20 Questions with Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly

Eric Hansen
South Bend Tribune

1.  What is/was your favorite quarantine activity?

A “Happy hour.”

2. If you could pluck any player from your first 10 teams and add him to the 2020 squad, who would it be?

A “Stephon Tuitt.”

Defensive end Stephon Tuitt (7) gets Brian Kelly’s vote as the past ND player he’d most like to add to the current Irish roster. Tribune Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN

3. Which player surprised you the most with their NFL career?

A “I would say Bennett Jackson, still being around. He’s done such a great job of hanging in there.”

Former Notre Dame cornerback Bennett Jackson (33) has changed positions (safety) and changed teams several times since being drafted by the New York Giants in 2014.

4. What’s the best and worst thing that could come out of the Name, Image and Likeness movement?

A “I think just strictly having players paid for marketing through commercials, cars, things of that nature — that’s probably the worst that can happen. The best thing is they get paid internships.”

5. What was it like to grow up in the South Bend area for Kenzel (Kelly’s youngest of three children and a soon-to-be college freshman football player at Grand Valley State)?

A “He got interviewed after games a lot.”

Brian Kelly’s wife, Paqui, and son Kenzel, 8, listen as the Notre Dame football coach addresses the media Dec. 11, 2009, at his introductory press conference. Kenzel will be a freshman football player at Grand Valley State this fall, pandemic permitting.

6. How do you spot greatness/potential in an assistant coach?

A “It has to start with just the ability to be genuine. I’ve got a feel that you’re in it for the right reasons. You’re in it to be a mentor, a teacher, a coach. I’ve got to sense that. I’ve got to feel that first. And then I think the second thing is great communications skills, the ability to really reach people.”

7. If you belted out your favorite song in the blind auditions on The Voice, how many chairs could you get to turn?

A “If it was all equal and it was just coaches and we weren’t performers, I would hold my own. I don’t think I’d win, but I’m not terrible. So I’d get at least one chair to turn.”

8. What food do you love but doesn’t love you back?

A “Spicy food.”

9. Have you ever binge-watched anything beyond game tape, and if so, what was it?

A “Yes I did, and I only did it during quarantine. The guy that worked for NBC that had all the sexual harassment charges, Matt Lauer. They did a six-, seven-part series about Matt Lauer, and I binge-watched that. It was really good.”

10. If they made a movie based on your life story, the title should be … ? And the actress who plays (wife) Paqui should be …?

A “The title should be ‘Journey.’ The actress? Let’s go with the gal from Friends who’s still acting, Jennifer Aniston.”

Jennifer Aniston is Brian Kelly’s pick as the actress to play his wife if a movie is ever made about his life story.

11. How often do you find yourself on Twitter?

A “Every day.”

12. What’s one habit you wish you could break?

A “I’ve got a lot of them. I’m trying to break being too predictable with my day.”

13. Favorite TV show of all time?

A “Hogan’s Heroes.”

14. Greatest college football coach of all time?

A “Ara Parseghian.”

Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly, right, talks Irish coaching legend Ara Parseghian at the Legends golf outing in Bridgman, Mich., on June 12, 2013.

15. Bravest thing you’ve ever done?

A “Took the Central Michigan job.”

16. Stupidest thing you’ve ever done?

A “Took the Central Michigan job.”

Brian Kelly celebrates a big victory with this Central Michigan football team. AP File Photo

17. Player you passed on in recruiting that came back to bite you?

A “I don’t think there’s a player while I’ve been at Notre Dame who we passed on who came back to light us up.”

18. What person were you nervous to meet?

A “President Clinton.”

19. What’s the mark you want to make on the world beyond football?

A “I think when it’s all said and done, good husband, good father. You start there. And that the players that were under your charge were the same, that they’re great members of our community and our country because of the time they spent in your program. That’s the mark.”

20. What’s the hardest lesson you’ve learned during the pandemic and the greatest blessing you’ve received?

A “The hardest lesson is to keep learning, open your mind. Don’t change the channel, if you will. Keep moving and don’t get caught on one side or the other. And the best blessing would be probably the ability to spend more time with your family.”

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly laughs during the Cotton Bowl coaches press conference Dec. 28, 2018 in the Omni Hotel in Dallas.