Sports

Kelly ties Rockne atop Irish all-time wins list

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Brian Kelly opened his Notre Dame coaching career with a home victory against Purdue in 2010, and on Saturday he matched Knute Rockne for the most victories in school history with another win over the Boilermakers.

The No. 12 Fighting Irish’s 27-13 win over Purdue was Kelly’s 105th victory at the school, which matched Rockne’s victory total from 1918 to 1930.

There is a caveat, however, as the NCAA ordered the Irish to vacate 21 victories from the 2012 and 2013 seasons as part of sanctions related to academic misconduct. The NCAA denied an appeal in February 2018. So, as far as the NCAA is concerned, Kelly’s record stands at 84-39 in 12 seasons.

But don’t tell that to Notre Dame fans.

“I think it takes a lot of things to be in place for that to happen, right?” Kelly said Saturday. “Consistency, leadership, alignment, all of those things have to come together to get to this point. We’re going to play our rival [USC] and they’ve had a number of different head coaches at their university. You know I’m talking about our rival on the West Coast.”

On Monday, the Trojans fired Clay Helton, the third time they’ve let a coach go since Kelly’s tenure started at Notre Dame.

“This is not to smear them at all, I’m just saying it requires consistency to get to these marks,” Kelly said. “We have it with our leadership, we have it with our athletic director and we’ve had it in the coaching because we have alignment. That’s helped a lot in being consistent and winning football games.”

Notre Dame is enjoying one of its most successful stretches in program history. The Irish are 36-5 since the start of the 2018 season and trail only Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State in terms of winning percentage during that stretch. Saturday’s victory was its 26th straight at Notre Dame Stadium since 2017, the longest winning streak in the program’s modern era.

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