ND notebook: Kelly brushes off NFL rumors

976569.png

ND notebook: Kelly brushes off NFL rumors

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Only a few days before kickoff of the BCS Championship, the NFL is the furthest thing from Brian Kelly's mind.

As a slew of NFL coaches were fired following the conclusion of the regular season a week ago, Kelly's name was thrown out as one that would interest some teams -- including the Bears -- if he were keen on jumping to the next level. When asked on Saturday, Kelly didn't offer any hints about overtures from the NFL, adding that every inquiry is directed through his agent.

"It's flattering if there is interest, which I don't know that there is," Kelly said. "But again, that is such a secondary topic for me right now, it's all about this game."

If Kelly is thinking about bolting, he certainly didn't intimate it on Saturday -- and it would come as a surprise even when one gets beyond the usual coachspeak of a press conference. As a successful college coach who, by some observer's accounts, has the intangibles necessary to coach in the NFL, the rumors will be there, even if there's nothing backing them at this moment.

"When I took the job at Notre Dame, I think I said it was a dream job," Kelly explained. "But I never went around day to day anything about being the Notre Dame head coach, because the job that I had in hand was what I was thinking about. And I think that's the same thing with the NFL.

"I think from my perspective I've got the best job in the country, NFL, college, high school, whatever. I just look at the place that I'm at and thankful for the opportunity that I have."

Kelly striving for Alabama's success

Nick Saban doesn't like the throw the D-word around, but a third title in four years would firmly slap a dynasty label on the Tide. Just as Kelly said earlier in the year he hoped to establish the kind of dominance at home Bob Stoops has at Oklahoma, he's hoping to see the kind of year-to-year prosperity established by Saban at Alabama.

RELATED: Irish RBs ready to make or break BCS Championship

"We're talking about historic success," Kelly said. "We're not talking about somebody that wasn't ranked last year -- Notre Dame -- or at the start of the year. Your program is defined in consistency, and Alabama is that model. I concede to that. It's where we want to be."

Notre Dame hasn't won back-to-back titles since the 1940s under Frank Leahy, while Ara Parseghian's two championships were seven years apart. No team has won back-to-back titles since Nebraska in the mid-1990s (although USC supporters would contest that).

It's not easy to do, but Saban's on the cusp of doing it -- and Notre Dame, obviously, wants to get to the point where it's feasible for them as well.

"We want to be back here next year," Kelly said. "I think there's been some commentators that have talked about, is Notre Dame for real? Well, for me we're for real because we're here. We won all of our games; that's clear. Where is Notre Dame going to be as it relates to the consistency thing? And that's why I'm the head coach and that's why I want to be the head coach, because I want to show we can do this consistently."

Coming out of the woodwork

The holidays were an interesting time for Notre Dame players, who returned to their friends and families only a few weeks away from playing for a National Championship. Offensive lineman Chris Watt, who grew up in a family that supported the University of Illinois, said the whole experience has "been kind of surreal" while center Braxston Cave said he's heard from distant, distant relatives trying to snatch up tickets for the game.

Notre Dame players get six tickets for the game, and Manti Te'o's using all of them for his family, although with five siblings and two parents, someone might've had to stay home.

"I think every individual who plays in this game is contacted from family members that they haven't met yet," Te'o said.

Cave, in his fifth year at Notre Dame, won't have any friends coming down to South Florida for the game, though. Recognizing his envious position, the center grinned: "All my friends have jobs now. They couldn't take time off."

Preview: Eastern Illinois, Southern llinois in action today on CSN

montell_goodwin.jpg
AP

Preview: Eastern Illinois, Southern llinois in action today on CSN

College basketball is back on CSN on Saturday as two local teams will be featured in live conference matchups.

In the first matchup at 11 a.m., Eastern Illinois will host Austin Peay in an Ohio Valley Conference clash on CSN+ while the second matchup has Evansville hosting Southern Illinois in a Missouri Valley Conference game at 1 p.m. on CSN.

Eastern Illinois (9-8, 1-3) is coming off of a conference loss to Murray State. Junior guard Montell Goodwin leads the charge for the Panthers as he's averaging 14.8 points per game on the season. Austin Peay (5-13, 1-3) just earned a tight win over SIU-Edwardsville to help end an 11-game losing streak. Junior Josh Robinson is having a strong season despite the losing as he's averaging 21.2 points per game for the Governors.

The second game will be on the main CSN at 1 p.m. as Southern Illinois (10-8, 3-2) tries to bounce back from a loss to Bradley. The Salukis are led by sophomore guard Armon Fletcher as the Edwardsville product leads the team at 13.7 points per game.

Evansville (10-8, 1-4) is coming off of three consecutive losses as the Purple Aces are trying to figure things out at home. Senior Jaylon Brown has been one of the Valley's premier scorers this season as he's putting up 20.9 points per contest.

MVC basketball doubleheader on CSN

loyolabasketball.jpg
USA TODAY

MVC basketball doubleheader on CSN

Missouri Valley Conference basketball is back on CSN on Wednesday as a doubleheader begins at 6 p.m.

In the first game, Loyola will travel to Wichita State to face the Shockers in a 6 p.m. tip while the second game features Northern Iowa traveling to Bradley in a game that tips at 8 p.m.

Loyola (12-5, 2-2) has won two straight games as Chicago products Milton Doyle (Marshall) and Donte Ingram (Simeon) are both playing well. Doyle barely missed a triple-double in a win over Northern Iowa and followed that up with a career-high 35 points in a win over Bradley. Ingram has returned from a knee injury to give the Ramblers a boost as he had 25 in the win over Northern Iowa.

Wichita State (14-3, 4-0) has won five straight as they once again look like one of the Valley's best teams. Junior forward Darral Willis Jr. leads the Shockers in scoring at 12.1 points per game while sophomore Markis McDuffie is putting up 11.8 points per game. 

[RELATED: Complete NCAA coverage]

The second game of the doubleheader features Northern Iowa taking on Bradley. The Panthers (5-10, 0-4) have dropped five straight games as they're struggling to find help for senior guard Jeremy Morgan.

Bradley (7-10, 2-2) is coming off of a home loss to Loyola but they've had a solid bounceback season in head coach Brian Wardle's second year. The Braves only won five games all of last season as the roster has been revamped for this season.

Freshman guard Darrell Brown paces the Bradley offense at 12.2 points per game while junior forward JoJo McGlaston is putting up 9.6 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.