Kelly spurns Eagles, will remain at Notre Dame

Kelly spurns Eagles, will remain at Notre Dame
January 12, 2013, 5:36 pm
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Brian Kelly isn't going anywhere.

Notre Dame announced Saturday afternoon Kelly, who reportedly flirted with the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles for the last few days, will remain in South Bend. His decision comes after an agonizing few days for Notre Dame fans, after the first report of Kelly interviewing with the Eagles surfaced Wednesday.

Earlier Saturday, it was reported Philadelphia was prepared to put all its efforts behind landing Kelly. But with Notre Dame starting classes on Tuesday and reportedly holding a team meeting Monday, Kelly's decision had to come quick. While he considered the NFL, Kelly ultimately wasn't ready to leave for football's highest level.

Like every kid who has ever put on a pair of football cleats, I have had thoughts about being a part of the NFL," Kelly said in a statement released by the school. "However, after much reflection and conversation with those closest to me, I have decided to remain at Notre Dame."

Likely part of Kelly's decision to stay was a desire to not uproot his family again. In his introductory press conference at Notre Dame in December of 2009, he spoke of how difficult that process was:

"You come home as a parent and you're going to tell your kids that they're moving and they love the friends and they love the community, and as we started to tell them, tears began to well up in their eyes," Kelly explained. "And (his daughter) Gracie came up to me, grabbed me, hugged me and said, 'Dad, I'm so happy for you. I know this has been your dream. And I'm sad for me just for a little bit. Is that okay?' And I kissed her, and I said, 'You know what, that's what is so magical about this is that my kids know that this was a dream for me.'"

Whether Kelly's dream actually was to remain at Notre Dame was called into question over the last few days. But when Kelly made that dream job remark, perhaps coaching in the NFL wasn't even on the table.

A shot at the NFL came into focus this week for Kelly. He would've done himself a disservice had he not listened to the Eagles, regardless of his intentions.

The Eagles' interest in Kelly was real and significant, just as it was for Penn State's Bill O'Brien and Oregon's Chip Kelly. But at the same time, the Eagles' goal of landing a college coach was a shot in the dark.

"We did so knowing that there was a remote chance that these coaches would leave their current posts," the Eagles released in a statement.

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While four-star linebacker Alex Anzalone decommitted from Notre Dame following the reports of Kelly's interview with Philadelphia, it's unlikely there will be any more negative impact on Notre Dame's 2013 recruiting class. Most members of the class voiced their commitment to Notre Dame regardless of its coach while Kelly's status was in limbo during the week.

Kelly also seemed to intimate in his statement his interest in the NFL wasn't a ploy to gain leverage in contract negotiations -- leverage which he probably didn't need. Chances are, Notre Dame will announce a contract extension for Kelly and his coaching staff in the coming days or weeks.

Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick also released a statement, detailing how he -- unlike legions of Notre Dame fans -- was never worried Kelly would leave his post as head coach at Notre Dame. And, too, it's worth noting Swarbrick was kept in the loop at all times regarding Kelly's contact with the Eagles -- so this wasn't a process done behind the athletic department's back.

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. We all look forward to whats ahead for Notre Dame football.