Blue and Gold Illustrated

June/July 2017

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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4 JUNE/JULY 2017 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED O ften for better but some- times for worse, Brian Kelly's can dor an d honesty have always been used both for him and against him in the media storm that forever follows any Notre Dame head football coach. Instead of hiding behind a curtain of cliché and coach speak, Kelly typically flies unfiltered when discussing his program and players, a frankness that often brings criticism and consequence. That's all about to change. In a recent interview with Ralph Russo of the Associ- ated Press, Kelly said that brute honesty has not been the best policy while coach- ing the Irish, and moving forward, fans and media should expect the windows to his program to be shaded and more closely guarded. Kelly indicated that he will adopt a more censored ap- proach when delivering inside infor- mation in a similar style as to how coaches Nick Saban at Alabama and Bill Belichick with the New England Patriots handle their public affairs. "I can't be honest with assessments of players to the media, totally hon- est," Kelly explained in the AP in- terview, "because it's portrayed as throwing guys under the bus, being disloyal to a player." Much of Kelly's about-face to shar- ing news and offering opinions be- gan a few weeks ago before the latest NFL Draft when the coach said in an interview with NFL Network that former Irish quarterback DeShone Kizer should have delayed his draft entry and stayed in school one more year to improve as a player and grad- uate as a student. The context of Kelly's honest and simple assessment of Kizer — all of which made perfect sense — was gathered, twisted, interpreted, spun and regurgitated by almost every sports media outlet in the country, many of which suggested that Kel- ly's comments ultimately dropped Kizer from a first-round pick to a second-round selection. "They don't know the relationship with the player," Kelly continued, taking exception to the media's han- dling of almost every public com- ment he makes about his players and program. "Based upon what hap- pened last year and the fallout that occurred from other media sources, it doesn't do the university any good — it doesn't do our program any good — for me to be forthright when it comes to those kinds of as- sessments of our players." Given Kelly's history of letting his emotions and mouth sometimes drive the moment more than his control and restraint, adopting a more censored approach to news updates may be more difficult than advertised. But if Kelly is able to sterilize his message as he promises he will, the fans will be the biggest losers. Like it or not, Brian Kelly is com- fortable in his own skin. He has al- ways been strong enough to speak his mind, bold enough to publicly challenge his staff and players, and confident enough to dismiss outside "noise," until now. He screams and cusses until he's red in the face when play- ers make mistakes, he throws headsets and sideline tan- trums when expectations and execution fall short, and then he provides an honest assessment of exactly what went right and wrong, win or lose. And isn't that what we all want? "We're very demanding and [the players] expect me to be honest with them on a day-to-day basis," Kelly explained. "They would say, 'That's Coach Kelly being Coach Kelly.'" In this age of instanta- neous media, the idea of Kelly taking a more guarded approach is probably a wise one as to not have his mes- sage sliced and shaped for the purpose of shock value and Internet clicks. See, just using Kelly's own words below in selective context demonstrates how easily it is to spin a story. Both of the following quotes are pulled from the same Kelly response to a question about Kizer 's NFL Draft readiness: "You're going to have a great young man and a great quarterback. The skills are out there; you can see them. You just go to his workout and you can see." "Whoever takes DeShone Kizer, he's not a finished product. … He's just not complete yet." The point is, if whatever you say can and will be used against you, then why say anything at all? If it sticks, Kelly's new censored approach to future news distribution will make for diluted press cover- age and constrict the flow of relevant team information. But with a judgment season and a fresh spin cycle set to open in the fall, who can blame Kelly for limiting the news cycle in the spring? ✦ When Honesty Fails To Be The Best Policy UPON FURTHER REVIEW TODD D. BURLAGE Todd D. Burlage has been a writer for Blue & Gold Illustrated since July 2005. He can be reached at tburlage@blueandgold.com Moving forward, Brian Kelly (left) plans to adopt the type of censored approach when dealing with the media that Alabama head coach Nick Saban (right) has implemented to great success. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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