Will Tragedy at Notre Dame cost Brian Kelly his Position?


Of the two generalized groups of people calling for Coach Brian Kelly's dismissal at Notre Dame, I think one group has a valid case, while the other does not.

Negligence within the coaching staff chain of command precipitated the tragic death of Notre Dame student Declan Sullivan. He was needlessly put in a recklessly grave situation, and heads will roll because of it.

If you think Kelly should be held accountable for this situation, I see your point. There will be an emotional tribute to Sullivan on Saturday, but soon afterward the buck could inevitably stop with Kelly and ND Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick will eventually have to fire someone over this.

However, if you're an Irish fan and you think Kelly should get canned
because the team is 4-4, and looks unlikely to finish with a winning
season, well then I must respectfully disagree.

We'll come back to the Sullivan death investigation, but first, let's look at the football issue.

With their remaining schedule, Notre Dame is likely to finish 6-6
(just like last year) or 5-7. Yes, the run defense is atrocious, losing
to Navy and their 1930s offense three out of four is unacceptable, and this IS Notre Dame, where
9-3 or worse is a "down year." Expectations in South Bend reach higher
than the outstretched arms of Touchdown Jesus. ND didn't join the Big
Ten because they have their own exclusive television deal and they don't
need to.

Although they haven't been nationally relevant for awhile now, the
Irish simply don't bother with the idea of worrying about conference
championships- only national championships.

And Kelly has a long way to go to before we can even think about
putting them in the national conversation. However, please give him his
time. With his own players, not Charlie Weiss' personnel. Right now, you
can't evaluate Kelly's job performance as ND coach, it's WAY too early.
It's only the middle of his first season.

After 3-4 years, if the Kelly regime still has ND mired in mediocrity, then you can consider letting him go.

Now we can move on to the tragedy that unfolded Wednesday. Fox Sports Jason Whitlock writes in his column "Notre Dame's Kelly Must Go:

The head football coach has final say over everything that
transpires on the practice field. Everything. That's why Ohio State's
Jim Tressel moved the Buckeyes' practice inside on Tuesday when wind
gusts made conditions unsafe.

"I don't know if we'll be inside or out," Tressel told Ohio
reporters 24 hours before the Notre Dame tragedy. "It looks a little
nasty. I worry about our cameramen, their well-being up there 50 feet
in the air."

That's the proper mindset of a head football coach. He's paranoid about everything.

It's more likely ND's video coordinator or someone else on Kelly's
staff will get cut, not him. But make no mistake, someone seriously
dropped the ball, and in this case, it literally was a matter of life
and death. You've read the haunting messages Suillivan tweeted on his
way to practice, and while on the lift just minutes before meeting his
end. It was like something out of the horror film series "Final

The horribly tragic story of a young man's easily avoidable death
will get always a ton of publicity. Now add in: it occurred at Notre
Dame, the most visible program in college football, the Tweets and
Facebook updates that redefine the word macabre, and the fact it
occurred just days before Halloween. It all adds up to a lot of
unwanted, negative publicity for the program.

Is that enough to cost Kelly his job? That's really up to the
University and will be based on what facts they find in their

And the findings of that investigation should certainly trump the football criteria.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net , a Midwest webzine. He's also a regular contributor to the Tribune's Chicago Now network, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank


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  • I don't follow ND football, don't care where they are in the standings. However since the coach is responsible for all that happens on the field, yes, Kelly must go. To of put Declan Sullivan in the line of danger for practice footage is beyond reasonable. I'm a photographer myself, like most sports photogs I had my less than bright moments getting that perfect shot. It takes maturity to learn what is an acceptable risk and what isn't. However, this young man was 20, an employee and could have been overruled by a responsible adult. Obviously the responsible adults were with Ohio State.

  • In reply to janerickard:

    I wonder do these lifts have disclaimers printed/posted on the them? warning advisories "do not operate in winds above 25 m.p.h." they should.

  • In reply to thesportsbank:

    They all have disclaimer labels per OSHA; it is mandatory and they are not to be removed

  • Ok lets get it straight, I come from a family of ironworkers and was one myself for quite awhile. That being said I know a thing or two about scissor lifts as well as OSHA. There is no excuse for this kids death or for notre dame to except anything else but for the resignation of Brian Kelly as well as the video coordinator the athletic director or anyone who should of been responsible for letting him go up in that lift in those conditions. PERIOD!!!! I have always carried I very high respect for the university of notre dame but if all these people that I have mentioned dont lose there jobs at least that respect has completely fallen away.

  • In reply to rileysbox:

    Good to see some people posting here who know more about OSHA regulations, shooting practice and scissor lifts than I do. I can only make a judgment on Kelly's fate from a football standpoint, because that's what I know.

    But this situation was literally a matter of life and death so the football issues should definitely be a distant second when it comes to determining his fate

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