Discussion

For Notre Dame, it's all about patience

Look at Brian Kelly's track record closely; it's never about the first year

Originally Published: September 30, 2010
By Bill Connelly | Football Outsiders

To draw a major conclusion about a college football coaching hire when it's made is a lot like betting on horses. Sure, you have elements to go on -- recent success, record on grass or dirt, etc. -- but there is too much luck and random chance involved to be right too often.

That said, Brian Kelly becoming the new head coach of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish this past winter looked to be as close to a slam dunk as possible. Kelly had previous success at a BCS-level school, which is one of the surest predictors of future success; coaches with previous BCS success tend to improve their new teams by about 5 percent (according to Football Outsiders' S&P+ measure) within the first two years. Plus, Notre Dame looked to be underachieving just enough with the talent on hand that a new coach might be able to engineer a rather quick turnaround.

Kelly is four games in. Although there is clear statistical improvement, the team is 1-3 and has lost close games to the Michigan Wolverines and Michigan State Spartans, two major Midwestern rivals. It all leads to two questions: Are the Irish really getting better? And is there hope for the future?

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