p(image-left). !/assets/19991/bkelly.jpg(Brian Kelly)! It’s finals week here at Notre Dame. Time’s up. Time to put the finishing touches on that 30-page research paper. Time to turn it in. For me, it’s time to wrap up my three-year creative thesis on Brian Kelly and Lou Holtz. Act One began in the summer of 2010 when I wrote "Who knew? The new Lou":http://magazine.nd.edu/news/16760/, then continued in the summer of 2012 with "The new Lou, Part II":http://magazine.nd.edu/news/28374-the-new-lou-part-ii/, and now, it’s time for the Final Act. When last we left our protagonist Brian Kelly, he was entering that magical third season as head football coach at Notre Dame. Would he truly become . . . the New Lou? Thus begins Act Three. p(image-right). !/assets/29897/louholtz.jpg(Lou Holtz)! When the 125th season of Notre Dame football began in September, if you combined the ages of Lou Holtz (75) and Brian Kelly (50), you got 125. In 1988, Lou Holtz suspended his starting running back for the last game of the season, the farthest road game of the year. In 2012, Brian Kelly suspended his starting running back for the first game of the season, the farthest road game of the year. In 1988, Notre Dame won the first home game of the season over a Big Ten opponent by kicking a winning FG with 73 seconds left. In 2012, Notre Dame won the first home game of the season over a Big Ten opponent by kicking the winning FG with 7 seconds left. In 1988, Notre Dame won at Michigan State 20-3. In 2012, Notre Dame won at Michigan State 20-3. In 1988, Notre Dame defeated their highest ranked road opponent (USC) by 17 points (27-10). In 2012, Notre Dame defeated their highest ranked road opponent (Oklahoma) by 17 points (30-13). Only two coaches in the history of Notre Dame have recorded 12-0 records — Lou Holtz in 1988 and Brian Kelly in 2012. (Fade in dramatic music as we reach the final scene.) In 1988, Miami was 37-5 in the 42 games played before meeting Notre Dame. In 2012, Alabama is 37-5 in the 42 games played before meeting Notre Dame. In 1988, Miami was the defending champion, winner of two national titles in the past five years. In 2012, Alabama is the defending national champion, winner of two national titles in the past five years. In 1988, Jimmy Johnson's winning percentage at Miami was .843 (43-8) before playing Notre Dame. After losing to Notre Dame, it was .827. In 2012, Nick Saban's winning percentage at Alabama is .837 (67-13) before playing Notre Dame. If Notre Dame wins . . . his winning percentage will be .827. Notre Dame won the 1988 National Championship game at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. Notre Dame will play the 2012 BCS Championship game at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florida. There are exactly 5 letters in the city names and 7 letters in the state names of those two locations. (Clouds part, sun beams in from above, symphony crescendos and then holds for one final note.) Brian Kelly and Lou Holtz were born 24 years apart. Their first seasons at Notre Dame were exactly 24 years apart . . . and it’s been exactly 24 years since Notre Dame won their last National Championship . . . . . . when I was just 24 years old. (Cue the fight song). GO IRISH!
_Ted Mandell is a faculty member in the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre. Author of the multimedia book_ Heart Stoppers and Hail Marys: The Greatest College Football Finishes (Since 1970), _he also filmed the documentary_ Inside The Legends, _following Lou Holtz in his final game on the sidelines during the 2009 Notre Dame Japan Bowl._