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“Some people said, ‘Well, why didn’t you interview me,’ and I said, ‘What do you think I’ve been doing for the last 15, 20 years?’”

Bellotti said he thought Kelly could be a “difference-maker.”

And in the end, the longtime assistants such as defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti, bought into what Kelly wanted.

“I think they felt like, ‘OK, we don’t know Chip, but let’s give him a chance, he’s our boss now,’” Bellotti said.