Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said he spent too much time fund-raising last season and not enough time overseeing the football team.
"It f--ked up last year's team," Kelly told Bleacher Report in a story published Thursday.
Notre Dame was considered one of the biggest underachievers in football last season. The Irish were ranked No. 10 in the preseason but went 4-8 in 2016, losing seven games in the fourth quarter.
"I was the absent professor," Kelly said. "I wasn't paying attention to the details that we needed. There were internal issues that -- if a guy is on it, and he's doing his job as the head coach, he would've seen those things early. My flawed philosophy was, We're going to score points early while we're figuring it out on the other side with a young defense. Well, that didn't happen. We gave up way too many points early, we lost three games, and now we're in trouble."
Kelly fired defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder after a 1-3 start, but that did not solve the team's problems. After the season there was a massive staff shake-up. Kelly brought in six new assistants, including defensive coordinator Mike Elko, offensive coordinator Chip Long and special teams coordinator Brian Polian. He hired former Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees, 25, to coach the quarterbacks.
This year, Kelly said he will be making the big calls.
"They are going to defer to me when it comes to the quarterback decision, when it's a big question," he said.
In the wake of last year's disappointing campaign, the changes come after Kelly, for the first time in his career, met with every one of his players after the season.
Kelly told The Associated Press that the message was simple. "We (the coaches) weren't hard enough on them. We weren't demanding enough," Kelly said.
They also told Kelly they wanted him around more and involved in all aspects of the team.
Over the winter, for the first time, Kelly attended the players' 6 a.m. strength and conditioning workouts, and made a point to eat more meals at the training table.
"When you change your own role you have different relationship with the players," Kelly said. "Whereas I was maybe more of the hammer, if you will, when it came to our players, I have set that up within our program where the level of accountability is being shared by everybody. And so I don't have to be that guy that is the heavy on every single player.
"So it allows the guys to feel that they can come to me and I'm approachable and they can play for Brian Kelly on Saturdays. 'I want to play for Coach. Coach really cares about me.'"
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.