Skip to main content

Four Notre Dame Players Recorded a Podcast Right After Brian Kelly News Broke

Four Notre Dame football players—Kyle Hamilton, Cam Hart, Conor Ratigan and KJ Wallace—launched the Inside The Garage podcast on Colin Cowherd's "The Volume" network earlier this year. Last night, just as details of Brian Kelly's departure for LSU were coming out, they recorded an "emergency" edition of the show to give their reactions.

While plenty of people around the Notre Dame program are not thrilled with Kelly's abrupt departure, which comes with the Fighting Irish still on the fringes of the College Football Playoff picture, the players seem more understanding about the situation.

“It’s part of the business," Hart said. "I think the worst part is just the timing of it all. And that’s just why people are reacting the way they are. I feel like if this was at the end of a bowl game or at the end of a championship, rather . . . if we won a championship it wouldn’t get the reaction that we’re personally getting."

A major theme of the episode, and the one they recorded just hours before they knew their head coach would be heading South, is that players should be committing to programs rather than coaches.

All four players seemed in agreement on that, and aren't worried about the impact on Notre Dame football long term.

“Literally on the podcast we recorded two hours ago, three hours ago, whenever, I literally said that recruits shouldn’t be committing to a school because of the coach," Hart continued. "I’m getting all these texts and calls, like, ‘Yo, Are you okay? Come to my school, come to this school.’ One of my boys [said], ‘Come to Jackson State.’ Like, no bro, I’m fine, I didn’t come here for Coach Kelly. Like, respect for Coach Kelly, I have nothing but respect for the man, he’s helped me along the way, but I came here because of Notre Dame.”

Hamilton agreed, making a similar point later in the podcast:

“A lot of people have been saying this is going to kill ND’s recruiting. If it does, then honestly I think that it’s for the better," Hamilton said. "No offense to Coach Kelly, but I know what the school can offer me, I know what the people can offer me, and I know what the football, obviously, can offer me. The football’s not going anywhere. Everybody’s acting like the program is in shambles. We’re still going to be here, we’re in the Playoff hunt. We’ll see what happens with that. But if you’re committing to Notre Dame you’re committing to Notre Dame. You came here for a plethora of reasons, and one of those being football for sure, but there are so many other things that go into the school, that a coach leaving, no matter how good or bad he is, shouldn’t affect your decision.”

Hamilton says the worst part of the situation is the manner in which the news came out. He says that he holds the media more responsible than Kelly for the news breaking before he could tell his players. 

“I think Coach Kelly has it the worst right now," Hamilton said. "He’s invested so much into his team, and every is saying stuff to his team except for him. He can’t say what he wants to say."

Unsurprisingly, the Notre Dame players like a pair of internal candidates to replace Kelly. Defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman, who is in his first year with the Fighting Irish after stints at Purdue and Cincinnati, is considered a rising star in the coaching ranks. It is unclear whether he'll get a chance moving forward, but all four players threw their support behind him. Ratigan also mentioned offensive coordinator Tommy Rees as an option.

SI Recommends

“I’ll put my vote out there for Marcus Freeman," Hamilton said. "Since he’s come in here it feels like we’ve known him for years. He’s even keel, he’s the same guy every single day. He’s a great leader, knows when to get on you, knows when to cheer you up. He has a great sense of how we’re feeling. He’s a realist in the way he talks to us as a defense."

“Freeman and Rees both being new coordinators . . . you can see automatically their connection with the players, their connection with the coaching staff, and everyone around them, the support staff," Hart said. "It's like night and day, it's like, automatic. We couldn’t go wrong with either of those coaches."

Based on comments from athletic director Jack Swarbrick today, it is unclear whether Freeman is a real candidate for the job. He says that Notre Dame has not selected an interim coach, and may not go with that traditional route. If there is an interim, however, that person will not be a full-time head coaching candidate.

Hamilton also addressed the light trolling he did on Monday night. As the news came down, the lifelong LSU fan posted a picture from the 2007 Sugar Bowl, where the Tigers dominated the Irish 41–14. 

He knew the picture would prompt a wave of transfer rumors, and he made sure to shoot those down.

“I’m not transferring to LSU. I am an LSU fan, I still root for LSU unless they’re going against Notre Dame. So go Tigers, I hope Coach Kelly does well there until they run into the Irish," Hamilton said. "We are 2–0 against them in bowl games, so we kinda got their number. 

"For Coach Kelly, I think it’s going to be a big shift for him, having to play in a conference year-in-year-out, playing the same teams. Different types of teams, different philosophies, whole different culture. That has to be daunting. I bet he’s coming into the first meeting like ‘Damn, I don’t know any of these kids, and they expect me to help change their lives and help change their families’ lives.’ And that’s, honestly respect to him for feeling like he has the ability to do that, and I think he does, honestly. He’s created such a culture here and I think he can do it anywhere else."

LSU made the Kelly hire official on Tuesday morning. 

“I could not be more excited to join a program with the commitment to excellence, rich traditions, and unrivaled pride and passion of LSU Football,” Kelly said. “I am fully committed to recruiting, developing, and graduating elite student-athletes, winning championships, and working together with our administration to make Louisiana proud."

More College Football Coverage:

For more news on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, head over to Irish Breakdown.