Notre Dame football: Kelly's focus on returning to top of mountain

South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND -- About 20 feet to Brian Kelly's right, hanging on a wall inside the Guglielmino Athletics Complex, was Notre Dame's 2013 schedule.

Beneath the 12 regular season games was listed something a bit different than last year's version.

January 7, 2014


"The focus has been since our last game last year," Kelly, ND's fourth-year coach said Friday during his pre-camp press conference, "is to get back to the top of the mountain, and you don't get there easily."

Last year's schedule inside the Gug simply said "TBD. Bowl Game." The Irish, who were coming off back-to-back 8-5 seasons, were the surprise team of the country, going 12-0 and achieving a No. 1 ranking before losing to Alabama, 42-14, in the title game.

"Everything that we've worked on since that next day -- and I mean the next day -- is about getting back to the national championship game and winning it," Kelly said.

This year's group begins practice on Monday in Marion, Ind. The Irish open their season Aug. 31 at Notre Dame Stadium against Temple.

This group already faces a challenge before its first practice. Everett Golson, last year's starting quarterback, was suspended for the fall semester over an academic matter. Kelly, this summer, named senior Tommy Rees the starter for the Temple game.

"He was the most experienced and gave us the best opportunity to win against Temple," Kelly said before adding that he did not name Rees the starter for all 13 games, simply the Temple game.

The four practices in Marion are closed to the media before the Irish return to South Bend next Friday for their first full practice in pads.

"We're like everyone else in college football," Kelly said. "We're extremely excited to start the season."

Kelly on Friday was asked about where he and the university stand in terms of a new contract. Kelly said the two parties have agreed in principle, but there are details to be worked out.

"I think it's imminent," Kelly said.

Kelly said that he still expects Golson back for the spring semester and that the staff, particularly offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Chuck Martin, remains in contact with Golson.

Not on the roster distributed to the media was former Irish basketball player Joey Brooks, who spent the spring as a reserve tight end. ND has five scholarship tight ends listed on the roster in Troy Niklas, Alex Welch, Ben Koyack, Mike Heuerman and Durham Smythe.

"We just felt that at that position we were in very good hands," Kelly said.

Listed on the roster is freshman walk-on cornerback Jesse Bongiovi, the son of rock star Jon Bon Jovi.

"Jesse has earned his spot on this team," Kelly said. "They don't look at him as a rock star's son."

Senior linebacker Danny Spond has announced he will give up football for medical reasons. SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN