If he doesn’t want to be part of us, get rid of him… He’s a snake...This is what’s coming out of the mouths of panicking Notre Dame fans after news broke Thursday that Brian Kelly was interested in the Philadelphia Eagles head coaching vacancy. To all those people panicking, take a step back and relax. Brian Kelly will be the coach next year, and for the foreseeable future. All the man wants is a contract extension, and this is the way you go about doing it in today’s college football (see Oregon’s Chip Kelly). Welcome Notre Dame to the world of “coaching leverage.”
When Kelly took over the job at Notre Dame just three years ago, the program was a mess. Charlie Weis, the previous coach, recruited decent talent, but could never get the team over 500. Kelly came in and revamped the entire program and built the team with “his kind of guys.” Gone are the try hard kids, and in are legitimate SEC caliber college football players. Just this past year, the Irish went 12-0 during the regular season only to lose the National Championship to Alabama. If anyone would have said during Kelly’s press conference that he would make a National Championship in just three years, you would have said you’re crazy.
How has Kelly been rewarded by this great turnaround? By being the 23rd highest paid coach in college football. This is the coach of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the team that went to the National Championship, the team that has its own contract with NBC. Kelly’s contract of $2.6 million a year is currently lower than the likes of James Franklin (Vanderbilt), Todd Graham (Arizona State), and Kirk Ferentz (Iowa). Kelly realizes he not only coaches a higher profile school, he’s also out performed them. Brian knows it’s time for him to be recognized as one of the top 5 coaches in college football.
Kelly might eventually go to the NFL, but the time isn’t right. If there’s a coach in the NFL who’s excited about working with Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles, that would be a first. The Philadelphia Eagles have major quarterback problems, and there’s nobody in the draft that can fix that this year. If he were to make the jump, he would have to be going to a soft landing spot where the skill players were in place to compete right away. The only place that would fit that criteria would be Chicago, but the Bears have already denied interest in him.
If for some reason the Irish don’t step up to the plate and reward Kelly, the line of possible candidates to replace him would be out the door. Notre Dame isn’t in the same position when Kelly took over the program just three years ago. They were viewed as a complete rebuilding project after Weis, but are now viewed as a national powerhouse once again. You can expect the likes of Bob Stoops (Oklahoma), Tom Clements (Green Bay Packers) and Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern) to all show interest in the job. Thanks to the job Brian Kelly has done, along with the talent that on this roster, Notre Dame again is one of the best jobs in the country.
The time is now for the Irish to open the check book and extend Brian Kelly. This is the right guy to lead this program and he’s done a fantastic job in his three years. Kelly realizes there won't be a better time to push for an extension, and he’s merely using the Eagles to obtain the best deal he can from Notre Dame. At Kelly’s introductory press conference, he said “There’s a football coach, and then there’s the football coach at Notre Dame.” Brian knows how fortunate he is to be coaching in South Bend, and he’s not going anywhere.