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SOUTH BEND – In January, Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly performed the unfathomable. No, not getting the Fighting Irish to the 2013 BCS National Championship game (though few could have imagined that).
He went from hero to schmoe in less than 48 hours – and the most maddening part was that it was his own doing.
Former Irish coach Bob Davie would've killed for the kind of adulation that Kelly was receiving, even in the aftermath of the 42-14 beating his team took from Alabama in the title game. Not only did Kelly not revel in it, he purposefully disregarded it when he chose to interview the following day with the Philadelphia Eagles.
“The interview, so to speak as people have talked about,” Kelly explained in January, “was really a discussion that I had with Jeff Lurie of the Philadelphia Eagles and his leadership team. I will tell you that the discussion was more about intrigue on my part.”
Irish fans better get used to this scenario, because similar ones are going to occur on an annual basis. That's not just speculation, Kelly made that clear to the media on Tuesday.
“I think other teams will pursue me in the future, because we're going to continue to win here,” Kelly said. “That doesn't mean I have an interest. But I think that's going to continue to happen because we're going to continue to have success here.”
Notre Dame opened spring football practice on Wednesday with the first of 14 practice sessions, which culminate on April 20 with the 84th annual Blue-Gold Spring Football Game at Notre Dame Stadium (1 p.m.).
Kelly's “intrigue” with the Eagles certainly did not sit well with the Notre Dame fan base. However, the fourth-year coach said that any ill feelings on the part of his players should be in the past, because he communicated his perspective with them shortly after returning from vacation, which followed the interview.
“There was very little talk about it,” Kelly said. “I talked to our team behind closed doors about the situation. They appreciated my candor with them about it. We moved on.
“We didn't get into the 'what ifs'. I told them what my feelings were. That was the conversation that happened behind closed door, which I won't get into too specific.”
Kelly has spent his entire career at the college level and said in January that he truly just wanted to get an understanding of what the NFL set-up from a coaching standpoint was like. He also was adamant that he was committed to Notre Dame.
“I had obviously always been in the college game,” Kelly said. “I really did not have a good grasp of the NFL set up. 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.”
So everything is cool within his team?
“They don't like me very much anyway,” Kelly laughed.