I had the great misfortune of sitting a few rows above the end zone tunnel witnessing each and every touchdown run by Anthony Davis at the Coloseum in 1974. There is no doubt in my mind that Ara had, temporarily, lost the team that week due to internal tension among the players. 49 - 0 in favor of USC in the second half against a highly acclaimed John Ray coached defense.
I remember the fiasco at Miami in 1985 when a pathetic and limp effort resulted in an embarrassing 58 - 0 trashing of Notre Dame in Gerry Faust's last game as head coach.
I watched the debacle of yesterday's performance and there is absolutely no doubt that Kelly has lost his connection with his players. The body language, facial gestures, lack of energy speak loud and clear to us.
Kelly is Kelly. He is capable of change but he will not change and he will not discard the coaching philosophy which he believes to be the source of his success and accomplishments. His style is reminiscent of the AFL of the Jack Kemp, Daryl Lamonica, and George Blanda era. His play book requires a smart, agile quarterback with exceptional leadership qualities to execute effectively what Kelly intends to occur on the field.
Kelly is a millionaire who disdains, disregards, and ignores his critics. He is aloof, egocentric, and tactless. He also is delusional. He blames others and accepts no blame for his poor decisions. In his mind he has no responsibility for poor results instead blaming poor execution by the players.
It is what it is. Notre Dame ruled college football in the Rockne era because it had an exclusive feeder program staffed by parish priests, teaching nuns, and Catholic high schools. Notre Dame football had a unique advantage in the postwar Leahy era as a result of his service in the Navy, as recreation director in the Pacific, allowing Leahy to scout and offer scholarships promising a future college degree, a temporary life in Vetville, and national titles for Notre Dame. The advantages of Rockne and Leahy were lost in the Layden and Brennan years, respectively. The glory was reclaimed, temporarily, by Ara and Lou, because each was a motivational genius and play calling savant, but dissipated and lost during the bleak years beginning with Davie and continuing in the present with Kelly.
Perception always follows or lags behind the reality. The reality of today is that Notre Dame lacks any institutional advantages, is too pure and self-righteous to allow the corruption that permeates the SEC programs, and is burdened by the insufficiencies of a rigid minded head coach who prefers losing to winning if the wins require him to depart from his image of what has made him the success that he views himself to be.