Polished and prepared, Brian Kelly stepped up to the podium and glanced around the crowded room of reporters. In his first news conference since Notre Dame’s season-ending loss to Southern Cal in November, one of the most scrutinized coaches in college football was about to talk.

The purpose of Monday’s availability was to introduce the seven new assistant coaches Kelly recently hired to his staff. After going 4-8 in 2016, he guaranteed coaching changes and delivered. But that’s not all he discussed over 40 minutes.

On the night Notre Dame’s season officially ended at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum following a brutal 45-27 loss to the Trojans, gossip swirled that Kelly would either be fired or leave. He told reporters at the time that he'd “absolutely” be back in 2017. Athletic director Jack Swarbrick had said the same thing earlier in the season.

At this point, fans were ruthless and restless. A group took out full-page ads in newspapers calling for both Kelly and Swarbrick to be fired, outlining reasons it believed the program failed under the duo’s leadership. Despite vocal and public criticism, Kelly’s job was never in question.