Has Notre Dame already decided who Brian Kelly’s eventual replacement is going to be?
This isn’t a rumor, random speculation, link to an unreliable source or baseless hot take about what is going to happen with the Irish football program when Brian Kelly’s time as head coach comes to an end.
Instead, it seems to be Kelly himself saying exactly who he believes his ultimate replacement in South Bend will be.
Kelly appeared on “Race and Sports in America: Conversations,” where he served on a panel with NBA stars Stephen Curry and Vince Carter, and Curry’s father and former NBA player, Dell Curry, in an episode that first aired last month.
The conversation on racial inequalities and how to make a tangible difference is informative, compelling and worth listening to in full. But the headline for Irish fans comes when Kelly got perhaps a bit too comfortable and might have accidentally said something he didn’t intend to share publicly.
While speaking about the importance of getting out of one’s comfort zone in making hires and “getting away from the old boys network,” Kelly mentioned his female director of football operations, Olivia Mitchell, and said, “She’ll kick anybody’s butt any day in every metric when it comes to doing the job in football.”
Kelly then discussed another recent hire, defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman.
“My defensive coordinator is Black, and he’s going to be the next head coach,” Kelly said. “This is not about color or race. This is about the things they [Steph Curry, Dell Curry, Vince Carter] just talked about.
“Steph just talked about the most important things to be a CEO, and that’s understanding how you make people around you better. Please. That simple.”
This wasn’t the proper forum for an extended conversation about the future of Notre Dame football, so no follow-up questions were asked. The discussion then transitioned to name, image and likeness issues.
It’s worth listening to (roughly 46:15 into this link) to hear the actual audio yourself — but Kelly seems to be crystal clear in what he says. He doesn’t say Freeman is going to be “a head coach.” He states that Freeman is “going to be the next head coach.”
It doesn’t get a whole lot clearer than that.
I wasn’t familiar with this show until John Kennedy of Always Irish put out a tweet Wednesday night:
The episode featuring Kelly happened to be airing on the Golf Channel when John caught that nugget.
It’s not a press release on official Notre Dame letterhead, but what the current Fighting Irish head coach said about his eventual successor seems pretty straightforward.
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