Notre Dame football: Kelly vows to dial down his demeanor
On Thursday evening, Notre Dame second-year head football Brian Kelly pledged that he’ll still bring the fire on game day - it just might look a little different in the future.
Kelly’s combustible sideline behavior in Saturday’s 23-20 season-opening loss to South Florida sparked a nationwide debate that kept gurgling and picking up speed as it made the sports talk radio and social media circuits.
“I have a responsibility, as the head coach, to make sure that we leave with wins, first and foremost, and that we don’t open ourselves up to criticism,” said Kelly, whose Irish (0-1) visit Michigan (1-0) Saturday for the first prime-time night game in Michigan Stadium history.
“I think I’ve got to do a better job of managing my emotions on the sidelines, so that I don’t become a side story. I mean that’s the last thing that we want.
“Some (criticism) is warranted, some of it’s overblown - all those things. But at the end of the day, you’ve got to win games and we’ve got to make sure that we don’t have the additional stories that pop up when you’re the head coach at Notre Dame.”
Kelly, in his 21st season as a head coach overall, has been demonstrative on the sidelines from the start of his career. But Grand Valley State, Central Michigan and Cincinnati didn’t coax it into the bright lights very often.
Never has he felt like a potential distraction - until now.
Kelly said he doesn’t feel the need to compromise his style, just perhaps frame it differently.
“I can do a better job,” he said. “I can get my point across. I just don’t have to do it quite so publicly. Now that I know how this affects a lot of people, we’ll make sure we’ll keep a lower profile when it comes to those things.
“Look, if I sit down one of those players on the bench, the only people who will know is those people in the gold seats. NBC and the whole world won’t. I just have to do a better job.”
Kelly announced after Thursday’s practice that sophomore backup tight end Alex Welch will miss the Michigan game because of a foot infection.
“He had to have surgery on it -- he had an abscess in his foot,” Kelly said. “(He’ll be out) probably 10 days. There’s nobody else that can’t answer the bell.”
That includes starting wide receiver TJ Jones, who was nursing shoulder and ankle injuries after the South Florida game.
“He took all of the first-team reps this week,” Kelly said.
-- Former starting quarterback Dayne Crist, Kelly confirmed, is definitely the first option off the bench should new starter Tommy Rees suffer an injury Saturday night.