Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly is among those college football coaches who prefer not having their players’ names stenciled on the back of their uniform.
It’s all about the team, not you.
To those Irish fans sickened over Sunday night’s wild 50-47 double-overtime loss at Texas and now waving bye-bye to any chance for a national title, step back, take a deep breath and exhale slowly.
News flash: Notre Dame remains in the College Football Playoff Final Four hunt. I kid you not.
The Irish have resume builders remaining on their schedule, and they still fit the one-loss precedent set by the playoff committee, thankfully.
In 2014, Ohio State lost to Virginia Tech in Week 1. The Buckeyes then ran the table and made the playoff with one loss. They also won the national title.
The key is to not lose to a non-Power 5 school.
Notre Dame plays Michigan State in two weeks, then Stanford and USC later this season. Navy, Virginia Tech and Miami could all be ranked by the time the Irish face them.
If they finish with one loss, they’re likely in the playoff discussion.
That’s the furthest thing from Kelly’s mind.
“We evaluate from week to week. Clearly we’ve got to coach better. We’ve got to play better, and we’ll continue to do that,” he said during Tuesday’s news conference.
The Texas opener could also benefit Kelly’s team.
You saw a high-energy squad put 50 points and 517 total yards on his Irish — including 237 on the ground — and average 6 yards per play.
Those Longhorns could be a nine-win team, and if that’s Notre Dame’s only loss, the selection committee would look at its resume even more favorably.
Beware of “trap games,” however, like Saturday’s home opener with Nevada, a bowl team last season.
“The message to the team (Monday) was about closing and finishing. In hard-fought games on the road against quality opposition, you gotta finish,” Kelly said. “That’s what we did not do in this game. We didn’t finish and that will be a ‘watch word’ for this group as we move forward.
“Again, I like their effort, I like their fight.”
The Irish trailed Texas by 17 points and clawed back to lead 35-31 late in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t hang on. According to Pro Football Focus, they had 24 missed tackles in the game, and many resulted in big plays.
Kelly would not single out any guilty individuals by name.
“This narrative that it’s all the defense’s fault is just Monday morning quarterbacking,” he said. “If we get a better punt, if we flip field position, if we make a catch or a throw, we’re talking about some different things.”
Wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr. suffered a concussion early against Texas and remains game to game. Kelly won’t name his starting quarterback until later in the week, though DeShone Kizer was more productive against Texas on Sunday.
Can the Irish bounce back, emotionally? That’s the big question. Some players were in tears as they left the field in Austin. You would’ve thought this was a playoff game.
“It’s what they’re programmed really to do,” Kelly said of being resilient. “When does a fan get over it? Wednesday? Thursday? Our guys gotta get back to work now!
“We had 24 hours to think about it, watch the film, grade it, and then we move on.”
There you have it. Welcome to the minefield. Watch your step and stay in one piece these next 11 weeks.