Why is Notre Dame's Kelly interested in the NFL?

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Why is Notre Dame's Kelly interested in the NFL?

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.

RELATED: 4-star LB Anzalone decommits from Notre Dame following Kelly interview

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.

Saturday on CSN: Bradley vs. Nevada; Illinois State vs. New Mexico

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Saturday on CSN: Bradley vs. Nevada; Illinois State vs. New Mexico

CSN will have two quality college basketball matchups on Saturday as two Mountain West/Missouri Valley Challenge games will be featured live.

Bradley (4-3) has Nevada (6-2) in town for a 7 p.m. game Saturday on CSN while Illinois State (3-2) will host New Mexico (5-2) at 7 p.m. Saturday on CSN+.

The Braves have alternated wins and losses all season as they hope to build momentum off of a road win over Eastern Illinois.

Freshman guard Darrell Brown paces Bradley at 15.3 points per game on 48 percent three-point shooting while junior guard JoJo McGlaston is putting up 12.7 points and 4.6 rebounds per contest.

Nevada enters this one winning four of their last five games as senior guard Marcus Marshall is averaging 20.0 points and 3.9 assists per game. Sophomore forward Cameron Oliver has been generating some pro buzz as he's averaging 16.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game while shooting 44 percent from three-point range.

In the second contest, Illinois State is hoping for a key non-conference win against a quality opponent. Senior forward Deontae Hawkins is doing some solid damage as he's averaging 16.0 points and 7.6 rebounds per game while junior forward MiKyle McIntosh is at 14.2 points and 7.2 rebounds a game.

Proviso East product Paris Lee is also having a good year at guard for Illinois State.

New Mexico is led by a former area product as Homewood-Flossmoor graduate Tim Williams is averaging 19.0 points and 6.9 rebounds per game for the Lobos. Junior guard Elijah Brown, the son of former NBA coach Mike Brown, is also playing well for New Mexico as he's putting up 15.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.

Preview: Northern Iowa takes on George Mason tonight on CSN+

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USA TODAY

Preview: Northern Iowa takes on George Mason tonight on CSN+

Northern Iowa looks to snap a two-game losing streak as they host George Mason tonight. You can catch this game live on CSN+ at 7 p.m.

The Panthers (3-2) have lost both games to Xavier as Northern Iowa matched up with the top-25 team for the title in the Tire Pros Invitational in Orlando before losing to them on the road less than a week later.

Northern Iowa does own some solid wins over Oklahoma and Arizona State as they're led by senior Jeremy Morgan, who is averaging 16.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game -- which all lead the team. 

Junior forward Klint Carlson has also been strong for the Panthers as he's put up 12.2 points per game while shooting 44 percent from three-point range.

George Mason (3-2) has won three consecutive games -- with two of those wins coming by four points or less. The Patriots haven't played anyone as good as Northern Iowa yet as they beat Kent State, Bradley and James Madison.