American Football Wiki
Brian Kelly
Brian Kelly in 2019
Current position
Title Head coach
Team Notre Dame
Conference Independent
Record 70–36
Head coaching record
Bowls 5–5
Tournaments 11–4 (NCAA D-II playoffs)
0–1 (CFP)
Accomplishments and honors
2 NCAA Division II (2002–2003)
3 MIFC (1992, 1997–1998)
3 GLIAC (2001–2003)
1 MAC (2006)
2 Big East (2008–2009)
AFCA Division II Coach of the Year (2002–2003)
AP College Football Coach of the Year (2012, 2018)
Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year (2012)
Home Depot Coach of the Year Award (2009, 2012, 2018)
SN Coach of the Year (2012)
Walter Camp Coach of the Year (2012)
Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award (2018)
Big East Coach of the Year (2007–2009)
Career player statistics (if any)'

Brian Kelly (born October 25, 1961) is the current head coach of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Kelly previously served as head coach of the Grand Valley State Lakers (1991–2003), Central Michigan Chippewas (2004–2006) and Cincinnati Bearcats (2006–2009). He led Grand Valley State to consecutive NCAA Division II Football Championships in 2002 and 2003. Kelly's 2012 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team reached the 2013 BCS National Championship Game.

Early years

Kelly was born in Everett, Massachusetts, and was raised in a Catholic Irish-American family in Chelsea, Massachusetts.[1] He attended St. John's Preparatory School in Danvers, Massachusetts. His father was a Boston politician.[2] He was a four-year letter winner at Assumption College as a linebacker. After graduating from Assumption in 1983 with a bachelor's degree in political science he served as linebackers coach, defensive coordinator, and softball coach from 1983 to 1986.

Grand Valley State

Kelly joined the Grand Valley State University staff in 1987 as a graduate assistant and defensive backs coach for Tom Beck and became the defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator in 1989. Kelly took over as head coach in 1991. In his final three seasons the Lakers went 41–2, at one point winning 20 consecutive games. The Lakers went 14–0 in 2002 en route to their first national title and went 14–1 in 2003 when they claimed their second National Championship. Kelly was named the AFCA Division II Coach of the Year after each of these championship years.

In his 13 years as head coach at Grand Valley State, the Lakers won five conference titles and made six Division II Playoff appearances. Only in 1999 did Grand Valley State finish lower than third in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletics Conference under Kelly.

The 2001 team set 77 NCAA, GLIAC, and school records, including setting the all-time Division II scoring record, averaging 58.4 points per game.

His record in 13 years at Grand Valley State was 118–35–2.[3]

Central Michigan

Kelly became the 24th head coach at Central Michigan University after the departure of Mike DeBord following the 2003 season.[4] Kelly inherited a team with limited success. Central Michigan had won more than three games only once in the previous four seasons. CMU finished with a 4–7 record in 2004. In Kelly's second year at Central Michigan, he coached the team to a 6–5 record—the first winning season in seven years for the Chippewas. In his third season, the Chippewas posted a 9–4 record under Kelly en route to winning the MAC Championship and qualifying for the Motor City Bowl. At the end of the 2006 season, Kelly left to accept the Cincinnati coaching vacancy three days after CMU won the 2006 MAC Championship. Jeff Quinn was named the interim for Central Michigan's contest in the Motor City Bowl against Middle Tennessee. Kelly's record at Central Michigan in three seasons was 19–16.


Kelly was named Cincinnati's head coach on December 3, 2006, following the departure of Mark Dantonio. In an unusual move, Cincinnati elected not to appoint an interim coach and asked Kelly to assume his duties immediately by coaching the Bearcats in their bowl game. Central Michigan was also preparing for a bowl appearance, so while Kelly was in Cincinnati preparing the Bearcats, much of his staff remained at Central Michigan to coach the Chippewas. Following Central Michigan's 31–14 win in the Motor City Bowl on December 26, most of his staff joined him in Cincinnati, where they went on to coach Cincinnati to a 27–24 victory over Western Michigan University in that year's International Bowl on January 6. Cincinnati's victory gave Kelly the unique distinction of having defeated the same team twice in a season as coach of two different teams (Central Michigan had defeated Western Michigan 31–7 earlier that season).

In his first full season, Kelly led Cincinnati to a competitive position in the Big East; the Bearcats' second ever 10-win season (its first since 1949); and a Top 25 ranking. On December 5, 2007, Kelly was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bearcats to a 9–3 record.[5] Coach Kelly later led the Bearcats to a 31–21 victory in the Bowl over Southern Miss.

In 2008, Kelly led Cincinnati to its first ever outright Big East title with key wins over West Virginia and Pittsburgh. The Bearcats had never defeated either team in Big East conference play. Kelly also became the first coach to win all three of the Bearcats' traveling trophies—Template:Citation needed the Victory Bell (Miami [OH]), the Keg of Nails (Louisville), and the River City Rivalry Trophy (Pitt). The Bearcats played in the Orange Bowl versus the ACC champion, Virginia Tech on January 1, 2009 but lost 20–7.

After beginning the 2009 season unranked in all polls, Kelly's Bearcats reeled off 12 straight victories and finished the regular season undefeated. Going into the bowl season, they were ranked #3 in the BCS Standings and faced the Florida Gators in the Sugar Bowl. Kelly did not coach the team in the 51-24 loss to the Florida Gators because of his departure to Notre Dame.

Among the honors that Cincinnati football achieved in 2009 was the highest academic rating among teams in the top 10 of the current BCS standings, according to the 2009 Graduation Success Rates, released Wednesday, November 18, by the NCAA.Template:Citation needed Cincinnati, which was fifth in the BCS standings, checked in with a 75 percent NCAA graduation rate and a 71 percent federal government rate, the only team in the BCS top 10 to surpass the 70 percent plateau in both.Template:Citation needed

Kelly finished his tenure at Cincinnati with a 34–6 record.

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches
Grand Valley State (Midwest Intercollegiate Football Conference/Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) (1991–2003)
1991 Grand Valley State 9–3 8–2 T–2nd L NCAA Division II First Round
1992 Grand Valley State 8–3 8–2 T–1st
1993 Grand Valley State 6–3–2 6–2–2 3rd
1994 Grand Valley State 8–4 8–2 2nd L NCAA Division II First Round
1995 Grand Valley State 8–3 8–2 2nd
1996 Grand Valley State 8–3 8–2 2nd
1997 Grand Valley State 9–2 9–1 T–1st
1998 Grand Valley State 9–3 9–1 1st L NCAA Division II First Round
1999 Grand Valley State 5–5 5–4 7th
2000 Grand Valley State 7–4 7–3 3rd
2001 Grand Valley State 13–1 9–0 1st L NCAA Division II Championship 2
2002 Grand Valley State 14–0 9–0 1st W NCAA Division II Championship 1
2003 Grand Valley State 14–1 9–1 2nd W NCAA Division II Championship 1
Grand Valley State: 118–35–2 103–22–2
Central Michigan Chippewas (Mid-American Conference) (2004–2006)
2004 Central Michigan 4–7 3–5 5th (West)
2005 Central Michigan 6–5 5–3 4th (West)
2006 Central Michigan 9–4[n 1] 7–1 1st (West) Motor City[n 1]
Central Michigan: 19–16 15–9
Cincinnati Bearcats (Big East Conference) (2006–2009)
2006 Cincinnati 1–0 0–0 W International
2007 Cincinnati 10–3 4–3 3rd W 20 17
2008 Cincinnati 11–3 6–1 1st L Orange 17 17
2009 Cincinnati 12–0[n 2] 7–0 1st Sugar[n 2] 4 4
Cincinnati: 34–6 17–4
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (FBS Independent) (2010–present)
2010 Notre Dame 8–5 W Sun
2011 Notre Dame 8–5 L Champs Sports
2012 Notre Dame 12–1 L BCS NCG 3 4
2013 Notre Dame 9–4 W Pinstripe 24 20
2014 Notre Dame 8-5 W Music City
2015 Notre Dame 10-3 L Fiesta 12 11
Notre Dame: 55–23
Total: 226–80–2
     National championship       Conference title       Conference division title
Indicates BCS bowl, Bowl Alliance or Bowl Coalition game.
  1. Rankings from final Coaches' Poll.


External links