Fighting Irish Losing Brey … A Master of College Coaching

Ken Cross

February 21, 2023 at 10:59 pm.

Notre Dame will have a major chore in replacing head basketball coach Mike Brey as he stepped down from the Fighting Irish on Jan. 19.  However, he said that he is not quitting as a college basketball coach.

Not only is Brey a stellar coach, he is an even better person. Brey has been on my “Marching to Madness” college basketball podcast on several occasions to talk about the game and his Fighting Irish.

On Saturday, Virginia head coach Tony Bennett wanted the Cavaliers to acknowledge Brey before the game, but Brey declined.

“I’m good; we don’t need to do that,” Brey said, “I’m really close with Tony and have the utmost respect for him.”

Bennett talked about his respect for Brey and how the Fighting Irish coach had proliferated many positive projects inside the game.

“I really appreciate Coach Brey and whatever his future holds,” said Bennett. “He’s really a good man and I want to acknowledge that because it’s hard to last in this game. It is and he has done that.”

It’s been a tough year for Notre Dame after the Irish defeated Rutgers and Alabama to get to the Final 32 last season where they lost a 58-53 decision to Texas Tech. Currently the Irish are 10-17 overall with a 2-14 record in the ACC.

This season does nothing to put a blemish on Brey’s Notre Dame tenure. He is currently 482-276 as the Irish leader through his 23 seasons and he has a 581-328 overall record in his 27 seasons which started at Delaware where he put up three consecutive 20-win seasons.

His Irish were in the Elite Eight in both 2015 and 2016 and he has added 19 seasons where he collected at least 20 wins.

Brey always handles situations with class, as he congratulated Kihei Clark on his afternoon and on breaking Virginia’s all-time assist record.

“He said he had watched me develop through the years,” explained Clark. “I appreciate the love and the praise I get from a lot of the coaches that I get from the ACC. I know that we have a lot of highly touted coaches in this league.”

Virginia paid its respect to Brey as a successful and fortuitous opposition coach by giving him a bottle of Irish whiskey as a gift for the success he has had in becoming the winningest coach in Fighting Irish history.

“I will divulge that tonight,” noted Brey. “Tony and his program are the model for college basketball. Like a lot of people in this league, we haven’t had much luck against them.”

This came on Saturday as Virginia edged Notre Dame, 57-55, as Dane Goodwin missed an open three-pointer from the left wing that would have given the Fighting Irish the win.

“We had our shots,” said Brey. “I’m disappointed. That’s kind of been our season. We’ve gotten there. Virginia made some big-time plays when they had to. They’re a very confident group, especially with Clark.

Bennett’s respect for Brey summarizes the gift and how his stepping down is not only a loss for the Fighting Irish, but for the ACC in general.

“The impact he has had at Notre Dame and on the game of basketball, he has served on a ton of committees, the NABC Committee, and he has promoted changes within our game and he is a great spokesman for our game and the success he has had at Notre Dame is remarkable,” Bennett stated.