The Notre Dame Fighting Irish endured their fourth loss in five games as they lost to Stanford, 17-10, Saturday. Head coach Brian Kelly, who’s had a rough season, didn’t just lose to the Cardinal yesterday.
The Fighting Irish squandered a 10-0 halftime lead, and gave up nine of those points without ever being on defense. Stanford got on the board in the third quarter with defensive back Quenton Meeks’s pick-six, and collected a safety after Notre Dame center Sam Mustipher’s snap went into the end zone. The Cardinal’s only offensive touchdown of the game came after center Jesse Burkett grabbed running back Bryce Love’s fumble in the end zone in the fourth quarter.
Unlike last week’s game, Kelly couldn’t blame the weather. (Mustipher was still bad, although his coach was a little nicer to him this time around.) Junior QB DeShone Kizer was uninspiring but not hopeless, completing 14 of 26 passes for 154 yards and two picks, along with 83 rushing yards and a touchdown. Kelly actually benched Kizer for Malik Zaire during the game, later claiming that he was trying to kickstart the offense. Zaire completed zero passes; his total positive impact was three rushing yards. Kelly went back to Kizer for the final possession, and the quarterback led a drive to Stanford’s 14-yard line before fumbling on fourth down and ending the game. This was Brian Kelly’s first loss of the night. Former Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen gave him his second:
Clausen ditched Notre Dame right as Kelly got hired and got six years of sweet NFL contracts out of it. He has a point, DeShone.
Kelly’s third loss of the night came after the game, when he got into a tiff with one of Stanford’s coaches:
I said last week that the list of people responsible for the Fighting Irish’s performance is shrinking, and eventually, only Kelly’s name will be left. Of course, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick did give Kelly a six-year extension at the beginning of this year, and the program did go 10-3 in 2015. Kelly will likely get one more season to show some improvement before the school considers axing him.
That doesn’t mean that this horrid 2016 campaign can’t be savored, however. Everything Kelly has done—his short temper, his lack of accountability, his decision to hold a practice in windy conditions which led to the death of Declan Sullivan—justifies the scrutiny he’ll receive for the rest of the season. No one deserves it more right now.