Bob Birge's Irish Eyes Are Smiling

December 11, 2009 2:31 AM

Kelly departure angers Cincinnati

While Notre Dame is excited about hiring Brian Kelly as its next football coach, he leaves behind a group of disillusioned players at Cincinnati.

This is the dark side of college football, the big money, big business side.

It's easy to understand why Kelly would want the Notre Dame job. He's an Irish Catholic who grew up in Boston and has been a long-time admirer of Notre Dame. Thursday's announcement came as no real surprise.

Last week, however, Kelly said he was committed to staying at Cincinnati and chided the media for reporting that he was the leading candidate to replace Charlie Weis at Notre Dame.

Now he sounds like a liar. Of course, he's hardly the first coach to renege on a promise. Alabama coach Nick Saban has made it an art form.

Breaking promises, begging out of contracts - it's part of the system, happens all the time in college football. And as long as coaches are paid million dollar contracts, as long as they are exalted and put on pedestals and glorified, it will continue to happen.

If you're a Notre Dame fan, you say to Cincinnati, too bad, get over it, move on, find another coach.

Predictably, Kelly's decision to take the Notre Dame position did not go over well with his former players.

'We already knew what he was going to say. We weren't giving him a round of applause or anything," Bearscats tight end Ben Guidugli said of Kelly. "It's like somebody turned their back on us. We brought this whole thing this far. We've come this far. To have someone walk out now is disappointing."

Indeed, the Cincinnati players learned two painful lessons - college football is a one-way street and don't always believe what your coach tells you.

But don't blame Notre Dame. It's just part of the system.

Maybe all coaches in the Football Bowl Subdivision should work under one-year contracts.

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