Coach Brian Kelly has fifth-ranked Notre Dame in the national-championship discussion in his third season, with its best start in a decade at 7-0 and a big game Saturday at eighth-ranked Oklahoma (5-1).
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — An old saying goes that the third time is the charm. At Notre Dame, historically the third time has been the national championship. Or else.
Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian, Dan Devine and Lou Holtz each won his first national championship in his third season as coach of the Fighting Irish, while Knute Rockne finished his second straight undefeated season. The combined third-season record of those five: 50-2-1.
Coach Brian Kelly has fifth-ranked Notre Dame in the national-championship discussion in his third season, with its best start in a decade at 7-0 and a big game Saturday at eighth-ranked Oklahoma (5-1). So is it coincidence successful coaches at Notre Dame have won titles in Year 3, or is three years how long it takes a successful coach to get his players in place and put his imprint on Notre Dame?
“Maybe it’s a combination of both,” Parseghian said. “It could be a coincidence. But I think it reflects on your recruiting capabilities and abilities and recognizing what you need after your first year there and then being able to fill those.
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“I think Brian Kelly has done that masterfully.”
For the six other men who have coached Notre Dame in the post-Leahy era and haven’t won a national championship, the third season was the beginning of the end. They posted a combined record of 28-39 in that season. Terry Brennan, Bob Davie and Charlie Weis all had their first losing records, while Tyrone Willingham went 6-5 and was fired.
All were gone after five seasons or sooner.
Kelly, who has one losing season in 22 years as head coach, said at his introduction he had a five-minute plan for turning things around.
“Three years is pushing it in today’s society,” Kelly said. “So I would say that today you better get the thing moving in three years, because there’s not a lot of patience out there.”
Kelly said quarterback Everett Golson, who missed one game after getting a concussion Oct. 13 against Stanford, will start at Oklahoma. The Sooners are listed as 10-point favorites.
• Jerry Sandusky became a Pennsylvania state-prison inmate with his transfer from Centre County jail, the ex-Penn State assistant coach’s home since he was convicted in June. Sandusky, 68, was sentenced this month to 30 to 60 years for sexual abuse of 10 boys over a 15-year period.
• Oregon lifted the suspension for senior defensive tackle Isaac Remington, after prosecutors decided not to pursue a driving-under-the-influence charge against him. He missed one game.
• Meanwhile, Oregon and Ohio State have agreed to a home-and-home series. The Ducks will host Ohio State on Sept. 12, 2020, and visit Columbus on Sept. 11, 2021.
• Michigan running back Fitzgerald Toussaint, who pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle while impaired, has been ordered to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, pay fines and undergo random drug and alcohol tests.