In a line of work that can be very unstable at times, one constant has remained: the presence of Mike Brey on the Notre Dame sideline.
Among ACC coaches, only Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski have been at their posts longer than Brey. And like Boehim and Krzyzewski, Brey has enjoyed consistent success with the Fighting Irish, winning less than 20 games only four times and missing the postseason just once. The season they finished outside of the postseason happened to be their first in the ACC (2013-14). All the Irish have done since then is make it to back-to-back Elite Eights in 2014-15 and 2015-16.
Brey now enters the 2017-18 campaign on the verge of history: he is twelve victories shy of overtaking Digger Phelps as the program’s leader in wins. Even more impressive: it took Phelps 20 seasons to get to his total of 393. Tom Noie talked about Brey’s pending accomplishment in the South Bend Tribune as well as the adjustment from the Big East tp the ACC, noting that while the path hasn’t always been easy for the Bethesda, Maryland native, bigger things may yet be on the horizon.
“The ACC energized me again,” Brey said. “It was like taking a new job without leaving. That helped me stay fresh and keep me on my heels.”
Notre Dame has pushed a lot of ACC teams on theirs. The Irish have played for an ACC tournament championship in two of the last three years. They won it all in 2015 and came within a late Colson sprained ankle of winning it again last March…Brey and his staff have what many consider a top five recruiting class set to sign in November.
There’s a lot to like about the program right now.
Brey has this program where he wants it. It’s HIS.
Brey didn’t show his hand when talking about when he might step away – he’s “only” 58 – but coaches with his track record usually get to leave on their own terms. It’s safe to say that if he’s able to sustain the success he’s enjoyed over the first seventeen years, we might see Brey roaming the Irish sidelines for years to come.
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