Kelly won’t use history to motivate Notre Dame
The similarities between Notre Dame this season and the Fighting
Irish squad from a decade ago are uncanny enough that it might make
some fans a bit uncomfortable heading into Saturday’s game against
A decade ago, a Notre Dame team that started the season unranked
persuaded many college football fans it was for real when it won at
then-No. 11 Florida State to improve to 8-0 and rise to a No. 4
ranking. That team was a 10-point underdog when it beat the
Seminoles in the eighth game by breaking a second-half tie by
scoring 24 straight points to drop Florida State to 84-5-1 in its
previous 90 home games.
This year’s team has many fans believing it is real after
starting the season unranked and winning at then-No. 8 Oklahoma to
improve to 8-0 and rise to a No. 4 ranking. The Irish were 10-point
underdogs when they beat the Sooners in the eighth game by breaking
a second-half tie by scoring 17 straight points to drop Oklahoma to
79-5 in its last 84 home games.
Following that 2002 win, Notre Dame appeared to have an easy
path to a BCS. This time, the Irish again appear to have an easy
path to a BCS game with a three-game stretch against Pittsburgh
(4-4), Boston College (2-6) and Wake Forest (4-4) before the season
finale at Southern California (6-2).
As any Irish fan can tell you, the ninth game of the 2002 season
was the beginning of the end for then-first-year coach Tyrone
The Irish were favored by 10 points, but turned the ball over
seven times while wearing green jerseys for motivation and lost
14-7 to Boston College. They then struggled to beat Navy, were
trounced 44-13 at USC and lost 28-6 to North Carolina State in the
Coach Brian Kelly isn’t much interested in that history,
”History will have no effect on how this team plays,” Kelly
said. ”What will affect how they play is how they prepare during
the week. That is what I can control and that’s what our players
can control. Our focus is on what we can control.”
Kelly said he won’t use 2002 as a cautionary tale to remind his
team to guard against a letdown against a Pitt team that has just
as many wins as that Boston College team.
”I don’t use history lessons as much as I want them to realize
what it takes to win week in and week out,” he said. ”Look, there
will be enough of that out there to kind of get to them. I don’t
know if that from me is going to change the way we prepare.”
Kelly said after the victory over Oklahoma on Saturday the Irish
need to avoid looking at the big picture.
”If we start listening to national championship and the BCS,
we’ll lose a football game,” he said. ”They’re a pretty smart
group. They know that if they stick with what we’ve done and stick
with the process of just preparing for Pittsburgh, they’ll be fine.
But if they start thinking about all those other things and
listening, we’ll lose.”
Linebacker Manti Te’o said the Irish players understand.
”I think once we start paying attention to that, that’s when
we’re going to get in trouble,” he said.
But that didn’t stop Te’o from answering a question after the
Oklahoma victory about whether he thinks the Irish are the best
”I think we’re on our way. We have a lot of work to do but
we’re definitely on our way,” he said.