The Notre Dame football coach, Brian Kelly, has been the subject of controversy after he told reporters that his team would be “executing” opponents by running them over. After a reporter asked if this meant players were going to run over people in games, Kelly said he was joking and called the media “crazy.”

Brian Kelly, the head football coach of Notre Dame, is an excellent coach. He’s not a very funny guy.

The former Grand Valley State, Central Michigan, and Cincinnati coach attempted to make a joke in response to legendary college and NFL coach John McKay’s snappy retort, but he flubbed it royally. To make things worse, when pressed by the media, Kelly reacted badly, exacerbating his difficulties.

John McKay was a big-time coach with a larger personality.

John McKay was a very successful college coach who failed to replicate his success in the NFL. Despite his professional difficulties, he is a popular character due to his clever remarks.

From 1960 through 1975, McKay was the head coach of the USC Trojans. He had a 133-43-8 record in his half-decade at the Los Angeles school. The West Virginia native led his teams to three consecutive seasons of unbeaten play (1962, 1969, and 1972), winning the Rose Bowl each time. McKay won the “Granddaddy of The All” five times in all.

NFL Hall of Famers O.J. Simpson, Lynn Swan, and Ron Yary were among the 16 Consensus All Americans he coached. McKay’s USC teams were ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press poll three times (1962, 1967, and 1972), and he was named coach of the year in 1962 and 1972.

The expansion McKay was named the first coach in club history by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He coached the club for nine years, compiling a 44-88-1 record in the process. He made the playoffs three times, although the club finished 0-14 in his debut season.

While the precise date is lost to history, McKay gave the media his most famous remark, which Kelly attempted to recall, following one of his defeats. When asked what he thought of his team’s execution by a reporter afterward, McKay simply said, “I’m in support of it.”

According to Bleacher Report, additional McKay nuggets include, “We didn’t tackle well today, but we made up for it by not blocking,” and “Kickers are like horse dung.” They’re strewn around the place.”

According to Bleacher Report, additional McKay nuggets include, “We didn’t tackle well today, but we made up for it by not blocking,” and “Kickers are like horse dung.” They’re strewn around the place.”

Brian Kelly’s effort to imitate McKay’s phrase was a complete failure.

To begin the season, Brian Kelly’s No. 9 Notre Dame squad faced Florida State. At the conclusion of the third quarter, the Fighting Irish had built up an 18-point advantage, but the Seminoles stormed back. Kelly’s Irish escaped with a 41-38 overtime victory.

“What did you think of your team’s ability to resist Florida State’s remarkable comeback?” sideline reporter Katie George asked Kelly in the postgame interview.

It was a straightforward inquiry, and it wasn’t the best set-up for McKay’s famous remark. Kelly went ahead and did it anyhow, and that’s when the wheels began to come off. Kelly’s response, as relayed by ESPN, was as follows:

Execution is something I support. After tonight, our whole squad may need to be executed. We just did not execute properly.

Brian Kelly discusses his team’s performance against Florida State.

Kelly went on to praise Florida State’s perplexing two-quarterback scheme. He also said that he loves his 2021 squad, but that this close victory demonstrates that there is still a lot of work to be done.

The coach fought back as best he could, not mentioning the clumsy remark again until it was brought up in the postgame press conference. That’s when he began to truly sink.

Kelly chastised reporters for not being aware of the remark and not finding it amusing.

(From left to right) Brian Kelly and John McKay | Grant Halverson/Getty Images; Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Notre Dame’s close call against the Seminoles raised a lot of concerns about Kelly’s 2021 team. However, a reporter had to inquire about Brian Kelly’s clumsy effort at comedy.

“You mentioned something in your postgame interview after the game about executing your whole team,” a media member questioned during the postgame press conference. “Could you expand on that?”

The reporter had no choice but to ask the semi-ridiculous question. Kelly took the bait and went on a rant over his “funny” remark:

Oh, it’s a quotation from John McKay. I was just joking. It was all in good fun. Wasn’t it amusing?… I was talking about it and making a joke about it at the time. Why was it taken so seriously? Are you all insane? It’s a quote from John McKay, which he said after a game. I was making a joke out of one of his previous statements. I suppose no one wants to be amusing these days. So, if you want to go all out on it, please do so.

On Brian Kelly’s “joke”

Brian Kelly, hopefully, has learned two important lessons as a result of this event. The first is that, in this day and age, you must think before you speak, and jokes from the 1970s may no longer be as amusing as they once were.

The second lesson is that nothing is funnier than a joke that you have to explain.

Pro Football Reference and Sports Reference provided all stats.

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