If Brian Kelly -- or anyone else for that matter -- is to be successful at Notre Dame, he'll have to accomplish a feat that Bob Davie, Tyrone Willingham and Charlie Weis were never able to accomplish.
Win, of course, but also to rebuild a defense that has been sorely lacking in talent since the end of the Lou Holtz era.
Considering Notre Dame's natural recruiting advantages, many will be surprised to learn that the Irish haven't had a defensive player drafted in the first round in well over a decade. In fact, it was 1997 -- Davie's first year leading the Irish -- that the Jacksonville Jaguars selected defensive lineman Renaldo Wynn with the 21st pick of the draft. Since, there has been only one Notre Dame defender even drafted within the first 50 picks of any draft, and that was defensive tackle Trevor Laws to the Eagles two years ago... who went 47th overall.
During Lou Holtz's reign (1986-1996), on the other hand, there were 12 Fighting Irish defenders drafted within the first 50 picks...
I can understand why Notre Dame fired Charlie Weis. He simply didn't win enough games. However, the man was brought in due to his brilliance as an offensive coach. He helped turn Brady Quinn into a first round pick, recruited and will have successfully made Jimmy Clausen into a first round pick and has produced some talented skill position players around them in tight ends John Carlson (2008 2nd round pick to Seattle) and Anthony Fasano (2006 2nd round pick to Dallas) and wide receivers Maurice Stovall (2006 3rd round pick to Tampa Bay) and Golden Tate.
If Notre Dame is to return to its former glory -- a monumental task considering their high academic standards and tough annual schedule -- they can't just rely on the flashy offensive stars to get it done.
Congratulations to Brian Kelly on the new job. I wish you the best... (and by that I mean a pass rusher or shutdown cornerback or two...)