Brian Kelly Is College Football's Fifth Best Coach
Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly is the fifth best head coach in all of college football, so says the college football writers at CBS Sports.
"Think about the storied history of Notre Dame football. You know the names of Knute Rockne, Ara Parseghian and Lou Holtz, but did you realize how close Kelly was to having more wins with the Irish than any of them? Now, officially, he's not close. The NCAA vacated Notre Dame's wins in 2012 and 2013, but in the world where we don't pretend those games didn't happen, and that Notre Dame didn't win them, Kelly has 92 wins in South Bend. That's 13 fewer than Rockne's 105, which means there's a good chance Kelly will pass Rockne during the 2021 season. He took over a program that found itself on the brink of becoming a historical relic and has restored the shine to the golden dome."
Kelly is up two spots after last season's 11-2 finish. Notre Dame is 33-6 over the last three seasons.
Three of the four coaches ahead of Kelly have won national titles. Kelly ranked ahead of Georgia's Kirby Smart, who has led the Bulldogs to a 36-7 record over the last three seasons. Of course, Smart and Georgia handed Notre Dame two of its six losses in the last three seasons.
The Case For Kelly:
Kelly inherited a dramatically different program than the other all-time greats. Rockne took over a Notre Dame program that was in its infancy stage, but the Irish were 34-5-1 in the five years prior to his arrival.
Holtz took over a Notre Dame program that was trending down, but the Irish were still less than a decade removed from its last national title.
Kelly took over a program that hadn't won a national title in over 20 years. Only Parseghian (14 years) can really match that.
What adds to Kelly's value as a coach is not just his success at Notre Dame, but it's what he did at previous stops. Kelly has also not only had success on the field at Notre Dame, he's also had a key role in bringing Notre Dame into the modern world of college football from a facilities standpoint as well.
The Case Against Kelly:
Kelly being close to Holtz, Parseghian and Rockne in career wins isn't the best argument for Kelly. None of those coaches had seasons in which they consistently coached 13 games in a season.
Kelly has coached in six more games than Rockne but trails him by 13 wins. He's coached in 12 more games than Parseghian but has three fewer wins. Holtz leads Kelly by eight wins but coached in just four more games.
Rockne (.881), Parseghian (.836) and Holtz (.765) all have significantly higher win percentages than Kelly (.719).
There is another thing those three coaches have in common that Kelly does not, and that is a national championship. I'm not as familiar with the strength of schedule of Rockne and Parseghian, but Holtz's Notre Dame squads played a significantly tougher schedule than did Kelly's.
So Notre Dame fans, what say you? Let me know in the comments section below.
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