I have long thought there was no more corrupt person in college football than Jim Tressel, but I am conceding the honor to Brian Kelly, the new head football coach at Notre Dame. It’s not just that the most visible position at Notre Dame is now occupied by a man whose views on abortion are suspect (this despite the claim by many that such considerations ought to be irrelevant). Nor is it that he made some racially incendiary comments while the head football coach at CMU. Beyond all that, there is the simple fact that Kelly’s whole career has been nothing but ambition masked in hypocrisy. Upon leaving his current job at the University of Cincinnati, where he is under contract, Kelly took the time to thank his players for “making this opportunity possible.” It’s as if he were on a date, met a more attractive woman, left with her, and then sent a thank-you to the first woman for making the meeting with the more attractive one possible. It’s difficult to see much honor in that, and the UC players were properly irate. When, in the past, Kelly had been mentioned as a candidate for higher-profile positions, he typically retorted that his children and wife were very happy being in Cincinnati, that it was a great environment for his family, and that he had no intention of leaving, saying that he wanted “to beat the 39-year record” for tenure as head coach. At his introductory press conference at Notre Dame, Kelly used his family as accessories in this upward mobility, even going as far as noting that his children had acknowledged that this was his dream, but they were sad for themselves. In other words, his children are fully cognizant of the fact he had put his desires above their well-being, and he somehow made this seem like a good thing.
Defenders of Kelly have pointed out that “a man has to take care of his family.” Well. Kelly had a five-year $6.3 million contract at UC. He couldn’t take care of his family on that? Kelly has moved his wife and children 4 times in the past 7 years. Is such status-seeking and ambulation consistent with taking care of one’s own? Permit me to be highly skeptical. Kelly’s abandonment of his players at UC, his disregard for his family’s rootedness, and his public concession that his dream was more important than his children’s happiness – and then to make them complicit in it by trotting them out at the press conference to make it appear as if he genuinely cared for his family – all testify to his total absence of honor, made even more reprehensible by his gall in stating at the press conference that he had behaved honorably. This is a dark day for Notre Dame.