Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE
One of the key differences between the 2012 season and the first two of Brian Kelly's tenure at Notre Dame was getting to know his own players better.
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish stumbled to 8-5 records in both of Brian Kelly's first two seasons in South Bend, and it didn't seem like the team was buying into Kelly in the same way players did at his previous stops. However, he got the team on his side last offseason, and it's helped start the Irish on their way to an undefeated season.
ESPN's Ivan Maisel sat down with Kelly, and chronicled how he turned around the program and got the players to buy in on him, both as a coach and as a person:
"They didn't know me well enough," Kelly said. "Not their fault. My fault. You'd want a response to my comments [like], 'That's Coach. He has high expectations. He's demanding this.' No, it was the other way. 'Coach doesn't trust us. He didn't recruit us.' That made it clear to me I was not doing a very good job with our players."
Kelly, who had a rigorous promotion schedule at the beginning of his tenure as the head coach at Notre Dame, cut back his schedule drastically, and spent a majority of that freed up time with his players.
The Fighting Irish and Alabama Crimson Tide square off in the BCS Championship Game on Monday, Jan. 7, in Miami, FL. The Crimson Tide are currently 10 point favorites over the Irish, according to Oddsshark.com.