In years past at Notre Dame, a stroll around the locker room and you'd notice a consistent theme that is the same at a lot of other college football programs - the offensive lineman have their lockers around their fellow hogs, the quarterbacks are grouped together, and on, and on down the line position by position.
According to the Indy Star, that small detail is one of many that Brian Kelly reflected on after their disappointing 4-8 season in 2016. Kelly ultimately decided to mix things up and not divide the locker room by position at all come January. Instead, you'll now find a top-rated wide receiver from California next to a walk-on linebacker from Ohio, or a defensive back from Florida next to a quarterback from the East coast.
The reason for the change? Kelly said that he didn't feel like players were connecting with each other outside their own position groups like he wanted them to. So Kelly and his staff reorganized the locker room, and they did so by considering individual personalities and leadership abilities. He started with the offensive line, who he felt had a lot of natural leaders in the group, and spread them out so they could affect more teammates outside of their group.
“I’ve learned a lot about how important it is to help players communicate with each other and not do it through text messaging and their cellphones."
“When they have somebody new next to them, they communicate with them. If it’s somebody they know and they go to meetings with them and practice with them, they have the tendency to pick up their cellphone and almost don’t talk to each other. So I think it’s something that I learned about the players that I’m coaching that it’s something I’ll continue to do.”
To shake things up further, Kelly shuffled the lockers again before practice began in August.
Head here to read more, including input from players on how it's brought them closer together as a team, and how that has shown up on the field in their 5-1 start.