After losing 31-14 to Alabama’s No. 1 in Friday’s university soccer play-off semifinal, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly wondered what the Irish had to do to win a national championship.
I think everyone should continue with the story that Notre Dame is not good enough, said Kelly after the Rose Bowl game, presented by Capital One. Discover the results of the competitions in which Alabama participated all year round. I think we’re gonna have to change the story a little. This team [Notre Dame] fought and had a chance to win.
The Irish have dropped to 0-7 in BCS and New Year’s Six Cup matches since 1998 and have scored 161 points less, with seven losses each representing at least 14 points. Kelly wondered, question after question, why Notre Dame couldn’t keep up with the elite athletes. He freaked out, reminding reporters that the Irish beat Clemson this season when he was number one, saying there was no physical difference between his team and Alabama.
According to Kelly, it wasn’t about dropping the ball or not having enough players to compete with Alabama. It was about the coins. They were playing on the perimeter. They have [Associated Press] University Football Player of the Year [DeVonta Smith], who made dynamic matches. We fought, we were all involved.
We keep coming back here, and I’m sorry if you don’t like it, or if the national media don’t like it, but we’re going back to work. We will continue to recruit and reposition ourselves. We had a chance. You’ve seen the game. I’ve seen the game. And I don’t take it personally that these questions keep popping up like we have to reinvent ourselves. We played sports today.
Hat said games in the space of Alabama stars such as Smith, who caught seven passes for 130 yards and three touchdowns, were the hallmark of the game. The Crimson Tide had 227 meters after the catch in that game.
I’ll be honest, we were a little shy, he said, and he said the Irish thought they could pack the perimeter players better than they could. We’ve closed our legs and you can’t do that against very skilled players. You have to be aggressive and attack players in space with this ability. If you close your legs, they’ll disappear.
The Irish have played three of the four Heisman Trophy finalists this season, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Alabama quarterback Mack Jones, and Kelly said Tide’s running back Najee Harris is as deserving as the other winners.
If they’re in the field, no one can get them out, he said. Tell me, who’s involved with them? Everybody’s got the same problem I have hanging out with these guys. I don’t have a problem unique to Notre Dame.
Contrary to Alabama’s impressive numbers, the recipients of Notre Dame won only 67 yards after being captured by Ian Book in 27 finishes.
Honestly, we just needed more firepower, and we didn’t have enough firepower, Kelly said. Here’s how. There’s no bigger story than a few plays, and they’ve done a few more plays than we do today.
As his frustration grew, Kelly thanked the reporter for congratulating him on a successful season for the Irish and was looking forward to the day when he would have the chance to use the microphone.
We’re going to keep coming back here, and anyone can keep saying that Notre Dame isn’t good enough, Kelly said. You know what? They’re gonna have problems because we keep winning, we keep coming back here and breaking through. And then I’m gonna feel really bad at the press conference. It’s awful.
He ended with a few words of consolation for Notre Dame fans.
Notre Dame Nation, you can sleep now, Kelly. Charge the batteries and we’ll return to this position. … We’ll keep working. In low season we go back to the gym and hopefully come back to Dallas next year [place of the semifinals of the CFP].