Brian Kelly defends Brian VanGorder, says staffer liked tweet by mistake

ByMatt Fortuna ESPN logo
Sunday, September 18, 2016

Brian Kelly says a program staffer managing the coach's account inadvertently liked a fan's tweet suggesting the Notre Dame head coach fire beleaguered defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder.

Kelly's official account, @CoachBrianKelly, liked a tweet from user @Kevin_Coughlan telling Kelly after Saturday's 36-28 home loss to Michigan State that it was time to shake up his coaching staff and fire VanGorder, the third-year defensive coordinator whose unit has surrendered 32 points per game during Notre Dame's 1-2 start.

"I have a number of people that manage my Twitter account," Kelly said during a Sunday teleconference. "Just obviously going through it, somebody unfortunately made a mistake as they were scrolling through, inadvertently hit it and just a mistake, an unfortunate mistake that was made by one of my staff members."

As for whether he is confident in VanGorder, whose unit ranks 104th in total defense through three games -- after finishing 37th and 69th in 2015 and 2014, respectively -- Kelly is standing behind his colleague.

"Oh, absolutely. Yeah, without question. That's not even part of the conversation," Kelly said. "It's really about the fundamentals of defense. ... I mean, this is not rocket science what we're talking about here. These are plays that we've got to continue to work on and fundamentally get better at.

"There's not a question about scheme. There's not a question about who's leading it with Brian. This is about coaching, communicating and teaching the fundamentals and getting our young players, those that don't have a lot of experience, better at execution."

The Irish host Duke (1-2) next Saturday.