon as next season. The current Notre Dame Stadium playing surface will be removed following this season, as it is every five years.

"I haven't made a decision," Swarbrick said Aug. 16. "The reasons to do it relate to the use of the stadium. We do commencement in here. We'd like to do an alumni function in here during the summer. I'd love for our team to be able to practice in here on Fridays. So you balance those things against the environment of natural turf, which feels sort of central to this place. That's not an easy balance. We haven't made it yet, but those are factors we'll think about."