(NECN: Mike Cronin) - Notre Dame and Alabama will play for the BCS National Championship, and one of the coaches hoping to lead his team to victory got his start right here in central Massachusetts.
Lots of eyes will be watching Notre Dame and Alabama play for college football's national championship Monday night. There may be even more interest in Worcester, Mass. because Notre Dame Head Coach Brian Kelly got his start playing and coaching at Assumption College.
"Just tough, intense, very focused,” says Paul Cantiani who coached Kelly.
Cantiani coached Kelly when he played linebacker for the Greyhounds. Cantiani says Kelly was hired as a defensive backs coach shortly after graduation.
"So Brian started on his football career there and from there he went to D3, now he's superman. There's no bigger job."
Melanie Demarais was director of student activities when Kelly was a student. Back then, she says she didn't think Kelly would be where he is now.
"I would say he rode under the radar. He was a kid that did the right stuff, never really got into any crazy shenanigans, but just a good person."
Demarais has kept in touch with Kelly through alumni events and attending Notre Dame games. Last year, Kelly returned to Assumption to deliver the commencement address. With Notre Dame and Assumption both being catholic schools, Demarais says the connection benefitted Kelly.
"We talk the same language, when we talk about students, when we talk about football and the things that we do here at Assumption and Notre Dame. He was prepared for this experience a long time ago."
The Fighting Irish are looking to complete a perfect season on Monday night. It's perhaps not a surprise who the Greyhounds will be rooting for.
"He's a proud Greyhound, but now we call ourselves the Irishhounds because we've got that mix of Notre Dame and Assumption."