NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Sports

January 7, 2013

Profound influence

(Continued)

It wasn’t until he got to Cincinnati just six years ago that the prestige began to catch up to Kelly’s ambition. The Bearcats were in the Big East and they would get some of that ESPN exposure, and people had to start paying attention when he went 34-6 in four seasons.

“Its own ‘Rudy’ story”

When Notre Dame brought him aboard to replace Charlie Weis in 2009 — Kelly never did get to coach his 12-0 Cincinnati team in the Sugar Bowl because of his immediate commitment to the Fighting Irish — some of the happiest people in the country were the kids and coaches who had been such a big part of his life at St. John’s Prep in the 1970s.

“I remember watching ESPN one night and Lou Holtz (ironically, the last coach to win a national title at Notre Dame a quarter century ago) predicted that Kelly would be the next head coach at Notre Dame,” said Currie. “And he was predicting it about 18 months before Brian actually got the job.

“To me, Brian was already a winner when Notre Dame got him as a coach. It was surrealistic to see a buddy of mine, a former teammate at St. John’s Prep, get that job. Everybody at the Prep was unbelievably thrilled. He could’ve been named offensive coordinator or defensive coordinator and we’d still be bragging about him at the Prep. The fact that he was named head coach was icing on the cake.”

Currie is so excited about his ex-teammate taking Notre Dame to the BCS Championship that he toyed with the idea of renting out the Cabot Street Cinema in Beverly and inviting the St. John’s Prep football family to watch the game. “But I thought of it too late,” he said.

Meanwhile, Cronin will be skipping the national TV version of tonight’s game. He bought his ticket a while ago and was scheduled to fly into Miami today.

“It’s a nosebleed seat, but I don’t care,” said Cronin. “Brian doing all this stuff at Notre Dame — it’s kind of its own ‘Rudy’ story. This game is on my bucket list. I have to be there.”

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