Different Attitude in South Bend

Brian-Hanley Brian Hanley
I was born in 1960 on the westside of Chicago at the venerable St....
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It seems Las Vegas oddsmakers and the betting public have more faith in Notre Dame than does Irish coach Brian Kelly.

Exhibit A: ND, now 0-2 after being favored in its first two games, is a five-point favorite over No. 15 Michigan State (2-0) at South Bend Saturday.

Kelly, however, is no longer talking in BCS bowl terms this season. The ND coach seemingly tried to lower the sights of the Irish faithful following the team’s inexcusable, last-minute loss at Michigan.

“We’re shaping our team every single day,” Kelly told media after the 35-31 defeat, a game in which ND allowed 28 fourth-quarter points. “All you guys care about and our fans (care about is) that it equals wins, and we’re not doing that for them.

“I understand the frustration. But we’re building it the right way. We’ll get them there. We’re not there yet. I know this journey all too well. I’ve been on it before. It’s frustrating. It’s disappointing. It’s all those things. We’ll break through. There are too many good things happening out there for us not to break through.”

Notre Dame’s offense is averaging 510.5 yards per game. The Irish, however, is last nationally with 10 turnovers and the team’s 8.5 penalties per game is 103rd out of 120 teams.

Still, ND nation doesn’t want to follow Kelly on his newly-proclaimed “journey.”  Afterall, Irish fans are interested in having their team likened to a rebuilding program ala Cincinnati or Central Michigan.

“I had challenges in all the schools I’ve been at in terms of getting the team over,” Kelly said. “And there are inherent challenges here. But we’ll get through those as well.

“I understand we’ve got to win. Our players want to win. We’ve got the chance to be a good team. We can’t be a good team until we take care of the little things that are cropping up. It’s pretty clear that until we get those things taken care of on Saturdays, we’ll be a mediocre football team.”

With those words, Kelly, whose bravado has so far bested his leadership, just started the clock on ND’s next coach search.

Hope you join Mully and me talking Bears and all things Chicago sports Thursday from 5 a.m. until 9 a.m.

As always, thanks for listening.

–Hanley