Brian Kelly votes Notre Dame No. 1 in coaches’ pollContinue reading.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly: “Leaving is not an option.”
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly didn’t say Saturday whether he or his agent has been contacted by any NFL teams looking for a new coach. But after Kelly — ever the politician — danced around the issue a while, he finally said something that at least came close to the words Irish fans were hoping to hear.
“Leaving is not an option,” he said. “I don’t even think about it.”
Speculation around Kelly’s future has been high since seven NFL coaches were fired, including the Bears’ Lovie Smith, last Monday. But Kelly, the Walter Camp coach of the year, said his focus is strictly on Monday’s national championship game against Alabama.
“There’s a strict protocol for that; they have to contact my representation and then they’ve got to follow through that,” Kelly said. “If that did occur, then all that stuff is secondary to this football game. This is the biggest game that I’ve ever been involved in, so my focus is 100 percent on this football game. All that other stuff, that happens when you’re winning football games. I’ve been through this a lot in my career. It’s flattering if there is interest — which I don’t know that there is — but again, that is such a secondary topic for me right now. It’s all about this game.”
Alabama coach Nick Saban, who had an ill-fated two-year stint as the Miami Dolphins coach in between jobs at LSU and Alabama, was more emphatic in shooting down any NFL rumors.
“I don’t have any unfinished business in the NFL,” he said. “It’s not even something I want to do.”
Kelly recalled that when he left Cincinnati for Notre Dame a little more than three years ago, he called it his “dream job.” And he said that hasn’t changed.
“I think, from my perspective, I’ve got the best job in the country — NFL, college, high school, whatever,” he said.
As for the future, yes, Kelly and his staff have been talking about the future. But, he said, it’s been all about Notre Dame’s future, not Kelly’s own future, wherever it might lead.
“For three or four days here, I’ve been talking about our 2013-14 recruiting class,” he said. “I’m talking about getting back here, about consistency. Those are the things I think about. I don’t think about leaving, because I don’t have that intention or feeling in my heart.”