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Syracuse vs. Notre Dame: Kelly & Shafer Share a Unique Coaching Quirk

Brian Kelly and Scott Shafer have a unique history squaring off against one other, which they'll do once again this weekend.

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

When the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Syracuse Orange square off Saturday, it will be just the seventh meeting of the two teams’ storied histories, but there are strong familiarities between the two head coaches. First, listen to Brian Kelly talking about what he expects from Scott Shafer’s usually disruptive defense.

As the ACC Network points out, Kelly and Shafer have actually played one before. Not only have they coached against one another twice but they did it twice in one season...with different teams.

In 2006, Kelly was the head coach at Central Michigan when the Chippewas met up with Western Michigan and Shafer, the defensive coordinator. Then, after the regular season, Kelly took the job at Cincinnati and coached the Bearcats in their bowl game where they took on, yep, Western Michigan. For the record, Kelly came out on top both times.

It always comes back to the MAC.

So we know Kelly is watching Syracuse, but is Shafer watching Notre Dame? Actually, Shafe's been looking at Notre Dame for a very, very long time.

In his Tuesday teleconference, Shafer said Ohio State, Michigan and the Fighting Irish, in that order, were his favorite teams to root for growing up. From 1967, the year Shafer was born, to 1985, Notre Dame finished in the top 25 12 times, had an average year-end ranking of 6.7 and won seven of the 11 bowl games it played in.

"I kind of rooted for them a little bit more because Coach Holtz was an Ohio guy and had dealings with so many of the big kids from the state of Ohio," Shafer said. "So for me that’s kind of the way I always looked at Notre Dame."

Good to know now that these are the schools that Shafer would probably leave for if they called, though, let's be honest, if any of those schools want our head coach, something very good has happened. So it'd probably be worth it.