his extremely ill-advised comments to the Observer this month, when he said Kelly's 5-year performance has been consistent with his expectations upon hiring Kelly. Unfortunately, that's very unlikely, given that Swarbrick made those comments on the heels of the Southern Cal catastrophe, whose historic dimensions haven't been fully vetted here.
The final margin of the USC game, 49-14, is tied for 13th on the list of most lopsided ND losses in history. But the 3rd quarter margin of 49-7 stands as the 6th biggest deficit ND ever has faced in a football game -- and the 2nd widest deficit ever in the 3rd quarter of any game. The only wider deficit that early in a game ended up as ND's worst-ever loss, 59-0 to Army in 1944, which was 46-0 after 3. (There were only halves, not quarters, for ND's losses to Wisconsin in 1900 (54-0) and 1904 (58-0), and ND trailed Army 35-0 after 3 in 1945 and Miami 37-7 after 3 in 1985.)
Kelly thus joined Gerry Faust as the only non-interim ND coaches in the last 110 years to face an in-game deficit of 42 points or more. Davie's worst was the 42-3 halftime deficit at MSU in 1998 (45-23 final), and Willingham's and Weis's worst were 38-0 losses at Michigan (Weis also lost 38-0 to USC).
And arguably, Kelly's loss to USC was the most embarrassing in ND history, given the mediocrity of the opponent. Even after that game, USC was ranked only 24th by AP (and the playoff committee). Since the advent of the AP poll in 1936, ND never has lost by 35+ points to a team that finished outside the top 20, and just once by that wide a margin to a team that finished outside the top 10. Army was No. 1 in 1944 and 1945; MSU was No. 2 in 1951 (beating ND 35-0); in 1956, ND lost to eventual No. 1 Oklahoma 40-0 and No. 3 Iowa 48-8; in 1985, Miami finished No. 9 (but was No. 2 before the bowls); in 2003, Michigan finished No. 6; and in 2007, USC ended No. 3 and Michigan No. 18.
As jt would say, "Ara had blowouts too, SOND." But only one Parseghian loss was remotely comparable to Kelly's USC debacle -- the 40-6 loss to Nebraska in the 1973 Orange Bowl, which was 40-0 in the 3rd quarter. But that Nebraska team entered the bowl 9th and finished 4th, after having won the previous 2 National Championships. USC 2014 was the worst team in at least 110 years to beat ND by 5+ TDs.
The USC embarrassment wouldn't be as depressing if Kelly had a better record to offset it. Instead, this is the 5-year record that has met Swarbrick's stated expectations:
* a .688 winning percentage (.071 below Devine's 5-year WP, which is the lowest among NC-winning ND coaches)
* 16-10 (.615) in his last 26 games, after going 16-10 in his first 26 and 12-0 in-between
* 4 out of 5 seasons with 4+ losses and a WP below .700 (no NC-winning ND coach ever had more than 2 such seasons in his first 5)
* 3 out of 5 seasons with 5 losses and a WP below .620 (no NC-winning ND coach ever had more than 1 such season in his first 5)
* 1 out of 5 seasons ranked in the final AP top 20 (no NC-winning ND coach ever had fewer than 3 such seasons in his first 5)
* a 6-13 record against all teams ranked in the final AP top 25
* a 2-6 record versus teams ranked in the final AP top 10
Kelly won't be able to improve on any of those stats even with a win over LSU, which is currently No. 22 in AP but will surely fall from the rankings with a loss to ND. An ND loss, on the other hand, would drop Kelly's overall WP to .677 and his record since January 2013 to 16-11 (.593) -- worse than his 16-10 start, and right in the neighborhood of the ND careers of Davie, Willingham and Weis. It also would drop his career Division I record to 96-43 (.691) after 11 seasons, with only 2 of those 11 seasons featuring fewer than 3 losses.
Will Swarbrick continue to say Kelly meets his expectations after a bowl loss? If so, then we must seriously question Swarbrick's fitness for his own job.
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