You never know who you might meet during an ESPN Car Wash.
Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly visited the Bristol campus Thursday night and Friday morning for more than a dozen interviews.
He was taking advantage of the Fighting Irish’s bye week and visited during a short break in an East Coast recruiting tour.
Just before an interview in the Green Room of the Digital Center on Friday, Kelly learned he had some visitors who know all about South Bend, Ind.
ESPN Production Assistants Amara Parseghian and Justin Brown work in the Screening Room, helping to assemble highlights among other duties.
They also are Notre Dame grads: Parseghian — a relative of former Fighting Irish legendary coach Ara Parseghian — is from the Class of 2009; Brown, a former Notre Dame defensive end, finished in 2008.
Kelly greeted each warmly during a break in the Car Wash, which included a live appearance on Mike & Mike In The Morning with co-host Mike Golic — another ND alum and father of Kelly’s current players Mike Jr. and Jake Golic.
Of all ESPN’s programming, Kelly said Mike & Mike “has to be the first show for me.”
Kelly said of radio host Mike Golic: “Mike’s great. He’ll give you an opinion. He loves his kids and he’s a great supporter. Mike Jr. is playing for us, his oldest. Jake’s had a couple of injuries, unfortunately, broke his arm and has a serious back injury.
“They’re what you’d expect: great kids. Listen, they’ve got personalities like their dad. They’re going to do OK for themselves.”
Kelly is focused on returning Notre Dame, 4-2 and on a four-game winning streak entering an Oct. 22 home date with USC, to national championship contention.
Even though Notre Dame has NBC as one platform to help with recruiting, he values a chance to use ESPN’s outlets, too.
“Notre Dame has to get out there. We can’t sit behind the desk,” said Kelly, who led Notre Dame to an 8-5 finish and a bowl victory in 2010. “Just like the other programs, we have to take this great opportunity as well.”
When Kelly was leading the University of Cincinnati to football prominence from 2006-2009, he also made an ESPN visit.
“I love the hustle and energy around the live studio events. As a football coach, you’re on live and you have to be ready to go,” he said.
“That’s the same kind of atmosphere around the live shows.”
A native of Chelsea, Mass., Kelly starred at linebacker at Assumption College (Worcester, Mass.). After graduating from Assumption in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in political science, he served as an assistant football coach and head women’s softball coach linebacker coach from 1983-86.
He turns 50 on Oct. 25, just between games against USC and Navy.
What he learned coaching at Assumption still resonates, Kelly said.
“On my first job, I remember someone saying focus on the job you have. Don’t worry about what might happen later, or you might not have the job you have.”
Wherever he’s coached, his ” goals were always about improving the program, improving the team and not, ‘In 10 years, i want to be the coach of the New England Patriots.’ I’ve never thought in those terms. I’ve always thought in the present.”
After suffering stunning losses to South Florida and Michigan, Notre Dame has downed Michigan State, Pittsburgh, Purdue and Air Force in succession.
He’s taking things one day at a time, but Kelly likes what he sees in his revitalized team.
“Down 0-2, you have to come back with confidence and poise. We’ve shown that the last four weeks, especially winning twice on the road [at Pittsburgh and at Purdue],” Kelly said.
“I’ve always felt the last two things, when you see those come alive, you’ve got a chance to be pretty good.”