Quick Hits: Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly introduces 2017 coaching staff

Mike Vorel
South Bend Tribune

Same head coach, but new surroundings.

Brian Kelly met the local media for the first time since the end of a disappointing 2016 season on Monday, as Notre Dame's eighth-year head coach introduced seven new staff members inside the Guglielmino Athletics Complex.

Here are some highlights from Kelly's address.

-- Kelly opened his press conference by acknowledging last season's struggles. "I think it's important to certainly look at where you are, where you were," Kelly said. "And for me, I know I'm always going to be reminded about last year and I clearly understand that. But I'm planning for the future."

-- Kelly lauded new defensive coordinator Mike Elko's ability to force turnovers. "I was looking for somebody that would take the football away," he said.

-- On what he was looking for in an offensive coordinator, Kelly said, "I was looking for, first and foremost, a play-caller." He said that, in conducting 96 exit interviews with players, he needed to be involved more in all three facets of the team, not just offense.

-- Kelly confirmed that new offensive coordinator Chip Long will call the offensive plays and also coach the tight ends. "I've got a great feel for him as a play-caller," Kelly said.

-- Kelly said that former strength and conditioning coordinator Paul Longo is dealing with a "long-term disability." "He just was not able to continue to follow through in that role," Kelly said.

-- "We didn't settle in any one of these three positions," Kelly said of his defensive coordinator, offensive coordinator and football performance director hires.

-- Kelly said that new linebackers coach Clark Lea, who was with Elko at Wake Forest, has "already done a fine job in his recruiting efforts."

-- Kelly cited wide receivers coach DelVaughn Alexander's organizational skills and ability to teach the wide receivers.

-- "We were able to hit a home run here with Brian Polian," Kelly said of the team's special teams coach hire. "We'll see his effects, right away, in recruiting," Kelly also said of Polian.

-- "You can call him whatever you like. I think he'll answer to either Tom or Tommy," Kelly said of quarterbacks coach Tom Rees. Rees has technically been hired in a graduate assistant role but he'll have complete control of the quarterbacks room, Kelly said. "He'll be able to mentor our quarterback group in a fashion that nobody else in the country can."

-- Kelly confirmed the hire of assistant strength and conditioning coach David Ballou and said they are in the process of hiring one more person in that department. He also added that Jeff Quinn will be a senior analyst this season.

-- Kelly said that Notre Dame will not employ an entirely new offense with the addition of offensive coordinator Chip Long, but there will be elements to the offense that weren't there before.

-- Notre Dame will not go to IMG Academy for a week of spring practice, which the team had been previously considering, Kelly said.

-- Kelly wants to push the tempo more offensively, he said. That was a staple of Long's offense at Memphis.

-- Kelly was asked if he had any discussions about his own job with athletics director Jack Swarbrick following the season finale against USC. "We didn't discuss my job as much as we discussed a blueprint for what we need to do to be successful," Kelly said.

-- Kelly was also asked what his biggest disappointment was from Notre Dame's 4-8 2016 season. "I led this team poorly," he said. 

Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly speaks to media at his season-opening press conference Friday, August 5, 2016 in South Bend. Tribune photo/BECKY MALEWITZ