Notre Dame Fighting Irish coach Mike Kelly came from humble beginnings

Notre Dame coach Mike Kelly talks to the media. (REUTERS)

Notre Dame coach Mike Kelly talks to the media. (REUTERS)

ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:49 AM ET

MIAMI GARDENS, FLA. - It was, by any definition, an odd and underwhelming debut to the big-time world of the U.S. college football bowl games.

Three weeks before the 2006 International Bowl, a lame and short-lived affair among the most meaningless of the bloated NCAA post-season schedule, Brian Kelly flew to Toronto to help promote the inaugural edition of an event that would last just four short years.

Kelly was just days into his tenure as head coach of the Cincinnati Bearcats and preparing to coach his first Bowl game, as irrelevant as it might have been.

He was gracious and patient with the Toronto media, careful not to sound too condescending when explaining the concept of an American bowl game being played in a foreign land. Far removed from the heavyweights of college football, few would have imagined that it was Kelly’s first step towards the most prominent stage on the sport.

It was clear even then, however, that while the coach was quite competent shilling for the Canad


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