Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly abruptly backpedaled Tuesday from comments he made Sunday regarding the rivalry game between Michigan and the Irish.
Kelly initially told media he thought the contest between the two teams – which will be played in Ann Arbor this weekend – was a good regional game, but that it didn’t have the historical power of some of Notre Dame’s other rivalries.
"I really haven't seen it as one of those historic, traditional Notre Dame rivalries," Kelly said on a conference call. "I've seen it as just one of those great football games that Notre Dame has played.
"For me, I've been in Michigan a long time, I've always felt the Notre Dame-Michigan game was a big regional game. But in the Notre Dame history books, this game has (been) played, but obviously there have been some years where it hasn't been played for a number of years."
Of course after two days of criticism from fans, media and even Michigan coach Brady Hoke, Kelly did a 180 and declared the contest to be one of the all-time greats in the lore of Irish football.
"It's a great and historical rivalry that we'll be playing this Saturday," Kelly said Tuesday. "So let's get that out of the way right away so we don't have to answer any more questions about this rivalry.
"We're excited about the game, excited about playing it. This will be decided by the players on the field and the preparation that goes along with it. So we can stick to that and dispense the nonsense."
Um, it’s only nonsense because you made it nonsense, Brian Kelly. This wouldn’t have even been a thing had Kelly not disrespected one of the great games in college football in the first place; one that has dated back to 1887. Perhaps he was just trying to distance himself from it because the two teams will stop playing after 2014 – a move Hoke called “chickening out” in order to play weaker opponents.
There’s no doubt Kelly realized his words created a distraction for his team and his about-face was an attempt to nip it in the bud, but there’s no doubt he and the Irish will still hear about it in their final trip to Ann Arbor this weekend.