Please don't be the first athletic director in school history to do so.
The only ND coach to make it to year 6 without winning a national title and/or having a perfect season by year 5 was Elmer Layden, whose WP was 33-9-3 (.767). After 2 more years, Layden's WP held fairly steady (47-13-3, .770) and is now 4th best in ND history. But he demonstrated himself unable to win a national championship, so ND upgraded to Frank Leahy, and the rest was history.
Granted, Kelly's 5-year record is better than the other failures: Terry Brennan was .640 (32-18), Joe Kuharich was .425 (17-23), Gerry Faust was .535 (30-26-1), Bob Davie was .583 (35-25), Ty Willingham was also .583 (21-15), and Charlie Weis was .565 (35-27). But Kelly will end this season below .700, even if we somehow win the crappy bowl game we're destined to be stuck in. His current WP is .688 (44-20), and that includes those 12 straight wins in 2012. He was 16-10 before that (.615), and 16-10 since then.
Kelly was good enough to get us to 12-0 in his third season, largely on the strength of a senior class of defenders recruited by Weis. And he was good enough to start 6-0 this year, which was really 7-0 given the stolen win at Florida State. But he hasn't been good enough to get beyond those marks, and instead both teams were exposed by humiliating defeats.
The end of this season was an epic fail with few parallels in ND history. A defense that gave up only 15 ppg in its first four games ended up with the worst scoring defense performance in ND history (29.3 ppg) -- even worse than the 2-8 team of 1956 (28.9) and the 3-9 team of 2007 (28.8 ppg). ND gave up 7 TDs in 2 different games for the first time in school history. And ND lost 5 of its last 6 games for only the 4th time in school history, with the other 3 teams finishing 2-8 (1956, 1960) and 2-7 (1963).
Yes, ND had a slew of injuries this year, and its depth was further hurt by the academic suspensions. But that does not and cannot excuse things like losing to a Northwestern team that finished 5-7 (after Kelly's colossal blunder of going for 2 after our last TD), or losing by 35 to our arch-rival and allowing their QB to throw 6 TD passes against us (something no other QB ever has done).
Sometimes you can tell how good a coach is by how he handles adversity. Weis was handed a horrendous talent shortfall in 2007, but he managed to compound it with inept coaching and led us to our losingest season in history. Unfortunately, Kelly's end-of-season coaching job ranks down there with Weis's.
The final results this year weren't an aberration. Kelly's 5 regular seasons have been 7-5, 8-4, 12-0, 8-4 and 7-5. What went up in 3 years has come right back down in 5. In bowl games, he's 2-2, losing to the only 2 strong teams we played. It is now guaranteed that this will be the 4th time in 5 years that Kelly's team has finished with a winning percentage below .700. Only 2 other ND coaches have had 4 such seasons -- Kuharich and Faust, the two with the all-time worst winning percentages.
Three years is usually enough to determine whether an ND coach should stay or go. Five years is always enough. Kelly must go, and his replacement must be an upgrade.
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