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Kelly won’t give players option to buy into program

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — New Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly had a message for his players when they arrived back on campus this week for the spring semester: he doesn’t have time to ask them to buy into his program.

“We didn’t have time to have a big group hug. It was time to go to work,” he said.

Kelly, hired last month to turn around a program that just completed the worst decade in its storied history, said the Irish already are behind teams that went to bowl games and got extra practices. He asked players to buy in unconditionally to what he and his staff are telling them.

His message: “Have some faith and go to work.”

Kelly led Cincinnati to a 12-0 regular-season finish before taking the job at Notre Dame, which fired Charlie Weis after the Irish went 6-6 in the regular season for a second straight year. Kelly said he knows what is expected for a school that last won a national title in 1988.

“This is about winning championships, and that’s why we’re here,” he said.

Kelly said he’s given the players what he calls the Irish commandments, the Irish creed and the Irish covenant. He wouldn’t elaborate on what they are, saying he wanted to wait until the players had a better chance to learn them. But he said he hoped those would help shape the players.

Kelly also said university administrators would decide whether 20-year-old receiver Michael Floyd will face any punishment after receiving a citation for underage drinking in Minneapolis on Jan. 8.

Kelly said he’s already talked to Floyd about the need of making good choices being paramount. He said he plans to talk to Floyd again about accountability.

Kelly apparently believes his players aren’t in the shape he expects after they went through their first offseason workout on Thursday.

“I think we had seven guys who threw up before we got through stretching,” he said.

A news conference was held Friday so that Kelly could introduce his new staff. Kelly said he was looking for people who are capable of coaching more than one position.

“I want great teachers and great educators that can communicate across the board,” he said.

Kelly said the first thing he needs to teach the offensive players is to have an aggressive mindset.

“It’s not about anything else but scoring points,” he said. “This past year at the University of Cincinnati we were last in the country — dead last — in time of possession. But we were one of the most prolific scoring teams in the country. So it’s about aggressive mentality and about scoring points.”

Defensive coordinator Bob Diaco said the focus right now is the Irish getting into shape, not learning anything from a playbook.

“We’re not into defensive systems. We’re not into defensive fundamentals. We’re not into anything,” he said. “They’re into coach Kelly’s core principles for development. One of those, the major one right now, is strength and conditioning.”