Notre Dame football: Irish blunder hits at wrong time


South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND -- Sometimes you get the bear ...

... And, sometimes the bear gets you.

Over the course of a two-hour football practice, at any level, stuff can happen. Often times, strange stuff.

The key is, though, to have that stuff happen when a national television camera isn't rolling.

That can be an oops of seismic proportions.

The bear got Brian Kelly the other day. There had to be an unusual chain of events that led to the oops, but it all conspired against the Notre Dame head coach.

Wednesday was the day when ESPN was visiting the Irish practice. No other media was allowed in. Kelly was wired for sound throughout.

This week, Kelly is filling in as running backs coach while Tony Alford is away with his family, dealing with the sudden death of his brother.

Kelly had the running backs lined up, ready to approach "the gauntlet," a device that mimics defenders' arms tugging and pulling at the ballcarrier as he bursts through.

Cam McDaniel secured the ball and headed toward the machine. BAM! Stopped cold. Nothing budged.

It was like trying to go through a stadium turnstile the wrong direction.

That thing ain't movin'.

Had Alford, who uses "the gauntlet" every day, been there, he probably would have noticed it was facing the wrong direction. Pity the manager who set it up.

Instant viral video. Fifteen seconds of infamy.

Looked like a clip from The Three Stooges.

Kelly's impromptu reaction to the blunder caught on tape: "You guys are freaking kidding me! Get on that side (pointing to the other side of the device)."

In this age in which ESPN dictates way more than it should, and nothing is for sure until it has been posted on Facebook and Twitter, goofs like that are more apt to become YouTube fodder than ever before.

Nose guard Louis Nix couldn't resist poking some fun at McDaniel via Twitter.

Nix: Lol @cammcdaniel4 "You guys are freaking kidding me."

McDaniel: @1IrishChocolate haha in TX we make our blasters accessible at both ends ... Never had to think about it til now!

Nix: @cammcdaniel4 It didn't make you move so you're good bro #TexasStrong

McDaniel: @1IrishChocolate It was better than running into you. I promise you that bud.

Media viewing and filming of Irish practices is tightly scrutinized. Since workouts began Aug. 5, Notre Dame has had roughly 25 hours of practice time. The regular media has been allowed to watch two hours of that, all at one sitting. Cameras have been given clearance to shoot for 25 minutes.

But when ESPN knocks and asks for an all-access pass, the Irish had to answer. Because Ohio State did. Because 'Bama did. Because all the top programs did. Because all the top recruits might be watching.

Problem is, Wednesday's Irish infomercial didn't exactly come off without a hitch. Notre Dame normally is meticulous about its productions. Quality and integrity are at the top of the priority list.

Under normal circumstances, Wednesday's blunder would have ended up on whatever the high-tech version of the cutting room floor is. No such thing as even a hint of a negative perspective in a Notre Dame production. With ESPN shooting, it became widely circulated.

Maybe it reveals that there's a human side to the mayhem that happens on the practice field every day. Maybe it could hint at confusion.

It really was kinda funny.

Who knows how a big-time recruit sitting at home and watching the mistake is going to perceive the blunder?

It probably wasn't the most flattering of lights in which to have been portrayed.

But, then again, stuff happens.

Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly earned $1.46 million in pay from the university in 2012. (SBT file photo/James Brosher)