When Brian Kelly and Notre Dame announced last night that the Philadelphia Eagles’s courtship was not enough to entice Notre Dame’s head coach to the NFL it was assumed that the news would quickly be followed or even accompanied by news that Kelly and Notre Dame reached a contract extension. That hasn’t happened yet, but it is only a matter of time until that occurs according to Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick.
Swarbrick told CBS Sports’s Jeremy Fowler that an extension between Kelly and Notre Dame has been in the works before the Philadelphia Eagles came calling and that it still has work to do before it is finalized.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone since Swarbrick publicly stated before the BCS National Championship game that he wanted to sit down with his head coach and talk about “securing the future”.
While Swarbrick was adamant in his interview with Fowler that he wasn’t leveraged this week by Kelly because of the Eagles’ interest in him to replace the recently fired Andy Reid, it is very likely that Kelly did gain a few cards to play in future negotiations as his agent and Swarbrick iron out the details of the extension Swarbrick referenced shortly after the University announced that Kelly was withdrawing from consideration for the Eagles job and remaining at Notre Dame.
An extension between Kelly and Notre Dame is vital at this point for Kelly and his staff to maintain the level of success that they have achieved ont he recruiting trail. Prior to last week’s flirtation with the NFL, Kelly and Notre Dame had the #1 ranked recruiting class from both Rivals and ESPN. The speculation and uncertainty that was created by three days of an almost media blackout while everything unfolded did lead to the decommitment of Alex Anzalone and his subsequent enrollment at Florida, but with three weeks left until Signing Day and several highly rated recruits left on the board for the Irish, there is plenty of opportunity for them to reclaim the top spot.
In terms of future success, a long term extension will also give Kelyl and his staff the security it needs to combat any negative recruiting that is bound to occur from other programs going up against the Irish for the nation’s top prospects.
Additionally, Kelly’s courtship by the Eagles can be turned into a huge positive for Kelly and staff once he has that extension in hand. When the question of his future comes up, Kelly can point to the NFL’s interest in him as validation of he and his staff’s coaching acumen.
Swarbrick did not mention raises for Kelly’s assistant coaches in his interview with CBS, but it has been widely reported that any extension for him with Notre Dame would be accompanied by pay raises for his assistants – a group that is currently being compensated at the same rate as a staff at middle of the road program, not a staff that has helped the Irish improve from three straight subpar seasons before their arrival to a team that was playing for the National Championship just six days ago.
While the last four days may have been nerve racking and frustrating for Notre Dame fans, it appears the end result will be some long term stability for a staff that has more than earned such security based a job well done up to this point. That isn’t finished of course, but the Notre Dame is much, much closer to reaching the summit of college football now than they were three years ago at this time.
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