The pain had reached excruciating levels on several occasions throughout the 2011 Notre Dame football season.
That Irish head football coach Brian Kelly waited until June to do something about it shows just how full and non-negotiable his schedule is year-round.
Finally, on Tuesday night -- after addressing the participants at the Notre Dame Fantasy Football Camp in South Bend -- Kelly boarded a plane for Philadelphia to take a major step toward making the chronic aching in his lower back go away.
On Thursday morning, he underwent surgery to ease a herniated disc. A press release issued by the Notre Dame sports information department Friday said Kelly was expected to return home this weekend. He was also expected to make a complete recovery by the time the Irish kick off fall camp on Aug. 4.
According to Brian Hardin, Notre Dame director of football media relations, Kelly's medical advisers had urged him to have the surgery shortly after the team closed its season Dec. 29 at the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, Fla.
But the Irish had five critical weeks of recruiting to address. And the window between the end of the 2012 recruiting cycle and the start of spring practice was peppered with speaking engagements and commitments Kelly didn't think it was proper to back out of.
After spring football concluded, the schedule was full with more speaking engagements, so Thursday was the first -- and last -- real opportunity to get it done without the recovery bleeding into fall camp.
Even then, Kelly will have to take it easy through some upcoming events on the Kelly Cares Foundation schedule, including Tuesday's Football 101 event at Notre Dame and charity golf events in Grand Rapids, Mich., and Bridgman later this month.
Notre Dame's football camps are also scheduled for this month.
The Irish open the 2012 season Sept. 1 in Dublin, Ireland, against Navy.
Staff writer Eric Hansen:
Notre Dame football: Kelly undergoes surgery for herniated disc
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