Kelly: 'I'm committed to Notre Dame'

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Kelly: 'I'm committed to Notre Dame'

Nearly three weeks after rumors began to fly about Brian Kelly meeting with the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles, the Notre Dame coach characterized those discussions as a lot less serious than initially thought to be.

Kelly, speaking on a teleconference with reporters Wednesday morning, said the Eagles contacted Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick soon after firing Andy Reid. Swarbrick and Kelly agreed to not address the matter until after Jan. 7's BCS Championship game.

From there, the discussions Kelly had with the Eagles were "more about intrigue on my part" as opposed to actual interest, the coach said.

"I had always been in the college game and really did not have a good grasp of the NFL setup," Kelly said. "And so, for me, my head said let's be more informed, as it relates to the NFL, but my heart is in college football and with Notre Dame."

Kelly added he was flattered and appreciative of the Eagles' interest in him, but relayed what he's been telling recruits for the last three weeks:

"I tell the up front that I'm committed to Notre Dame," Kelly said. " But it's not what I want to do. I want to be a college football coach."

While Kelly has since affirmed his commitment to the college ranks, players were left in the dark regarding his intentions as various reports had Kelly seriously considering the NFL. Blue-chip linebacker Alex Anzalone decommitted from Notre Dame and bolted to Florida following the report, and members of the team were left in limbo for a few days, awaiting Kelly's next move like everyone else.

But despite not knowing anything during the process, Kelly said no players expressed concern to him about his future. Kelly met with his team Sunday night to address the Eagles matter.

"From their perspective, they just wanted to know that I'm going to be their coach, that I'm going to be their coach for some time," Kelly said.

Personnel notes

A few quick hits on various players with various statuses for spring practice and the 2013 season, via Kelly's teleconference:

-- Notre Dame is still working on the appeal process with safety Jamoris Slaughter, who was recently denied a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA. Slaughter, who tore his Achilles' tendon Sept. 15 against Michigan State, is still enrolled at Notre Dame and working through injury rehab. Kelly said he hopes to hear an answer from the NCAA by the end of recruiting -- signing day is Feb. 6 -- but isn't optimistic about getting an answer by then.

-- Cornerback Bennett Jackson and linebacker Dan Fox are expected to miss spring practice, as each underwent shoulder surgery a few weeks after the BCS Championship.

-- Cornerback Lo Wood, who ruptured his Achilles' tendon last August in preseason camp, has been getting nothing but positive news regarding his recovery, Kelly said.

-- Safety Austin Collinsworth is expected to get a green light for spring practice after missing the entire 2012 season following June shoulder surgery and back surgery sometime during last season.

-- Center Matt Hegarty, who according to various outlets suffered a stroke in November and underwent heart surgery in December, has adapted well to his medication and may be cleared soon, Kelly said.

-- The outlook isn't as positive regarding reserve tackle Tate Nichols, whose future Kelly described as "uncertain." The junior may wind up on medical hardship.

Sunday on CSN: UIC travels to Valparaiso

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Sunday on CSN: UIC travels to Valparaiso

Horizon League basketball returns to CSN on Sunday as UIC travels to Valparaiso. This game tips at 2:00 p.m. live on CSN.

The Flames (11-8, 4-2) have won three straight games and have played pretty good ball after the loss of Dikembe Dixson to a torn ACL. Junior big man Tai Odiase, a Homewood-Flossmoor graduate, is playing well along with former St. Rita product Dominique Matthews.

Valparaiso (15-4, 5-1) is hoping to maintain its conference lead behind senior All-American candidate Alec Peters. The 6-foot-9 senior is averaging 23.9 points and 10.9 rebounds per game on the season.

The Crusaders won the first time these two teams played at UIC on Dec. 30 as Tevonn Walker had 23 points.

Saturday on CSN: Loyola, Illinois State host Missouri Valley opponents

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Saturday on CSN: Loyola, Illinois State host Missouri Valley opponents

CSN will have two Missouri Valley Conference games with local teams on Saturday. 

The first game tips at 3 p.m. live on CSN as Evansville heads to Loyola. The second game tips at 7 p.m. and is also live on CSN as Drake will play at Illinois State.

Loyola (13-7, 3-4) is coming off of a tough road loss in double overtime to Northern Iowa. The Ramblers have been led by senior Milton Doyle this season as the former Marshall star is one of the better guards in the Valley.

Evansville (10-10, 1-6) has dropped five straight games as they're struggling to gain any momentum in conference play. Senior guard Jaylon Brown is having an outstanding season for the Purple Aces as he's putting up 21.2 points per game.

The second matchup has Drake (6-13, 4-3) traveling to Illinois State. The Bulldogs have won three of four games and junior guard Reed Timmer is dangerous while former Saint Viator product Ore Arogundade is having a solid sophomore season. 

Illinois State (15-4, 7-0) is leading the Valley after a huge win over Wichita State as they've won eight straight games. The Redbirds are hoping to make a run to an NCAA tournament bid with another home win.