Brian Kelly NFL Speculation Inevitable for Notre Dame

Brian Kelly - Notre Dame Head Coach
East Lansing, MI, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly walks the sidelines during the 1st half of game against the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE: It has been reported by Chris Mortenson and other NFL media members that Brian Kelly met with the Philadelphia Eagles a day after Notre Dame’s BCS Championship loss to Alabama

One of the very few downfalls of Notre Dame’s 12-0 regular season and all of the attention that it’s brought to the program is the inevitable Brian Kelly NFL speculation that has already begun after the NFL’s annual “Black Monday.”

For those unfamiliar with the pro game, “Black Monday” refers to the first Monday after the end of the NFL regular season when most coaches on the hot seat find out their fate from their respective owners.  This year seven different NFL organizations decided to fire their head coaches – the Eagles, Bears, Cardinals, Chiefs, Browns, Bills, and Chargers.  With all of those openings, it was/is inevitable that a coach who took a team from mediocrity to the BCS Championship game in just three seasons will draw the attention of owners with deep pockets in a win now league.

To this point, nothing Brian Kelly has said or done has indicated that he would leave Notre Dame for a pro job.  While he has moved around quite a bit in his career since leaving his first head coaching post at Grand Valley State, he has never coached at the NFL level and hasn’t stated a desire to do so – at least no publicly.

Any time a coach does as good of a job as Kelly has done at Notre Dame, he is going to grab the attention of NFL executives – especially when that coach has had success wherever he has gone without having to use a specific system.  Kelly has had prolific passing offenses at previous stops but when he got to Notre Dame his blueprint has been building a dominating defense and relying on a strong running game.  That kid of versatility is going to be attractive to a lot of owners.

Now, while Kelly has the attention of NFL owners thanks to the turnaround job he has done at Notre Dame, there is no reason to believe at this time that that attention is being reciprocated by Kelly at all right now.

Notre Dame hasn’t lost a head coach to another job before for a reason.  There aren’t many other coaching jobs that equal the prestige that comes with being the head football coach at the University of Notre Dame.  I’m sure some NFL teams can offer Kelly a truckload of money, but I don’t think anyone can argue that being the head coach for say the Arizona Cardinals or San Diego Chargers is even close to as prestigious as being the head coach at Notre Dame.  Hell, I am a diehard Philadelphia Eagles fan and I would never argue that position is as high profile as being the head coach at Notre Dame.

With the National Championship game still six days away, don’t expect to hear anything from Kelly regarding NFL teams’ interest in him.  I would be shocked if we heard anything other than, “I’m only answering questions about the national championship game” or similar responses.

That won’t step reporters from asking him or listing him as a potential candidate for an open job or two though.  A quick Google search for “Brian Kelly NFL” returns plenty of results of blogs, newspapers, and websites speculating about Kelly and the the NFL.

Here’s the key though.  It’s all speculation right now and anyone who says anything otherwise according to “their sources” or a “source” does so knowing that it’s very easy to link the hot name in college football to a NFL opening even if there is no interest on either side.

Based on everything that Kelly has said so far since taking the job, I would be surprised if he seriously considered the idea of leaving for the NFL right now.  Kelly has built a winning program at a place where people were still saying it was impossible to build a winner and has Notre Dame set up for a long run of success thanks to the foundation he’s built and the players he has coming in.

It would also surprise me if we didn’t see a headline announcing a contract extension between Kelly and Notre Dame shortly after the title game as well.   Not only has Kelly far outperformed his original contract, but without a move like that from Notre Dame, opposing coaches will have a field day using NFL speculation against Kelly and Notre Dame on the recruiting trail.

Returns of Jerry Tillery, Tevon Coney Beyond Huge for Notre Dame


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  1. storespook 5 years ago

    I’d be a little surprised if BK made a decision to leave for the Pro’s at this juncture. A couple of more seasons like this one, I could see it happening or being an interest for BK. There is a reason why college coaches haven’t exactly trancended well in the Pro’s except for some exceptions. Harbaugh played in the NFL so I think he knew real well what he was getting into between the differences of coaching college young men and pro players who have heir own massive egos to contend with. Pete Carroll had a previous stint in the NFL and I think has benefitted from that previous experience. It seems to me that one exception to this has been Jimmy Johnson (and God knows I’m not a fan of his) who did well at Dallas but benefittd from the great Herschl Walker trade where the Cowgirls got all those picks to help him. Though Switzer also came into the NFL from College, he had the benefit of having great players at the time he was in Dallas and really has little credit for that success. Kelly is a guy (like most coaches) who wants to maintain control over things in the program. In the Pro’s, coaches have influence but that is not the same as “control” over the program aspects. Just ask Saban and Spurrier about that. I believe that is why they both ultimately ended back in college coaching, to get that control that a college coach should & does have. I think BK will stick around for awhile (barrng should he do something completely off-kilter against ND and/or NCAA rules).

    A giant Blue & Gold tsunami is piling up and will roll that crimson tide right off the field and into the ocean.

    Gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo Irishhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

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  2. Shazamrock 5 years ago

    I happened to come across an intervew on TV the other day with former Florida State Head Coach Bobby Bowden, who was discussing his long college coaching career.

    He made a very interesting statement that says a lot about coaching, careers, and loyality.

    He said: “I have won at every level of coaching that I have ever been involved with. I have won awards, conference titles, and National Titles.
    I have repeatedly turned down other college coaching offers, and numerous offers from the NFL.
    I have devoted my coaching life to making Florida State a top, respectiable, and very profitable college football program.
    But even with all those years, and all those accomplishments, it comes down to one simple fact… what have you done for us lately”

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  3. JacksonATL 5 years ago

    As an SEC fan, I have to respect the job that Kelly has done in just three years at ND. I definitely do not see him leaving for the NFL, which is littered with the career graves of college coaches (including Saban and Spurrier) who could not cut it in the NFL. Kelly has it made at ND. Why would he leave, and especially after just three seasons?

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  4. ND72 5 years ago

    Don’t kid yourselves. Kelly has been a me guy throughout his career. If the NFL comes calling, he’s listening.

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    1. JDH 5 years ago

      Why is he a “me guy”? How is he different than any other college coach who takes better jobs as they come along? Going from one college program to the next is one thing. Going to the NFL is something else entirely. Leave ND after 3 years right after you’ve built it back up to #1? I doubt it.

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      1. SteelFanRob 5 years ago


        Right on!

        BTW: Did you find out the final score of yesterday’s semi-finals at the Junior Ice Hockey World Championships between the USA and Canada?

        USA 5 – Canada 1.

        But I guess that’s a fluke!

        Sorry, JDH, couldn’t help taking a shot at Evan’s anti-USA hockey BS.

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      2. JDH 5 years ago

        Hahaha- I forgot about that Evan guy who wanted to talk about hockey all the time. The Canucks must be in quite a bother about that one!

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  5. C-Dog 5 years ago

    Holtz remains loyal to ND even though Wadsworth screwed him. Loyalty to a concept may transcend money or ego. Notre Dame is indeed a concept, standing for Catholic and American values.

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  6. PO 5 years ago

    I’m as big an Irish fan as anyone else on this forum. But there is no loyalty in athletics anymore. None. ND can fire Tyrone Willingham with time remaining on his contract. ND can fire Weis with time on his contract. Schools and AD’s do this all the time. Likewise, coaches leave anytime as well. No trust, no loyalty. It’s just the way it is. I hope Kelly stays, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he bolts for the NFL. And if that’s his long term goal, I wouldn’t blame him either. In a career where you never know when your number is up, you can’t blame a coach for taking an opportunity when it arises.

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  7. Sad Warrior 5 years ago

    Irisheye62-We are inclined to agree with you regarding today’s ‘loyalty issues’ in our society and a percieved ethos of the ‘me firsters.’ I think I can safely state that I (we) know something about loyalty over here. I do see that loyalty and dedication from this coach; his players reflect that personna. We found the presentation of Undefeated inspiring! This is the product of loyalty and devotion to one’s vocation. So, I would say it is safe to surmise that this man will stay the course. He has adapted and adjusted accordingly and brilliantly so. That is the single most difficult character combination to persuade any leader to pursue. Coach Kelly has that mantra that instills his players to follow and do so faithfully.

    To JDH, JC, Shaz, and SFR-I heard about a group that will be watching the NC game, no delays, no tapes, real time…!!! I guess the candles did the trick! Happy New Year and enjoy the game. Go Irish! Stay safe my friends. We will be watching. Hooah!

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  8. Jason 5 years ago

    I haven’t heard Brian Kelly mentioned with any of the current NFL openings…the only college coaches I am hearing about that are potential NFL targets are Saban, Chip Kelly and the head coach from Syracuse.

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  9. irisheye62 5 years ago


    Loyalty is lost on most in society these days. Marriages, friendships,
    business and lack of leadership. One can be part of something for nearly
    thirty years and suddenly they are released because some twenty one year
    old can do the job cheaper while the fat cats in the office are
    still drawing a major salary. Loyalty is a lost art in this
    “me first” society. Please don’t think of me as cynical
    but it is a sad truth.
    HOWEVER, Kelly came to Notre Dame at the right time for himself and
    the Irish Program. Regardless of what folks say about his leaving
    from Cincinnati, he had to leave at that time due to recruiting and
    what not. Folks may criticize him for that then and wonder about his
    place now–but I HONESTLY believe that the College Realm is one where
    Kelly will thrive. Holtz tried the Pro Thing and it did not work for him.
    The College Realm is best for some while others go from one to the other.
    I truly with my gut feeling that Kelly is here to build and build and
    build. Regarding money, how much money does one NEED? He has a lot of
    pressure being at Notre Dame but he has done MORE than prove himself.
    Loyalty is lost on most. I REALLY think Kelly is in this for the long
    term with many, many chapters and memories to come. He is good for the
    Program and the Program is good for him. Go Irish!! WE ARE ND!!!

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  10. Chuckie 5 years ago

    Each time a mention of a coach, or player, is considering a transfer to some other team, the thought pops up: What about Loyalty? Is loyalty gone from our decisions and acts? Money should not be in the mix because these individuals are now safely navigating well above and beyond survival status. The only real issue is loyalty.

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  11. scav 5 years ago

    I never saw Kelly as one who was using college football as a stepping stone to the NFL and I really think he enjoys developing these young kids.

    But the real reason why he will stay is that he has a chance to be a LEGEND at ND. He would be the guy who brought ND back and I really believe he has the chance to win multiple titles and go down as one of the best ever at ND.

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  12. Don O' 5 years ago

    Well said. BK will stay for the long haul. He knows the tradition very well and his success will feed upon itself, as well as the fun factor..
    The money will follow automatically.

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  13. JC 5 years ago

    Kudos Frank,

    As I posted early this year, if BK reaches 10 wins he deserves a raise. Now, at 12-0, a big one at that! I think we have the right size truck of money for retention of BK! I could be wrong, however, I don’t think he came here just for the money!

    Thank you for all the great posts and new author’s posting! No worries, we are going to win! Our Coach and Team has definately arrived early like our past iconic Championship Coaches and Teams have! After living through the last four titles, I can tell you, I now see the same fire in the belly that will bring home a National Championship Trophy!

    Happy New Year to you and your family!

    Here come our beloved Irish!

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