his has been a terrible year to be a Ravens and Notre Dame football fan. What looked like very promising seasons for my two biggest sports passions outside of the "beautiful game" has fallen just short of a disaster for both.


For the Ravens, they started the season with such promise, running out to a 3-0 record and tied atop the AFC North Division before a four-game losing streak against the Raiders, Redskins, and two New York teams has put their season in the gutter.

For the Irish, it's been much, much worse. For a team whose biggest concern was supposed to be which of its blue-chip quarterbacks would lead it to the BCS National Championship, the Irish have gone 2-5 with wins over those perennial powerhouses Syracuse and Nevada. They lost to Texas in the opener in a squeaker, fell to Stanford and Michigan State in annual rivalry games, and suffered embarrassing losses to N.C. State in monsoon conditions as Hurricane Matthew ravaged the east coast, and Duke on our home field, when, well, when hell froze over.

Never in my life did I think I would ever see Notre Dame lose to Duke on the gridiron, especially at Notre Dame Stadium.

The best part of the last two weeks is that Notre Dame didn't lose last week and the Ravens won't lose today. It's sad when you look forward to bye weeks so you don't have to suffer through another defeat.

The first thing that most fans want to do is to fire the coach. Each team has terminated the contract of a coordinator — offensive coordinator Mark Trestman for the Ravens and defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder for the Irish — but as the seasons for both teams continue to slide, the focus is beginning to turn on the head coaches for each team.

It's a natural reaction and being the passionate fan that I am of both teams, I've found myself questioning the decisions of both coaches and beginning to consider who might be the best replacements for John Harbaugh and Brian Kelly. One scenario that's been running through my head lately is where Kelly gets canned at Notre Dame and Harbaugh leaves the NFL in his rear view mirror and heads to South Bend where he and his brother can reinstate the best rivalry in football — the Michigan vs. Notre Dame classic.

I've been coaching a long time and certainly am aware of the influence a coach, both positive and negative, can have on his/her team and fully understand the risk each of us takes to our employment when things aren't going so well. It's all a part of the game and the profession. But let's take a look at the careers of both coaches to see if that's where the problem lies for each team.

Since joining the Ravens in 2008, Harbaugh has lead the Ravens to 77 regular season wins, 10 playoff wins (two more than the closest competitors, Seattle and New England, who each have eight), one losing season, six of eight seasons in the playoffs (one of those years having the biggest payroll of players on injured reserve, including their multi-million dollar quarterback) and a Super Bowl.

They're in the midst of their second consecutive losing season but with plenty of time left to turn things around and win the division.

Joining the Irish following an extremely successful run at Cincinnati, Kelly has brought the Notre Dame program back to relevance. With 100 career wins (57 at Notre Dame), six bowl appearances in six years, a trip to the national championship game in his third year with the program, and multiple prestigious coaching awards like the Eddie Robinson, AFCA, AP, Home Depot, Walter Camp, and the Paul "Bear" Bryant Coach of the Year, you'd be hard pressed to find someone with the same amount of success at the NCAA Division I level, especially with the student athlete restrictions that many of their competitors don't have to deal with.

It's easy to fall for the knee-jerk reaction and call for a coach's head when things don't go your way. It's even worse when you're the head coach at two storied and successful programs like the Ravens and Notre Damel. If you really take a close look at the success that these two coaches have experienced since taking over the helms at their respective teams, is there really anyone better to whom we could turn to lead our teams toward the light?

The great football coach Lou Holtz once said, "A lifetime contract for a coach means if you're ahead in the third quarter and moving the ball, they can't fire you.

Let's give these guys a chance to finish the drive.