Brian Kelly left Notre Dame.

Last Monday night, the rumors of Kelly’s departure began to pop up like spam emails on a personal computer.

Destination: LSU.

The exit was pretty fitting of Brian Kelly—awkward, clunky and head-shaking.

The reports hit social media before he had told anyone in the football program.

His assistant coaches didn’t know. His players didn’t know.

One recruiter received a text while he was in the home of a recruit. He had turned off his phone to be respectful to the family he was visiting. When he walked out the front door, he turned on his phone and saw a coach from Kelly saying he’d accepted the LSU job.

That coach realized that everything he’d promoted in his sales pitch to that player and his family was no longer true. He wondered how he could ever face those people again.

He felt pretty stupid.

Many have shared that Kelly left a lot of people feeling that way.

Kelly then sent out a team message informing them of his decision to move on. Players received it, and immediately began to share it on their own social media sites.

They were not happy.

Kelly had told them he would meet with them the next morning at 7am.

Let’s just stop there was a second. Can you imagine the mood of the human beings walking into that room that morning? I mean, college kids who are awake at 7am are probably pretty grumpy anyway. But these are football players who are about to hear their former coach tell them he was giving up on them while their season was still going!

They were foul. They were angry, and…bitter.

Those who actually were in that room say Kelly arrived at exactly 7:00am, spoke for two minutes, and was back in a car headed back to South Bend International Airport for a flight back to Baton Rouge by 7:10am.

What he told them didn’t soften the hearts of his audience.

What Brian Kelly told the men whom he had been in charge of just hours before was that he no longer believed that a national championship could be won at Notre Dame, and he was leaving to go win one someone else.

And out he went.

Players know what this means—they know that major changes are coming. The position coaches they work so closely with, the person who sat at the kitchen table of their parents’ house…they were probably leaving too.

The feelings that poured out: disrespect, abandonment, anger.

Then a funny thing happened. These people who had finished a successful season only to be told by their leader that he didn’t want to be associated with them anymore looked around that room and said “this is about us now…any of us who want to be here.”

Turns out that was everyone.

Offensive coordinator Tommy Rees stood in front of those same young men and said (I am paraphrasing here) “I love Notre Dame, I want to be here and I am not leaving.”

His speech was short, it was passionate, and it was powerful.

And just so everyone knew exactly what he said, he let it be posted online.

The reality was that the Irish had a bowl game to play, and someone had to be in the coach of the team for that game.

Defensive coach Marcus Freeman was that man.

And in the hours that followed, Freeman went from being a coach on one side of the ball at Notre Dame to being strongly considered as an interim coach at Notre Dame to being the head football coach at the University of Notre Dame.

The boys in the gold helmets became unified behind Freeman and Rees in a way that was inspiring to watch.

Kelly had left Notre Dame, and he’d invited his coaches to come with him.

Not one accepted.

As a matter of fact, no one seems to be one-bit upset that the winningest coach in Notre Dame History was leaving. No players, no coaches, no recruits, no fans.

Not one.

Kelly said “I am leaving”, and Fighting Irish nation collectively said “don’t let the door hit your…behind…on the way out.”

LSU can have him.