Irish fans, recruits left wondering about Kelly
SOUTH BEND, IND. (AP) - Notre Dame nose tackle Louis Nix III captured the emotion of just about everyone who follows the Fighting Irish with a simple tweet: “Didnt see that coming!”
The job, after all, has not traditionally been a springboard to the NFL and is viewed by many _ at least Notre Dame fans _ as a destination job for a deep-pocketed program with one of the most storied histories in college football. And why would anyone leave after coming so close to the national championship?
“Im not worried and you shouldnt be either,” he tweeted.
The early reaction from Notre Dame recruits indicated they are still committed to the Irish.
Cornerback Devin Butler expressed similar feelings, tweeting: “I committed to a program and school.. Not a coach.” He then added: “But I doubt he leaves.”
Still, the interview alone could prove costly. Recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS Sports says Notre Dame was on track to possibly have the top recruiting class this year, but said some recruits will get antsy if Kelly doesn’t announce his intention soon. He said other schools probably started calling recruits shortly after the news broke.
Kelly, who was believed to be out of the country, originally signed a five-year contract three years ago at a reported $2.5 million a year and was given a two-year extension a year ago. Athletic director Jack Swarbrick told reporters Sunday he had planned to talk with Kelly about extending his contract. Swarbrick did not respond to messages left by The Associated Press at his office or on his cellphone seeking comment. Neither did Kelly’s agent, Trace Armstrong.
Kelly told reporters in Florida before the game that Notre Dame was his dream job, but said while he was coaching at Cincinnati he was focused on that. He then added: “I think that’s the same thing with the NFL.”
“I think from my perspective I’ve got the best job in the country, NFL, college, high school, whatever. I just look at the place that I’m at and thankful for the opportunity that I have,” he said.
The question is, will he have another opportunity? He is the first Notre Dame coach in recent memory to interview for another job. Former Irish coach Charlie Weis was given a 10-year contract when there were reports the New York Giants might be interested in talking to him.
Former Big Eight Commissioner Chuck Neinas, who has spent years helping coaches and administrators find jobs and recently spent about 10 months as the Big 12 interim commissioner, said it’s hard to tell what might motivate a coach to interview for a job.