Tom Colton Hopes for a Championship Title in 2018 for the Fighting Irish
For Tom Colton, 2016 was the worst year for the Fighting Irish football team. To say that they delivered a dismal and lackluster performance would be an understated observation. They delivered an embarrassing performance, at least, in the opinion of Tom Colton. If you haven’t been following college football, here’s the long and short of it: The Fighting Irish ended the season with a 4-8 performance; the worst finish since Brian Kelly took over as head coach in 2010 (and the worst record since 2007).
The entire team and coaching staff experienced a huge shakeup during and after their humiliating season. First, Kelly fired Brian VanGorder, the team’s defensive coordinator four games into the season. Next, Mike Sanford, the team’s offensive coordinator left after the season to join Western Kentucky, serving as its head coach. And then, DeShone Kizer (starting quarterback) and Malik Zaire (backup quarterback) both left the team, also after the season. Kizer, for the NFL Draft; and Zaire, to play for the Florida Gators.
Mike Denbrock, who was the team’s offensive coordinator before he relinquished his position after the2014 season for health reasons, and who then returned to coaching the receivers, also left for, ironically, an offensive coordinator position for Cincinnati.
During this time, the rumor mill was abuzz with talk of Brian Kelly leaving Notre Dame; perhaps to beat the school in announcing that he had been fired, which never happened. Instead, Jack Swarbick, who is the school’s Athletics Director, announced that Kelly wouldbe retained—news that received mixed reactions from fans, with some heaving a sigh of relief, like Tom Colton, and others wishing for a better performing coach. (A lot of the fans and even media analysts felt that Kelly had been neglecting his coaching duties for one reason or another).
The shakeups proved to be auspicious, after all. Because 2017 saw better plays, with the team ending the season ranked 11th from the previous season’s 26th. Now, if you’ve been following college football like Tom Colton has for years, you would not have missed one small fact about the team’s previous plays: they start off strong and end poorly. Most of their scores were from first quarter game plays, with scoring dwindling down as the game progresses. And, their offense appears to disappear. Now here’s the exciting bit that everyone hopes will produce better results in the 2018 season, Jeff Quinn taking over as offensive line coach. Kelly, who has worked with Quinn in previous years (even before Kelly hired him as an offensive analyst in 2015), believes that Quinn’s expertise in the offensive field will have a positive influence on the team and how they play.
For now, everyone waits with bated breath as they await the official start of the 2018 season. The first game will be on September 1, with the Fighting Irish playing against the Michigan Wolverines.
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