Brian Kelly, Notre Dame
It has been four seasons since Brian Kelly and the Fighting Irish were in the BCS Championship game — a game they lost to Alabama. The glow from that run has been gone for some time now. Kelly is entering his eighth season at Notre Dame, and after a 4-8 campaign, the Irish will be looking forward to 2017, hoping to bounce back from their first bowl-less season since 2009.
The 2016 season was a terrible one for Kelly and the Irish. The school was hit with NCAA sanctions that forced the team to vacate victories in 2012 and 2013 thanks to academic violations committed by a student-trainer helping out two players. And sure, the Irish will appeal those penalties, but it certainly doesn’t look good for Kelly.
On the field, The Irish could only beat Nevada, Syracuse, Miami and Army in ’16. They lost to Texas to start the season, lost to a bad Michigan State team and were defeated by both Stanford and USC. The latter was a 45-27 loss.
If it wasn’t for Kelly’s abilities as a recruiter, one has to wonder if Notre Dame wouldn’t have already decided to go in a different direction, and he was reportedly thinking about it as well.
The 2017 season is a huge one for both Kelly and the Notre Dame football program.