Had someone told Notre Dame fans following the team’s Week 2 loss to Georgia that the Irish would beat USC (then ranked No. 4) by 35 points this season, well, they might have been surprised.
But had that person said ESPN college football analyst Paul Finebaum would compliment a Brian Kelly-coached Notre Dame team, he or she would have been laughed out of South Bend.
Six weeks, with Notre Dame 6-1 and ranked in the top 10 in both the AP and coaches’ polls, here we are.
Speaking on ESPN’s Mike and Mike in the Morning, Finebaum donned a Notre Dame helmet and sought forgiveness from co-host Mike Golic, a former Notre Dame player, as well as Irish fans.
“When you’re wrong, you’re wrong, OK,” Finebaum said. “And it’s pretty obvious I could not have been more wrong about Brian Kelly and Notre Dame.
“I know the Notre Dame family doesn’t want any part of me, but I’m here to offer whatever condolences … and I’m asking for absolution.”
— Mike & Mike (@MikeAndMike) October 24, 2017
Why is an ESPN analyst finally admitting that a top 10 team might actually be good newsworthy? Because Finebaum has become known for criticizing Notre Dame in recent years — especially Kelly.
Last season, after Notre Dame began the ranked in the top 10 but went 2-4 in their first six games, Finebaum called Kelly “a miserable human being.” Following the year, Finebaum called for Kelly’s firing.
This season, after Kelly snapped at a reporter following the Georgia loss, Finebaum doubled down, saying, according to a USA Today story: “Brian Kelly, to me, is a jerk … a punk. He’s closer to the end than he’s ever been. That is going to help expedite it.”
Finally, prior to Notre Dame’s 20-point road win over Michigan State, Finebaum picked the Spartans to win, calling Notre Dame “not that good.”
While this one complimentary gesture by Finebaum toward Kelly and the Irish likely won’t be enough to convince Notre Dame fans to forgive him, it speaks to the team’s dominant play of late. Clearly, it takes a lot to get Finebaum to swallow his pride and admit he is wrong.
“I have never been more proud to be a Notre Dame football supporter in my life,” Finebaum said, perhaps a bit tongue-in-cheek.
Now, if someone can just talk some sense into Colin Cowherd…
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