Brian Kelly has called Notre Dame his dream job, and last week said he has the "best job in the country." So why, exactly, would he consider a leap to the NFL?
That's a question most of Notre Dame nation is trying to answer right now, but with nothing concrete beyond reports of "mutual interest" with the Philadelphia Eagles and interest from the Chicago Bears, everything is mere speculation at this point. Kelly could stay in South Bend, or he could leave for football's highest level. The waiting game isn't easy, but that's what will be played for the coming days and weeks.
From Kelly's hypothetical point of view, his stock has never been higher. If his ultimate goal is to coach in the NFL, he'd be foolish to not ride the momentum of Notre Dame's 2012 season into a job offer from the pros.
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What Kelly's intentions are from his meeting with the Eagles are up for some debate. But, as plenty have pointed out, Kelly doesn't exactly need leverage to earn a loaded contract extension from Notre Dame. He's the first truly successful coach to grace the sidelines of Notre Dame Stadium since Lou Holtz, and one who appears to have all the pieces in place for an extended run in South Bend.
Perhaps Kelly is just dipping his foot in the water with no intentions of jumping in. He may never be as hot of a commodity as he is now, and even if he has no desire to leave Notre Dame it'd still be worth it to see what the NFL has to offer -- especially in case the opportunity arises down the road.
Or maybe Kelly really is ready to move on to the next level, just as he did at Grand Valley State, Central Michigan and Cincinnati. Kelly has reached the top of college football -- maybe not the very top, but close enough to it to where any move would essentially be lateral. The next step, if this is Kelly's line of thinking, would be to tackle a new slope, the being the NFL.
If the rumblings are accurate, though, this may be a case of Kelly just seeing what the NFL has to offer. CSNChicago.com Bears Insider John 'Moon' Mullin relayed Thursday the leading candidates for the Eagles' job are Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and Seahawks offensive coordinator Gus Bradley. CSNPhilly.com columnist Reuben Frank also said yesterday the Eagles "don't expect" Kelly to leave Notre Dame despite coming away impressed with his interview.
We'll probably know more on Kelly's situation in the next few days, and ultimately it'd be a shock if he were to leave Notre Dame for the NFL this year. But he'd be doing himself a disservice if he didn't at least see what the league had to offer, no matter what his ultimate intentions are.