Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

October 24, 2012

3rd year's the charm for successful Irish coaches

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The old saying goes that the third time's the charm. At Notre Dame, historically the third time's been the national championship. Or else.

Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian, Dan Devine and Lou Holtz all won their first national championships in their third seasons as coach of the Fighting Irish, while Knute Rockne finished his second straight undefeated season. The combined record of the five in their third season: 50-2-1.

Coach Brian Kelly has the unbeaten Fighting Irish in the national championship discussion in his third season with their best start in a decade at 7-0 and a big game Saturday at eighth-ranked Oklahoma (5-1). So is it coincidence that successful coaches at Notre Dame have won titles in Year 3, or is three years how long it takes a successful coach to get his players in place and put his imprint on Notre Dame?

"Maybe it's a combination of both," Parseghian said. "It could be a coincidence. But I think it reflects on your recruiting capabilities and abilities and recognizing what you need after your first year there and then being able to fill those. I think Brian Kelly has done that masterfully."

For the other six men who have coached Notre Dame in the post Leahy era and haven't won a national championship, the third season was the beginning of the end. They posted a combined record of 28-39. Terry Brennan, Bob Davie and Charlie Weis all had their first losing records, while Tyrone Willingham went 6-5 and was fired.

All were gone after five seasons or sooner.

Parseghian said he's not surprised by Kelly's success this season.

"He's been a winner everywhere he's been," he said.

Kelly, who has one losing season in 22 years as head coach, has a history of getting things done in third seasons since moving up to Division I after winning a pair of Division II national championships at Grand Valley State. In his third season at Central Michigan he led the Chippewas to their first Mid-American Conference title in 12 years. In his third season at Cincinnati he led the Bearcats to their second straight Big East title and their second straight Bowl Championship Series berth, narrowly missing out on the national championship game with a 12-0 record.

Kelly said he hasn't given much thought to the history of Notre Dame coaches winning national championships in three seasons. But Kelly, who said at his introduction that he had a five-minute plan for turning things around, knows Notre Dame fans are impatient.

"Three years is pushing it in today's society. So I would say that today you better get the thing moving in three years, because there's not a lot of patience out there. But we're on schedule for everything that we need to do and our program to continue to win," he said.

Kelly started the process when he arrived at South Bend by trying to change the mindset of the team, working to make them mentally and physical tougher, and by trying to cut down on mistakes, such as turnovers. He said the first step in winning is to stop losing.

"There are so many things that you have to eradicate first before you can even get to that level of talking about a championship mentality," Kelly said. "You have to be able to make sure that you've patched all the areas where the air is coming out of the tire, so to speak."

Kelly, who arrived at Notre Dame touted as an offensive-minded coach, is doing it in South Bend with defense. Led by linebacker Manti Te'o, the Irish are sixth in the nation in total defense, giving up 281 yards a game. The Irish haven't finished a season rated in the top 10 defensively in three decades. Kelly said he knew at Notre Dame he didn't want to be as reliant on offense as he had in the past.

"I felt the best blueprint that we could put together for a national championship here was through our defense," he said.

The Irish are 10.5-point underdogs against the Sooners, largely because of questions about their offense, which is ranked 74th nationally.

A win against the Sooners and the Irish will be favored to make it to their season-finale against No. 10 Southern California (6-1) undefeated.

But Kelly is looking at beyond his third season. He looks at what Bob Stoops has done at Oklahoma and seeks to emulate it. Stoops has posted 10 10-win seasons at Oklahoma and led the Sooners to 13 straight bowl games, including eight BCS games. Stoops has a record of 144-35 and is 79-4 at home.

"That's where we want to be. I mean, we want that consistency. Year in and year out you know Oklahoma is going to be part of the conversation," Kelly said. "And that's where we want to get our football program. We're nowhere near that yet. We think we're moving in the right direction. We're trending the right way."

At Notre Dame, that's essential in a coach's third season.

1
Text Only
Sports
  • McMillan-blackboard.jpg Hometown brothers team up for RiverHawks football

    Northeastern State’s football program will include a pair of hometown brothers for the 2014 season.
    Mason McMillan returns for his sophomore season, and this year he will be reunited with his younger brother, Kourtland. The brothers graduated from Tahlequah High School – Mason in 2013, followed by Kourtland in 2014. At Tahlequah, Mason and Kourtland shared the gridiron for one season.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Yurcich ready for second season

    With the 2014 season on the brink, Mike Yurcich, Oklahoma State University football offensive coordinator, is ready for his second year at the helm after coaching a powerful offensive squad a year ago.

    July 28, 2014

  • James_Ethan-(12)-vs.#2CC63C.jpg Back on the line

    RiverHawks’ Ethan James returns to the line healthy and ready for 2014

    RiverHawks offensive lineman Ethan James will enter the 2014 season healthy – something the team, and James, were not in 2013.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • Sooners shifting several positions

    Experience comes from encountering the same things in the same ways over and over again. Oklahoma’s Geneo Grissom and Julian Wilson have that at defensive end and nickleback in bunches.
    However, both will be seeing new things when practice begins. Grissom is moving to outside linebacker. Wilson will be getting a look at cornerback as his senior season begins

    July 25, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Better police needed for college teams enticed to cheat

    The NCAA once cracked down on colleges that went too far luring top prospects, then it targeted teams that lathered players with special treatment. That was until the NCAA's get-tough approach backfired, rendering it ineffective and creating an opportunity for those who want to play dirty.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • BobBowlsby.jpg Media Week: Change is coming

    Changes are coming to college athletics.
    That was the theme of the state of the conference speech by Big 12 Conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby on the first day of Big 12 Football Media Days.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Peterson.jpg Cowboy quandary: OSU defense trying to replace seven starters

    A year after the best defensive team in the Mike Gundy era, the questions now surround how those few returning starters and second-year defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer can maintain that high level of efficiency.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Really one true champion?

    I decided to spare the colleagues in front of me – and myself from making a scene – by holding back flipping my table at the Big 12 Conference Football Media Days in Dallas.
    I had become exhausted by the constant use and misrepresentation by the Big 12 with their moniker of “One True Champion.” If they are going to live with the slogan, then they need to abide by that slogan.
    Perhaps its a simple case that they are keeping constant with the poor math of the 10-team Big 12 Conference.

    July 23, 2014

  • Hill expected to be used in multiple facets

    The picture became a little clearer recently of how Big 12 Conference Newcomer of the Year Tyreek Hill will be utilized in the Oklahoma State offense.
    And the picture is rather wide.

    July 23, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Expectations too high for a rehabbing Woods

    Tiger Woods finished near bottom last weekend at Royal Liverpool, drawing out his drought of major tournament wins. Despite the disappointing showing, Woods' return to form remains a matter of when, not if.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

Do you believe school administrators and college presidents in Oklahoma are paid too much?

Strongly agree.
Somewhat agree.
Somewhat disagree.
Strongly disagree.
Undecided.
     View Results
Press Sports Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Stocks