Notre Dame's Brian Kelly named AP Coach of the Year

Tribune Staff Report
ND Insider

The coach of the year honors have piled up for Brian Kelly.

On Monday, Notre Dame’s head coach was named The Associated Press college football Coach of the Year.

Earlier this month, Kelly was named the Home Depot Coach of the Year. Kelly was also given the 2019 Stallings Award to recognize his humanitarian contributions in addition to achievements on the field.

Kelly received 16 of 58 first-place votes from AP college football poll voters and 81 total points. Alabama’s Nick Saban was second with 16 first-place votes and 66 points and Central Florida first-year coach Josh Heupel was third with 33 points (five first-place votes). Twelve coaches received at least one first-place vote and eight received at least three for the award.

Kelly, who also received the award in 2012, becomes just the third person to win AP Coach of the Year twice since its inception in 1998. Saban and TCU’s Gary Patterson have also won it twice.

Kelly led the Irish to a 12-0 record and a trip to the College Football Playoff semifinal this season. No. 3 Notre Dame will take on No. 2 Clemson (13-0) in the Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Dec. 29.

Since Kelly last won AP Coach of the Year, he had to endure a 4-8 season in 2016 that resulted in many fans calling for his job. He made major staff changes in the following offseason, but he also changed his approach too.

“I think I’m a better leader of our program,” Kelly told the AP. “The organization has gotten so much bigger. The ability to create the right energy and day-to-day culture is difficult. I think I’ve gotten a lot better at leading that large group on a day-to-day basis.”

Kelly has made a concerted effort to spend more time with his players.

“Sitting them down and listening to them is similar to any good business or CEO sitting down and listening to his employees and getting feedback from them as well,” Kelly told the AP. “I think where I made some real strides was spending more time with our players and getting feedback from them.”

Brian Kelly was named The Associated Press college football Coach of the Year on Monday for the second time in his Notre Dame tenure.