At some point, Notre Dame fans talked themselves into Bob Davie, Tyrone Willingham and yes, even Charlie Weis.
Those post-Lou Holtz coaches all had moments of glory. And they all crashed and burned. None of them will have a gate at Notre Dame Stadium named after them, for sure.
Maybe in a few years Brian Kelly will stumble and be lumped in with his predecessors, but right now he appears to be building the foundation of a consistently solid program.
Notre Dame's 20-3 dismantling of a good Michigan State team on Saturday was a clear sign the Irish might be for real this year. Notre Dame pounded Navy in Ireland in Week 1, had a hangover game the following week against Purdue but still managed to win, and now is 3-0 for the first time since 2002. The win over Michigan State was Notre Dame's first over a top 10 team in seven years.
Notre Dame has built off a solid finish to last season by riding a defense that has been very good, especially against the run. Notre Dame is allowing just 3 yards per carry, which is impressive considering all three of its opponents could end up ranked pretty well in rushing offense. Kelly's no-nonsense style seems to be working well with his players. The Irish have won 11 of their last 14 games.
Maybe Kelly, however subconsciously, is aware of the ups and downs of the coaches before him. Because he is sending out a clear message before this week's game against Michigan that the 3-0 start needs to be forgotten about right away:
"Don't get infected with success," Kelly said. "It's easy to listen to how great you are. We've got to avoid the noise and stay disciplined on the process."
That won't be easy, considering Notre Dame is up to No. 11 in the Associated Press poll, its highest ranking since December of 2006, and Notre Dame-Michigan gets marquee treatment even when the teams aren't very good. Both teams are pretty good this year, and Kelly wants his team to continue to maintain its impressive start throughout this season.
"It's easy to listen to how great you are," Kelly said. "We've got to avoid the noise and stay disciplined on the process. If we do that, we'll be pretty good in November."
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