NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Sports

January 7, 2013

Profound influence

Mike Cronin appreciates the fact that he’s had some extraordinary sports-related perks in his life. The 51-year-old from Manchester has attended NFL Super Bowls, the NCAA basketball Final Four and The Masters, among other things.

Then one day in August 2011, he went to the Notre Dame campus in South Bend, Ind., and visited head football coach Brian Kelly, a fellow St. John’s Prep alumnus and Cronin’s former roommate at Assumption College in Worcester. Cronin had no idea what to expect during his hastily planned visit and, as it turned out, it was nothing like the memorable major sporting events he’d attended.

It was better.

Brian Kelly, who leads the 12-0 Fighting Irish into the BCS national championship game tonight against Alabama, made it the kind of day that would rival anything that Cronin had ever experienced.

“It was spectacular — one of those great days in my life,” said Cronin. “First we’re in his office, just talking, and then I get the tour. We’re in the locker room and they have those little (dressing) stalls that look like they did probably 70 years ago. And then I’m touching the ‘Play Like a Champion’ sign (leading to the tunnel and the football stadium) just like the players do.

“Notre Dame was starting (preseason) practice the next day, so Brian could’ve said he was too busy to see me,” added Cronin, “but he made time for me. I spent about two hours with him and it was as good as anything I’ve been to in my life.”

Kelly, 51, lived in Andover when he attended St. John’s Prep (Class of 1979) and has a University of Cincinnati helmet in his office. He’s justifiably proud of what he accomplished there, guiding the Bearcats to a 34-6 record in three-plus seasons as their head coach, including a 12-0 mark and a BCS Bowl appearance in the Sugar Bowl in 2009. The job he did at Cincinnati paved the way for his hiring by Notre Dame, so it was a turning point in his professional life.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

NDN Video
Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Tiger Woods: 1 on 1 3 Questions with Gary Payton: Kevin Love, Andrew Wiggins and Derrick Rose Players Only: Marcus Mariota's Course Load at Oregon How We Almost Got Johnny Cowboy Donald Sterling Loses The Clippers For Good - @TheBuzzeronFox Franklin talks leaving Vandy Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX Michael Jordan OK With LeBron James Wearing No. 23? - @TheBuzzeronFox The Cornhuskers have gone...Loco? McNabb: Two games is not acceptable for me Ortiz, Price Feud Is Upsetting To Children - @TheBuzzeronFOX MLB Trade Deadline Talk: Price, Stanton, Kemp Tony Romo will be a full-go for camp Teammate's Advice For Johnny Manziel & Josh Gordon - @TheBuzzeronFox Helfrich praises Mariota's commitment to improve Hillary Clinton Blamed Bill's Affair With Monica Lewinsky On Abuse He Suffered As A Child Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent First impressions of Giants' new up-tempo offense Athletic Gaines: Where LeSean McCoy, Kenjon Barner, and more prepare for NFL season
Special Features