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Chip not the only Kelly on the NFL’s radar?

Jan 4, 2013, 2:40 AM EDT

Michigan v Notre Dame Getty Images

As college coaches like Bill O’Brien and Doug Marrone find themselves on the short list for several NFL head coaching openings, the lone defeated head coach of a BCS program was bound to find his name coming up in a few discussions.

But with Notre Dame’s biggest football game in the past 20 years less than a week away, seeing Brian Kelly‘s name come up in the conversation of college coaches primed to head to the NFL certainly raised an eyebrow or two.

The discussions started in earnest after CBS Sports’ Bruce Feldman tweeted that Chip Kelly wasn’t the only Kelly generating interest amongst NFL general managers looking for a new coach. That led to ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio running with the story, echoing Feldman’s sentiments while discussing the similarities between the head coaching job at Notre Dame and the top spot at an NFL franchise.

Florio even went on air today to discuss the report, adding some unique thoughts to the conversation.


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Usually discussion like this flies across a message board after an anonymous blogger discusses it. But Feldman and Florio — two reporters that have tremendous reputations (and disclaimer, have played a huge part in me being where I am today), turn this into something that’s more than just a water cooler discussion.

Personally, I don’t see Kelly leaving Notre Dame for a head coaching job. Just about any opportunity he’s given will likely be a step backwards compared to the responsibility and prestige he currently has in South Bend. Whether this story is the product of excellent agenting — remember Charlie Weis’ 10-year contract extension after the Giants started sniffing round? — or legitimate news, a few things have me thinking that Kelly has little interest in coaching on Sundays.

First, Kelly has always identified Notre Dame as his dream job. After 19 years as a head coach, Kelly jumped at the Irish head job as soon as it was offered to him, making his departure from undefeated Cincinnati an awkward situation after he left his undefeated team to recruit for a bowl-less Irish squad.

Secondly, Kelly has turned in the opposite direction of the similarly surnamed Chip, who intrigues NFL teams because of his reputation as an offensive innovator. When he took the job at Notre Dame, many expected Brian Kelly to bring a fast paced, up-tempo offense to South Bend. But Kelly has shown himself to be a coach fairly pliable in regards to scheme, and his offensive struggles the past few seasons stopped any offensive guru comments in their tracks.

Lastly, the educator in Kelly likely finds the college job more rewarding that any NFL position. Whether it’s the tough love he gives his players, as often noted by his red-faced sideline demeanor, or the development process he uses with 18-t0-21-year-old players, Kelly the college coach with a very plentiful fiefdom probably holds more sway than any position where he’d answer to a general manager and owner.

At a time like this, coaching candidates come fast and furious, with some reporters eager to throw something against the wall, in hopes that it sticks. Brian Kelly, the consensus collegiate coach of the year, deserves to have his name on just about any short list out there, especially after leading Notre Dame to their first championship opportunity in 20 years.

But I’m a long way from believing Kelly is on his way anywhere after laying the foundation of a potential Notre Dame dynasty. That’s a head coaching job that’ll leaving a legacy far more enduring than anything the NFL can offer.

  1. dickasman - Jan 4, 2013 at 3:31 AM

    I agree. First of all I don’t know what moron of gm would want to hire him as nfl head coach for what reason specifically but there are always a few and all it takes is one. I certainly would not want him coaching my bears. Give me teo, ill take him. I am not undermining what bks done this year by any stretch, I think he’s proven to be a great coach but he’s at the tip of the pinnacle. He just bought himself a few more years at nd for the few hard years he’s put in. Basically at nd you can and will make nfl money. Ask weis where he’s made his most money.

  2. 9irish - Jan 4, 2013 at 3:31 AM

    Nah…I don’t see it happening either. Not his style. I think they are two different animals, with the one advantage of pro is the lack of the recruiting cycle. It’s all football, 24/7/365. But I think he likes that, meaning he is a college coach, selling the greatest product ever.

    Who knows…maybe down the road, but I’d be shocked if he left this year. I think the NFL is interested in him, which doesn’t mean he is interested in the NFL. Great compliment though.

    Go Irish

    • dickasman - Jan 4, 2013 at 3:36 AM

      If he leaves, we won’t have to hire George O’leary this time that’s for sure. Btw, you should really think about adding a 6 in front of that 9. That would be like soooo totalllly hott n stuff!

      • bernhtp - Jan 4, 2013 at 10:18 AM

        Dick, I imagine you are hoping for a Notre Dame win just so you can watch Mike Golic strut in his micro thong. Personally, I will avert my eyes.

      • dickasman - Jan 4, 2013 at 12:51 PM

        I’ve already got one hand in the Vaseline jar just incase he turns out to be kinda hott. Gotta be well prepared. Debating whether this would be great time to get out my norelco crotch hair trimmer for synchronize shaving. I have a feeling I will probably have the sudden urge for immediate manscaping and possibly 2nd penis enlargement surgery, as if the first one wasn’t painful enough.

  3. dickasman - Jan 4, 2013 at 3:32 AM

    Second of all, Oregon is not nd and ck is not bk. makes sense for ck he’s gotta bounce ala Pete Carroll.

  4. bernhtp - Jan 4, 2013 at 6:54 AM

    Kelly has walked around the ND stadium and likes the statues. He ultimately wants one of his own. Bolting after a win on Monday night doesn’t get him one – not even close. Kelly also has zero NFL experience. The job is very different from college; just ask Lou Holtz. I expect Brian to stick around for the foreseeable future.

  5. mimefrog - Jan 4, 2013 at 9:23 AM

    I think he would adapt and succeed in the NFL, but I doubt he would want to right now.

  6. runners00 - Jan 4, 2013 at 9:31 AM

    So, our bags are packed and Florida is on the horizon and this story comes out.

    Look, Notre Dame brings a lot of competition with it. The Big Ten is down (although Urban will be a great competitor for a number of years). The Big Twelve is on its way to being picked over by the SEC. The Pac 12 plays no defense. And we have an amazing recruiting class that’s on its way to a revitalized but sleeping Indiana town that’s just south of Lake Michigan. Now, what a great way to start to break that up? You float a rumor indicating that Coach Kelly is on the NFL’s radar.

    I know, I’m a conspiracy theorist. I criticized the system when Syracuse and Pittsburgh were essentially recruited by ACC television (i.e. ESPN) which, not coincidentially hardly covered the story that Maryland and Rutgers were recruited heavily away from their respective conferences and into the Big Ten. Some of that was a reach. This makes sense to me. Notre Dame, with a good coach and a successful academic and athletic program, threatens the clients of ESPN: the ACC, Big 12 and Pac 12.

    I would just add that Coach Kelly is quite a talented coach. He has changed this program from one that neither blocked nor tackled to on that is as fundamentally sound as any in the country. He should be on the radar of NFL owners. He’s a great coach. But I have a hard time thinking that an NFL job would fit his personality and his interest as much as the Notre Dame job.

    • bernhtp - Jan 4, 2013 at 12:23 PM

      I’m at the airport now. Next stop: Ft. Lauderdale and the Miami for dinner with friends.

      • dickasman - Jan 4, 2013 at 12:58 PM

        Bern, let me know if you need a escort service recommendation. Also, don’t forget to visit the bangbros or inthevip headquarters while you’re there. Once in a lifetime opportunity babe, do not miss it!

  7. twebb2 - Jan 4, 2013 at 10:27 AM

    Keith, Thanks for addressing these rumors. Honestly, though, you never know what will happen when NFL teams flash boatloads of $$$ in somone’s face, but I hope that Kelly stays where he is for a long time.

  8. 1historian - Jan 4, 2013 at 10:33 AM

    Brian Kelly going to the pros makes about as much sense as Charlie Weis coaching college football.

    • 9irish - Jan 4, 2013 at 11:10 AM

      Very good analogy…couldn’t have said it better.

  9. nudeman - Jan 4, 2013 at 10:44 AM

    1) Funny thing is, of the two Kellys I think Brian is a MUCH better NFL candidate
    Chip might me a big success there, but it’s possible that he’s approach will flame out as “gimmicky”. Snapping the ball 23 times every 32 seconds in the NFL. Good luck with that. BK’s game is one of mental and physical toughness. That tends to work just fine.

    2) I love Florio and think he’s among the best and most level headed guy out there. And all he and Feldman are saying is that the BK is rising on NFL radars. I’ve yet to see one word suggesting BK is initiating conversation or even listening to the overtures. And I’d bet he isn’t.

    3) Zero chance BK leaves anytime soon. Never met the man but from everything I read he wants to be at ND and wants to be in the conversation with Knute, Frank, Ara, Dan and Lou.

    Until I read something about “there are talks between Brian Kelly and X team”, further conversation on this is silly.

    • iamnotacoolguy - Jan 4, 2013 at 2:18 PM

      This makes the most sense to me. At some point he may well jump to the NFL, but he has a great recruiting class coming in and has set up the program for long term success. It makes no sense for him to even consider bailing now. Sure he may be on the NFL’s radar, that doesn’t mean the NFL is on his radar.

  10. joeschu - Jan 4, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    Kelly preaches how he’s an educator. The NFL is about leadership and execution, but development is lower on the totem pole. Kelly has a much better platform to “educated and develop young men” at ND than he’d have in Cleveland or Buffalo. If he’s been genuine about his passion for educating men as players and as citizens, he’ll stay put.

    • joeschu - Jan 4, 2013 at 12:32 PM

      ugh… we need an “edit” button… “platform to ‘educate and develop…'”

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