On the blue tongue of Brian Kelly: "Hypocrisy at the highest levels of Catholic academia"

On the blue tongue of Brian Kelly: "Hypocrisy at the highest levels of Catholic academia" September 23, 2011

Did Notre Dame coach go too far during a recent f-bomb attack on national television?

Peter Finney, Jr., of the Clarion Herald newspaper in New Orleans, thinks so:

Just a pooch punt from the towering icon called “Touchdown Jesus” in athletic homage to Christ’s eternally upraised arms, Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly, with bulging carotid arteries and a limited vocabulary heavily skewed to four-letter words beginning in “f” and “s,” is the poster child for Catholic coaches gone wild.

And for hypocrisy at the highest levels of Catholic academia.

Anyone with a DVR, a cable subscription to ESPN and even a rudimentary level of ESP could have predicted what might happen when Notre Dame hired Kelly in December 2009 from the hinterlands of Cincinnati to resurrect a moribund football program whose last national championship was in 1988, before the dawn of the cell phone.

It wasn’t a question of if Kelly would implode. It was a question of when.

At $3 million a year, Kelly’s fiduciary responsibility at Notre Dame is to win games and justify Notre Dame’s $15 million a year deal with NBC, which somehow has found the university still marketable despite its miserable on-field fortunes over the last quarter-century.

But in a 23-20 loss to South Florida to open the 2011 season, Kelly served notice that his irrational sideline demeanor in Cincinnati, which often flew below the radar because of the limited audience, apparently is hard-wired into his personality.

In a series of sideline rants that would have made even George Carlin blush, Kelly spewed four-letter words at his quarterback who threw a red-zone interception. NBC’s cameras caught everything, as ABC used to say, “up close and personal.” No lip reading was necessary.

OK, so what’s the big deal? Aren’t these 18- to 22-year-old athletes big enough and tough enough to accept abusive language from a coach – foul-mouthed tirades they’ve probably heard since high school – and simply move on?

That’s not the fundamental question and totally misses the point, says Edmund Rice Christian Brother John Casey, a former secondary schools executive with the National Catholic Educational Association who now lives in New Orleans after having spent many years as principal of Rice High School in Central Harlem.

“We are an incarnational faith,” Brother John said. “How we act counts.”

Read the rest.

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment

32 responses to “On the blue tongue of Brian Kelly: "Hypocrisy at the highest levels of Catholic academia"”

  1. “Shout f*** at old Notre Dame …”

    This is just one more sad example of the coarsening of our society.

  2. I was just remarking to somebody this morning that all Franciscan University at Steubenville, Ohio, needs is a national class football team to have them replace Notre Dame as the pre-eminent Catholic University in the eyes of the secular in the U.S.A. They appear to be making great progress in their academic offerings, while keeping their fidelity to Christ and His church. Notre Dame self-declared their independence from Christ’s church in 1968, and I keep seeing a succession of bad results. This is just the latest public highlight after the Obama debacle.

  3. I love Notre Dame and ND Football… but the Gipper wasn’t a saint — he was kicked out of ND briefly for not attending classes, and there were NCAA violations under Lou Holtz which he most certainly new about, even if he wasn’t directly involved. So without condoning Kelly’s actions, let’s not view the past through rose colored glasses because it makes it harder to critique and improve our own times.

  4. An angry Irishman cursing? I don’t know if I quite believe that….
    We still labor under the delusion that collegiate sports is about school spirit or a “well rounded student” or some quiant early 20th century notion like that. It’s an extension of pro football, and a multimillion dollar business. It’s not about sportsmanship, it’s about winning. It’s really as one-dimensional as that. A very high percentage of the men who survive the selection process into leadership roles (or top players), are, by nature, testosterone-jacked psychos. I don’t think that’s the most effective way to lead, but it’s deeply ingrained in the culture of the sport.

  5. Wth the exception of the use of the “psycho” word I’m with “Kenneth”. It’s all about money, money and, did I say money! Winning at all costs to get TV ratings to justify NBC’s payout. NCAA football is the training league for the NFL. It has a very minimal academic rationale, if any. Catholic universities with big-time football and basketball teams swim in the same polluted waters as the big public universities.

  6. There isn’t a mutual exclusivity between being testosterone rich and a sewer mouth; Boston College’s Luke Kuechly, an absolute beast of a linebacker as one of the top tacklers in the nation this year and last, is known for a disciplined lifestyle that eschews swearing. The student has someting that he could teach this coach.

    The fact is that ND has become increasingly desperate to reverse its football fortunes of modenr history; just win, baby!!

  7. …edited!!

    There isn’t a mutual exclusivity between being testosterone rich and a non-swearer; Boston College’s Luke Kuechly, an absolute beast of a linebacker as one of the top tacklers in the nation this year and last, is known for a disciplined lifestyle that eschews swearing. The student has someting that he could teach this coach.

    The fact is that ND has become increasingly desperate to reverse its football fortunes of modenr history; just win, baby!!

  8. I do not see any difference between Catholic and public universities in this matter. Some coaches yell and scream (and swear) while others are composed. There are statistical winners and losers in both categories.

  9. After you invite Obama to speak and get honors at your university, there is no where lower you can go. Why would anyone not expect to have this same university hire a coach who would act like this? After all, it is clear that ND basically told the USCCB to F..off.

  10. I guess some people are just “type A”. People in our state often contrast Bo Pellini with Tom Osborne. Bottom line, they need to learn to keep a lid on it (though I don’t think Bo has lost it in public quite like this guy). They need to step back and tell themselves “Its. Just. A. Game.”

  11. Greta makes a great deal of sense when she says that after inviting Obama to its campus, ND can go no lower.

    Brian Kelly may curse but he did not invite Obama to speak at ND.

    Before ND fires Kelly for cursing, it needs to fire its president and replace him with a priest in touch with the magisterium of the Church.

  12. Donal:

    The real problem is that Notre Dame has hired an Irish Catholic. They need to got back to hiring coaches like that class-act, Presbyterian Ara Parseghian. (Maybe they would have more victories. too.)

  13. HMS:

    I certainly would have no problem if ND hired a coach who was not a Catholic. Football requires no adherence to orthodox Catholicism other than in matters of ethics.

    But the president of the university, if the school is to remain Catholic, should indeed be an orthodox Catholic or, if not, someone willing to run the school in accordance with orthodox Catholicism.

    Notre Dame has not had a good team since Obama strolled across the campus and took the podium. I suspect the team will need to put in a few more seasons of reparation for a sin not their own.

  14. Years ago, when I was in my teens, I let go a nasty one* in front of my mother (may she rest in peace). I realized that I had been using that type of language with my friends and that was bound to happen. We live in culture now where this type of language is all too common. Is anybody surprised this happened?

    *The word in question is in Spanish and it’s one of “7 words you can’t say in television” in Spanish. It also happens to be the same word Madam Albright used at the UN when referring to the Cuban pilot who shot down the Brothers to the Rescue plane a few years ago.

  15. Donal:

    I was just, as they say, “pulling your leg” based on an assumption about your ancestry (Irish Catholic?).

    Reparation for what sin?

    Really now, hope you are not attributing Notre Dame’s recent football team performances on God’s punishment for having invited and given an honorary degree to President Obama to the graduation in 2009.

    If so, the data doesn’t show it. It seems to me that there’s been a downturn for at least a decade. (The time of Charlie Weiss was not very glorious.)

  16. My real problem with the article is that it described the incident as something in “Catholic academia”.

    I’m sorry, but football is NOT “academia”.

    “Catholic extracurricular activities” would be more appropriate.

    Or, considering the role that college football generally plays these days, “Catholic unpaid NFL minor-league farm franchise”. I agree with Jack B. Nimble’s point about this.

    I’ll leave it to others to decide whether the epithet “Catholic” is appropriate, but I definitely quarrel with the “academia” part.

  17. HMS,

    I’m not blaming God in any way for Notre Dame losing to Navy, I THINK, for three consecutive years since Obama appeared on campus. And it is my deep hope that Navy wallops ND again this year.

    I’m as Irish Catholic as one can get but I will take a Presbyterian like Parshegian over the current president of Notre Dame any day of the week. Parshegian, to my knowledge, never did anything in public to embarrass other Presbyterians.

    I like Obama as a person but he should not appear on a Catholic campus for any reason in light of his preference for abortion. And he definitely should never be honored on any Catholic campus. I feel the same way about Pelosi and Biden and the rest of that crowd, and Pelosi and Biden, by virtue of their Catholicism, should know better than Obama.

    And to show that I am an equal opportunity know-it-all, any Republicans who may be in the same camp on the abortion as the aforementioned should stay away from Catholic campuses as well.

    In fact, I’m beginning to think that only people who agree with me on everything should attend Notre Dame games, as a measure of safety.

    Pray for Corapi, pray for Pavone and pray for Governor Cuomo’s ordinary, Bishop Hubbard of Albany, NY. And, I suppose, we should pray for Obama, Pelosi and Biden as well.

    Sorry for running on like this but abortion lights my fire.

  18. firscoeddie…”ND coach swears and some posters bring up Obama.. which is sicker?”

    Well since you asked, both ND and Obama are sick so it is a matter of degree. ND for its failure to stay true to Catholic teaching; for its failure to obey the local bishop when he told them not to bring Obama in and thus stay in tune with what all Catholic institutions have been told by the USCCB not to invite pro abortion speakers; and finally for sending to jail and continuing the prosecution of peaceful protestors when Obama was there.

    The priest and president of ND should have been removed and the university either accept a new president named by the USCCB, or should remove their Catholic identity. When nothing was done, it sent a strong message that the USCCB has not teeth.

    [Edited to remove irrelevant and offensive content — Ed.]

  19. And I have always been under the impression that people were in college to be educated for a future profession etc. Football should be secondary IMO—(not a fan, can you tell–not even when I was in college). However I don’t think that the coach yelling and acting like an immature adult helps anyone —players, fans, the college’s image. It’s a GAME! A game where men run into each other on purpose and get concussions! So no matter what the college or university, there is no excuse for a grown (?) man acting like he did—ND’c coach is not the only football coach to think he is so important that he can yell his players into playing better.

  20. pagansister, there are two issues here: 1. by your own rationale (college is for being educated for a future profession) then college football makes perfect sense. Though the odds aren’t great, most division I college players are holding out hope that they will make it to the big leagues. So college football (or as someone mentioned, unpaid minor leagues, to call it what it is) would be preparation for a career.
    2. College is, or should be, about furthering one’s education. That does not always translate to career prep. Plenty of college grads end up with careers unrelated to their area of academic study. And far too many students are funneled into college as if it were a trade school. And they are funneled out of college laden with debt and unprepared to face the world.

  21. Nothing Brian Kelly shouts on the sideline is nearly as shameful as what (“Rev.”) Richard McBrien spouts in the classroom (or commits to print for that matter).

  22. Pagansister..Greta, what has the swearing coach have to do with abortion?

    It is connected by the fact that the headline calls this a “Catholic academia” and as such, long before this episode, you had the president of the University who is also a Catholic priest opening defy the local bishob (and isn’t that what many here have been screaming about with Father Pavone who has not even been accused of anything wrong) and the clears statement from the USCCB in inviting a pro abortion speaker and also giving that speaker, Obama, honors. As Anthony 25 noted above, they have also had open dissent from the university led by the dissenter Richard McBrien. When you have this type of leadership, having a football coach screaming cuss words at this players seems to fit right in. Of course some would think that a football coach cussing on TV is worse that a priest defying the Bishop and the USCCB on something that is involved with the holocaust of 54 million children, but I do not find it any way proportional.

  23. Greta, I attempted to follow your logic but must say I con’t see a connection. Yes, it is a Catholic college—but you, IMO, have tried to bring it down to the abortion, which is another topic all together and IMO has nothing to do with the coach swearing at folks.

  24. A good friend of mine once left me with this thought “If you use THAT word to describe all the mundane things of life what do you have left to say when you’ve got a flat tire on the GWB during rush hour?”.

  25. Pagansister, grave sin in a person or an institution is like a cancer that spreads everywhere. By what mindset would anyone who sees a priest president and his “Catholic” University having publically told his bishop to butt out, ignored a Popal encyclical calling for anyone teaching faith to get a mandatum from the local bishop, and then a letter from the USCCB forbidding inviting pro abortion speakers onto compus expect that the football coach would not be infected by the same cancer. The univestiy itself is seperating itself from the Catholic faith with its ongoing dissent and outright refusal to place itself under the local bishop.

    You, in your opinion, might not agree that one who is constantly surrounded by grave evil will not see that infect the rest of the body or the organization, but if so, I would see you outside Catholic teaching where we are called not to receive the Eucharist while in grave sin and thus in need of reconcilliation. You cannot be surprised when the head of the body who is a priest and his university is infected with grave disorder, that its football coach would be a bastion of sanctity.

    Of course one wonders why anyone would worry about a football coach cursing when those he represents have trashed the Catholic leadership and teaching so strongly for so many years.

  26. Anthony #24: I totally realize that what one majors in in
    doesn’t always end up being what one does for a living afterwards. And it is a shame, but I agree, many end up graduating with huge debts. I fortunately had no debts when I graduated (oh so many years ago).

    Yes, I guess some of those college guys who play that all important game hope to be chosen to be on a pro team. Suppose you could say that they are preparing for a career. I have often wondered how much tuition from the non-athletes goes to support those all important football players who get “free” school so they can be on the football team.

    Greta #29: Your logic works for you—

  27. Pagansister, and I suppose your logic works for you. How about an example outside of faith…

    Enron had severe issues with upper management. It had an environment where rules could be broken and lies told. Greed ruled many in the organization. In that enviornment, would it have been much more likely to someone like the VP of marketing doing something that did not look good on national TV than someone who lived in an environment that had leadership who did things the right way and valued strong moral values? Yes, you can have a guy going off the reservation in a good strong organization, but shouldn’t the tone have been set when this football coach was hired that made he aware that this type of thing does not happen in this fully Catholic institution? It might have been if the leadership followed the mandates of the USCCB and the local bishop and the leadership had read the encyclical by Pope John Paul II on the mandatum and immediately advised all those teaching the faith at Catholic Notre Dame to submit their names to the bishop for approval or resign? And finally, in view of his actions on this video, should a fully Catholic University have called him in and said we expect a Press Conference to be called and for you to make a complete apology to the people of this university and for those who were offended by his actions and also once more and you will be fired based on the morals clause of the contract (hopefully it has one). But when you do not see a reason to obey the leadership of your church and think you know better than the Pope or local Bishop, then you should not call yourself Catholic.

    Some who have attacked Father Pavone are screaming he needs to obey but have yet to point out a single disobedient act. Here is clearly a priest who has made a long history of ignoring the Catholic Church but we do not hear many condemning him for this direct act of disobedience or the fact that his Catholic college has harbored and supported open dissent from settled Catholic teaching and they have direct contact with students in teaching them their faith. But he is supportive of Obama and this makes all the difference in the world to many Catholics. SAD

  28. Greta: ND, no matter what it’s religious affliation, finds that football brings in bucks from alumni—bottom line.(just like many, many other colleges). If this coach can make a winning team—that’s all that counts in the eyes of many of the college’s leaders, I expect. As for Obama being ask to speak—-this is off subject—but he is the President and IMO his personal religious beliefs shouldn’t be the criteria for asking him to speak at commencement. The graduates aren’t innocents. Though I have no idea what President Obama spoke about that day—I’m pretty sure it wasn’t abortion. Now, all that said—the coach should watch his mouth—as his cursing doesn’t make him a great example to his players. It only shows his lack of self control and maturity as a person. Who knows what his reputation was when he was hired? Who knows?
    As for big business—-lets face it—many colleges are just that—their football is a money maker for the school.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.