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Hutton: Believe what ND’s Brian Kelly says at your own peril

FILE - In this Nov. 17 2012 file phoNotre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o right pats coach Brian Kelly back after

FILE - In this Nov. 17, 2012, file photo, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, right, pats coach Brian Kelly on the back after Te'o left the game during the second half of an NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind. Kelly, talking to the media for the first time since the BCS title game, is expected to talk about his interview with the Philadelphia Eagles and the Te'o situation during a teleconference Tuesday. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

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Kelly not sure if hoax affected te’o on the field

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o didn’t show any signs of being affected by the girlfriend hoax leading up to the BCS title game, but his play indicates it may have taken a toll, coach Brian Kelly said Tuesday.

“Hindsight is 20-20. I didn’t think going into the game he was affected by it. But he didn’t play his best. Alabama had something to do with that, clearly. But I really don’t know,” Kelly said.

“It’s a lot to weigh on the shoulders of somebody. I think we can make the leap that maybe it did. But I think Manti would know for sure.”

Te’o said in an interview with ESPN after the news of the hoax broke that it did not affect his performance in the title game blowout.

Kelly spoke to reporters Tuesday by conference call for the first time since the Irish were beaten 42-14 by Alabama in the BCS title game on Jan. 7.

He said so far everything that has come out about the girlfriend hoax matches up with what Te’o told him when he called him on Dec. 26. Kelly contacted athletic director Jack Swarbrick immediately after Te’o told him what happened.

— AP

Updated: March 2, 2013 7:16AM



Words can destroy you. The wrong ones, that is.

In the sincerity department, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly still hasn’t graduated to believable yet.

On Tuesday, in his first public comments since visiting with Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeff Lurie, in a controlled, 30-minute teleconference, Kelly was again fully committed to Notre Dame as the head coach. He dismissed his dalliance with the Eagles as mere “intrigue” on his part. In other words, Kelly was just chatting them up. They were “exploring” together, trying to figure out exactly what color Kelly’s parachute was. It’s still blue and gold — for the time being. There are no NFL jobs available so he must be telling the truth.

“(I) really did not have a good grasp of the NFL set-up and so for me, my head said let’s be more informed as it relates to the NFL, but my heart is in college football and with Notre Dame,” he said.

Really, is that it? Do you believe him or is this a guy who is setting the table for an NFL job down the road?

His dance with the NFL and his obtuse misreading of the furious reaction it created, has caused the Notre Dame family to view Kelly with weary eyes. Kelly, however, is a lucky man, leading a charmed professional life at Notre Dame so far. His crisis was overshadowed by a larger crisis.

The daily public relations beat down Kelly took for the four days after the BCS title game, before the school released a statement saying that he was staying, evaporated under the massive weight of the Manti Te’o story, which still has a little life left in it.

People have moved on — for now. They are more interested in the next great recruit for the Irish and what the hoaxster behind Teo’s fake girl friend will say on Dr. Phil’s show.

But Kelly’s impulse to say just about anything to fit the situation and audience, whether it’s true or not, at any time, is going to perpetually dog him.

People are wise to his gift for hyperbole, his double talk and his overconfidence.

He said in a prepared statement he decided not pursue the job with Philadelphia because of his “love for Notre Dame and the entire Fighting Irish community, the young men I have the great fortune to coach, and my desire to continue to build the best football program in the country.”

Believe those words at your own discretion. Kelly is a coaching martyr — a man who is not afraid to say one thing one day, and something completely different later if it suits his agenda.

Listen to what Kelly said at his introductory press conference at Notre Dame in 2009 after Cincinnati’s Martin Gilyard told the media before a team banquet that he was “fairly disgusted with the situation — him letting it last this long. Everybody and their momma knew what was going on. I felt like he did our team an injustice. Hopefully, he’ll pack his things up and get to South Bend in a hurry.”

The Kelly-to-South-Bend rumors had simmered for more than a week before a deal was struck.

Kelly responded with: “Transition is very difficult and those situations are extremely emotional, but I handled myself in a manner that was up front and honest. The two watch words for me in dealing with our student-athletes, and anybody, is professionalism and integrity. And I believe in those areas, that’s the way I handled myself.”

There are lots of people who would disagree with that statement, especially the part about integrity and being up front and honest. The Cincinnati team found out the inevitable in 2009 after the news flashed on ESPN.

Kelly’s penchant for exaggerating burst through like a rainbow when he announced in training camp last year that Dayne Crist had beaten out Tommy Rees for the starting quarterback position. These are the highlights of what he said in one breath about Crist: “I expect him to be the starter for 13 weeks. … I have great confidence in his leadership ability. … Quite honestly, he’s the kind of guy I want to coach. He’s tougher mentally and he handles the leadership position the way I want it handled.”

Crist was the starter for one half against South Florida. He was pulled after the game blew up — after an interception and two bad quarters. He saw the field one more time for a series against USC that year. Those words Kelly spoke about Crist were completely undermined by his actions. Kelly’s faith in him was fleeting and ephemeral, apparently just like the fantasy-based notion that he perpetuated just three days before interviewed with the Eagles when he called Notre Dame his “dream job.”

No it’s not, Brian. Please don’t say something you really don’t mean. Kelly has stepped on his own words consistently — more than any coach maybe ever at ND — in three seasons. Kelly can chase NFL jobs if he wants. Skip the deception and subterfuge and work on the authenticity part of your act. Behavior like this is shrugged off as part of the business.

Notre Dame isn’t Oregon and Brian Kelly isn’t Chip Kelly. Chip, here one day, gone a couple weeks later for the same Eagles job that was dangled in front of Brian, is just like the rest of them. The point with Notre Dame is that it was different. Kids go to class. They graduate — almost all of them. Coaches stay until they retire or get fired. It’s Ok to look around, when you’ve actually done something (one good season out of three doesn’t qualify as doing something) but don’t get ahead of yourself.

And watch what you say. People, lots of them, are listening very closely.



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