This was … an interesting attempt at humor.
Notre Dame survived a serious scare in their season opener Sunday night, beating Florida State 41-38 in overtime after coughing up an 18-point second-half lead. Head coach Brian Kelly was visibly frustrated after his No. 9-ranked Fighting Irish were nearly upset in their first game of the season.
“I’m in favor of execution,” Kelly said to ABC sideline reporter Katie George after the game. “Maybe our entire team needs to be executed after tonight.”
The quote quickly went viral across social media Sunday night. Kelly was later asked to clarify, and downplayed his odd attempt at humor.
“It’s an old John McKay quote,” Kelly explained, according to ESPN. “I was kidding. It was tongue-in-cheek. It wasn’t funny?
“I was talking and making a joke about it. It was taken serious? Are you people crazy?”
Kelly was referring to when McKay, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach, was asked about the team’s “execution” in their 1976 debut season. “I’m in favor of it,” McKay said at the time.
The Irish were up 18 in the second half when Florida State quarterback McKenzie Milton, in his first start since suffering a devastating knee injury with UCF, led the team on a stunning comeback to tie the game in regulation. FSU had a chance to take the lead in overtime, but kicker Ryan Fitzgerald missed a 37-yard field goal.
On the play before, Fitzgerald made a much longer kick, but Seminoles head coach Mike Norvell iced Fitzgerald as he challenged the play, ostensibly to give him an easier kick. The challenge was successful. The second kick was not.
Notre Dame kicker Jonathan Doerer hit a 41-yarder on the next possession to win the game for the Irish.