Notre Dame football coach Kelly was about 15 minutes late Tuesday for his weekly press conference to preview Notre Dame's upcoming game against Boston College.
"Sorry," Kelly said of his tardiness. "I was exercising my right to vote."
What Kelly--a former politician-- won't do as his 9-0 Irish prepare to face 2-7 Boston College Saturday, is talk politics---football politics that is. Kelly said Saturday "he doesn't care" who wins in games involving Oregon, Alabama and Kansas State. Those three teams are also undefeated and currently ahead of Notre Dame in the BCS Standings.
So why won't Kelly politic for his team?
Because “it doesn’t help,” Kelly explained Tuesday. "The only thing that helps is winning football games. The way the BCS is set up right now, if you have more than two undefeated teams, you can't control it."
Kelly says in two years when four teams are headed to a playoff and will be chosen by a selection committee, you will likely see him politic more. For now, he's taking the same approach as he has in the past.
Kelly was in a similar position in 2009 when his Cincinnati team was undefeated and on the outside looking in. But that was Cincinnati, this is Notre Dame. Did Kelly really think it was possible an undefeated Notre Dame team could be locked out of the national title game when he took the job here?
“If you told me that Alabama and Oregon were also undefeated in addition to Notre Dame, I would say there was a chance we could get left out," Kelly conceded.
Still most people can't comprehend the concept that an undefeated Notre Dame wouldn't play for a national title. Either way, Kelly says Notre Dame back in the conversation is good for college football because it's always good having the school with the highest graduation rate showing it can get the job done on the field as well.
He does know that Notre Dame's season has resulted in a positive response from Irish fans.
“There’s an immense amount of pride from our Notre Dame alums," Kelly said. "It’s part of who we are. There’s a lot of pride. There are a lot of followers who are very proud of their football team and the way they are playing right now.”
Kelly says he doesn't spend much time thinking about whether 'we are back or not back' as a program. He says his team just plays on Saturday and "we kind of let other people decide if that's the case or not."
Kelly is proud of his team too but now its time to take things to the next level.
“We have the heart of a champion," Kelly explained. "Now we need the head of a champion."
Kelly says his team feels good to be able to rally from 20-6 down to beat Pittsburgh last Saturday but his team now needs to take the next step.
“This is new territory for them and they are learning, Kelly said. "They clearly understand they can't play the game any less than their very best if they want to win.”
A Massachusetts native, Kelly will have a homecoming Saturday against the Eagles.
“Always great to go back," Kelly explained. "I remember my first trip back when I was at Grand Valley State. A lot of requests for tickets. I got that out of the way. I'm excited to get back there.”
And despite just a 2-7 record, Kelly praised Boston College.
“Extremely well coached, especially on the defensive side of the ball," Kelly said. "Our players understand that if they don’t play their best, they can get beat.”
Kelly said Saturday that BC "would play out of their minds" in this game.
--Offensive tackle Tate Nichols is lightly out for the season with knee injury.
--The flu is still going around the team. it knocked George Atkinson out of the Oklahoma game and slowed down Louis Nix in the Pitt game. Kelly says its getting better though. Nix is back to being himself.
---Kelly on Clay product Daniel Smith: “Physical blocker. Big kid. We wanted to be able to use what are now his talents. With think it will be more in terms of catching.”
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