Notre Dame Football: Kelly holds Golson, Vanderdoes accountable

AL LESAR South Bend Tribune
ND Insider

BRIDGMAN -- Accountability has its place in the Notre Dame football program.

Put to the test over the past couple weeks, Irish coach Brian Kelly didn't back down from his convictions.

Everett Golson and Eddie Vanderdoes, two young men in situations with very different circumstances, both came down to accountability as the bottom line.

Golson, the quarterback who guided Notre Dame to the BCS National Championship Game six months ago, has left the university after an academic issue.

Vanderdoes, hailed as one of the top defensive line recruits in the country, wasn't given his release from his national letter-of-intent after he turned his back on the Irish and de-cided to attend UCLA.

Wednesday, before playing in the Irish Legends golf outing at Lost Dunes Country Club, Kelly said that both situations had consequences that couldn't be ignored.

"I look at these as fairly clear-cut scenarios," Kelly said. "Everett Golson didn't live up to the standards and he was held accountable. Eddie Vanderdoes has a standard to live up to, and he was held accountable.

"Those weren't that hard. I don't have to spend so much time thinking about it. I know they garner a lot of attention from a media standpoint. It doesn't take a lot of energy out of my time. It allows me to still focus on our team."

Kelly did his part to fuel the whirlwind of the last couple weeks. Shortly after Golson's academic shortcomings were divulged, Kelly was adamant about coaxing public opinion away from Tommy Rees as being the default option as the starter. Andrew Hendrix and Malik Zaire would join Rees for a wide-open battle for the top job.

A week later, while at an obscure award ceremony in Grand Rapids, he shifted gears, spilled the beans, and put ND Nation in a tizzy.

"When I was first asked (who the starter would be), we were within 24 hours of Everett not being with us," Kelly explained. "I'm not going to commit anything until I'd gotten a chance to think about it. "My initial comments were dealing with the present situation. I hadn't gotten a chance to think about Everett not being our starter.

"As I had a chance to think about it, Tommy does not have to fight to be the No. 1 quarterback. We think that Andrew can compete and help our offense, and Malik is going to continue to grow. It gave me some time to sit back and think and respond accordingly."

Golson recently was seen at Riverside (Calif.) Community College. Does Kelly expect him to play at a junior college this fall?

"Based upon my conversations with Everett, he's going to do the things necessary to get back to Notre Dame," Kelly said.

OK, but is he going to play football somewhere else for a season?

"Based upon my conversations with Everett, it's strictly about getting his academic situation in order and coming back to Notre Dame," Kelly reiterated.

There has been speculation that Golson had plans to visit quarterback guru George Whitfield for a week's worth of instruction. Guys like Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, Landry Jones, Johnny Manziel and Braxton Miller swear by Whitfield.

"What happens outside of the conversations I have, I'd rather not get into the specifics," said Kelly. "Everett knows what we talk about. I try to stay focused on his academics and getting back to Notre Dame. I try not to get into that other stuff.

"As you heard and as I heard, he took full responsibility for his academic situation and is committed to making sure he's better for it. Whether it's a defining moment in his life, I think it can be a very positive thing for him."

Don't count on Vanderdoes(n't)'s brief relationship with the Irish — in which no annul-ment was granted — to be much of a defining moment for him. His strange decision to sign and not attend will cost him a year's eligibility.

"From my perspective, it's always been about the integrity of the national letter-of-intent," Kelly said. "The recruiting process is one that's detailed today. There really is no gray area anymore. There's communication. It's not like when I started, we didn't have cell phones.

"For me, it was maintaining the integrity of the letter-of-intent and following through. I remember the first time I got an apartment, I had to put a deposit down. I found another apartment I liked better. I didn't get my deposit back.

“I'm using that as an analogy only in the sense that when you sign a binding letter like the NLI, you should be held to it. That's essentially what I did."

Rocketed at Kelly after that statement was a question about his breaking a contract with the University of Cincinnati to become the head coach at Notre Dame almost four years ago.

Kelly didn't blink.

"Yeah, I paid a million dollars in a buyout, too," Kelly retorted.

OK, that works.

"There's accountability in making those decisions," Kelly said. "You could break the contract, and he has. He's broken the contract and he's going to another school. But there's a level of accountability there.

"This is my 23rd year of being a head coach — this has never happened before. I don't expect this to be a scenario we have to revisit year-in and year-out. It was a very unique circumstance."

Of course, at Notre Dame, anything can happen.

And someone is always accountable.