Many old Notre Dame fans remember the last time the Fighting Irish were a national power.
The younger generations of Irish fans have not been able to experience the glory years. All they have come to know is pure mediocrity.
As bowl season nears, the question on the minds of many Irish fans is:?When will the Fighting Irish return to being a national power? When will Touchdown Jesus smile? When will the golden dome sparkle?
Now on their fourth coach since the legendary coach Lou Holtz left, I would argue that the Fighting Irish have finally found their man, someone who has been a proven winner at the college level.
They were lacking this in the previous three coaching eras.
Brian Kelly's resume offers Irish fans reason for optimism, despite their struggles this season. He isn't about showing off Super Bowl rings or individuals. Kelly is about team, and representing Notre Dame, the old way, much like Holtz and Parseghian did it.
Kelly has changed the attitude and culture of the program, unlike the past couple coaches.
Coach Kelly is the sixth-winningest active coach in college football with a winning percentage of .747. Kelly also ranks seventh in career victories with 171. He has won at every level, including conference and national championships.
Kelly coached at Grand Valley State University for 13 seasons from 1991 to 2003 and led them to back-to-back national championships in 2002 and 2003. He amassed 118 wins during his tenure there.
Coach Kelly then headed for Central Michigan University, where he guided the Chippewas to 19 wins over three seasons from 2004 to 2006.
From there, he turned Cincinnati into a highly ranked and well respected team at the highest level. Kelly coached the Bearcats for three seasons, leading them to 34 wins and two straight Big East Conference titles and BCS appearances.
Kelly's work this season has been carefully scrutinized and has had its share of controversy. Despite those issues, Kelly has the track record of a proven winner at the college level.
Though this year's 7-5 record is a far cry from where Notre Dame used to be, unexpected victories, such as the one over an undefeated Utah team, suggest progress has been made.
With a large number of Notre Dame fans in this region, a more powerful Notre Dame football team could make local sports coverage more interesting in the years ahead.
Controversies that have been largely focused primarily on the Penn State and Pitt programs might shift over time to more frequently inject Notre Dame into the mix.
For Irish fans, the future looks brighter now than it has for some time. With a single hiring, Notre Dame has rejuvenated its loyal fan base.
Hallahan is a student at Penn State Altoona. This is his first submission for Voice of the Fan.