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Official: Brian Kelly staying put at Notre Dame

Jan 12, 2013, 6:09 PM EDT

Brian Kelly

After nearly 72 hours of radio silence from South Bend, Notre Dame has announced that their head football coach isn’t going anywhere. Brian Kelly will remain at Notre Dame for a fourth season, ending an agonizing wait for Irish fans waiting to hear from either the university or its coach.

Word broke earlier this week that Kelly had discussed the Philadelphia Eagles vacancy with club leadership. From there, the rumor mill took over, with anonymous sources leading the media and thousands following on Twitter in a variety of directions. All while Notre Dame and its head coach stayed remarkably quiet.

“This week, I had an incredible opportunity to speak with one of the premier organizations in sports about becoming their head coach,” Kelly said in a statement released by the university. “Like every kid who has ever put on a pair of football cleats, I have had thoughts about being a part of the NFL. However, after much reflection and conversation with those closest to me, I have decided to remain at Notre Dame.”

How that decision came to be remains to be seen. Multiple reports, including one made here, have said representatives of Kelly have been negotiating with the university on a contract extension for the past few days, something athletic director Jack Swarbrick has said was forthcoming. Yet the battle may also have included altruistic motives, with some reporting that Kelly was also pushing for a wage increase for his coaching staff as well.

No financial terms or contract extension were announced. And while some reports have said staff members were staying in touch with their head coach while he was spending a few days with his wife and family before returning for the home stretch of recruiting, two members of Kelly’s staff have told me they found out their bosses plans via Twitter, just like the rest of those waiting for news.

“This decision was motivated purely by my love for Notre Dame and the entire Fighting Irish community, the young men I have the great fortune to coach, and my desire to continue to build the best football program in the country,” Kelly continued in the statement. “We still have a lot of work to do and my staff and I are excited about the challenges ahead.”

Coming off a 12-1 season, there were rumors that Kelly’s name would be on the short list of NFL teams looking to fill their vacancies. And while nothing came out of the Irish athletic department throughout this quiet spell, Swarbrick said he was in communication with his head coach as well as the Eagles, who asked for permission to speak with Kelly.

“I was always confident that Brian would continue to lead our football program, I am very happy to have that confirmed and share Brian’s excitement about what lies ahead for our program,” Swarbrick said.

“I appreciate the Eagles reaching out to request permission to speak with Brian, and I also appreciate Brian keeping me fully informed throughout this process.”

That process was one of pure uncertainty, and a vacuum surrounding the athletic department led to a lot of guessing. As Swarbrick showed during his decision to fire Charlie Weis and the coaching search that led to the hiring of Kelly, the athletic department was leak-proof, a far cry from the group-think efforts of the past.

With Kelly returning to meet with the team on Monday, there’s work to be done for the head coach. First, he’ll have to address a staff that was largely kept in the dark these past five days. While many assumed this was a leverage play from the start, that didn’t keep staffers from worrying about finding new jobs when nearly every vacancy at the college level has been filled. Kelly will also have to get back to work closing out his recruiting class. Whether or not it was directly influenced by Kelly’s discussion with the Eagles, the Irish lost the commitment of touted linebacker Alex Anzalone during this period of uncertainty, a tough blow to the No. 1 recruiting class in the country, but one that gives the Irish another scholarship to work with in these final weeks.

Kelly is currently in Connecticut at the Walter Camp Awards, where he’s receiving the Coach of the Year award. He’ll return to South Bend and welcome five new early enrolling freshman as the semester starts Tuesday.

156 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. dutch31 - Jan 13, 2013 at 10:51 PM

    Puma he may be a jerk, but I knew the jerk was staying at ND because he told the Eagles in the interview (which occurred in Miami) that he was staying at ND.

    Now lets hope he can become as much of a jerk as Saban, then maybe we can win a Championship.

    Go Irish!!!!!

  2. padomer - Jan 14, 2013 at 2:52 PM

    Yea I agree…time to put this thing away. He’s coming back and he’s a good (dunno if great yet) coach…

    The most resounding thing I take away from this is that he’s not who I thought he was, when I wanted him to be, badly. I know some would say boohoo get over it, but Notre Dame isn’t a stepping stone man. It’s not Boise State or Grand Valley State. Idk why but the Lou/Ara interview irks me more than dream job and this and that because to be with those Legends and gush about Notre Dame and all this “we” stuff…then interview for the purposes of having Nick Foles as your QB.

    Would I rather have Faust or a coach who wins but might not have a ND decal on his car, obviously the latter…but this is something thats gunna linger, for me at least. It almost changes the atmosphere from the glory, aura and myth that surrounds the program, to the business like atmosphere and sobriety of the NFL. Which in the end it is business, but not at ND.

  3. c4evr - Jan 14, 2013 at 4:24 PM

    Oh, I’m so relieved he’s staying.

  4. millersirish1986 - Jan 14, 2013 at 10:16 PM

    You cant blame him for looking at a job in the nfl….but lost in all this is the terrible play calling in the biggest game of the season and for that matter its been going on all season…why arent we seeing 2 back sets next to golson in the shotgun and where are the slant routes and bubble screens that get your young qbs confidence up…i know we have an offensive coordinator but kellys suppose to be the master mind of high powered offenses so why is he not doing the play by play…this offense needs to find answeres because they have to much speed and big play potential…i was screaming for the read option and they finally run it and get 20 yds and then what do they do, run it again the next play…they didnt make bama guess at all…please go find an offensive coordinator or take the reigns back yourself brian….as always GO IRISH!!!

    • c4evr - Jan 15, 2013 at 10:42 AM

      You must give Kelly a break, after all, he had to prepare his team for the title game AND prepare for the interview with the Eagles at the same time. It’s hard to juggle your schedule when there are distractions. It’s just business.

      • nudeman - Jan 15, 2013 at 10:46 AM

        And true

      • rcali - Jan 15, 2013 at 3:52 PM

        So good.

    • lrg51 - Jan 17, 2013 at 12:14 PM

      ND’s defense didn’t show up either…

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