GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.—Right now, all eyes are on No. 1 Notre Dame, just one win away from playing in the BCS National Championship.
And if you head down Highway 6, you’ll find an Irish flag that flies proudly outside one Fruita family’s home.
Although the storied program has one of the largest fan bases in the nation, this isn’t your average, run-of-the-mill group of Notre Dame Faithful. Rather, it’s the Colorado-based family of head coach Brian Kelly.
“It’s been pretty exciting to watch them turn it around and start winning games,” Brian’s younger brother Kevin said. “There’s been a lot of close ones and a lot of stuff thrown at the TV.”
After going 8-5 in his first two seasons at Notre Dame, and throughout a dramatic season filled with plenty of surprises, Brian has marched the Irish to a perfect 11-0 record.
Unexpected by many, they stand alone as the only undefeated team; however, Kevin had no doubts in his older brother.
“I’m proud of him,” Kevin said. “He’s doing a great job. As his record shows, usually in his third year is when he turns teams around that he’s coached. This is his time.”
Kevin’s wife, Chris, also noted Brian’s track record.
“The kids love him,” she said. “He loves the kids and he really instills good faith and ethics into them.”
Brian and Kevin were born and raised in Massachusetts in an Irish-Catholic family–which might make them a perfect fit for Notre Dame. But Kevin didn’t always think Brian would be coaching from the sideline.
“Brian was the big sports guy,” Kevin said. “When I was younger, I figured he would be a sports type of star. Playing football, baseball or hockey. Really, not until he moved on to Central Michigan, it looked like wherever he went he could do what he wanted to do. That’s when we kind of thought he could be the guy to bring a team to national championships.”
Kevin and his family with be at the Coliseum on Saturday, in hopes of watching Brian become just that guy. In fact, the first since Lou Holtz in 1988.