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January 10, 2012

Kelly gets two-year extension

Back-to-back eight-win seasons have earned Brian Kelly two more years.

Notre Dame announced it extended the contract of its head coach on Tuesday, exercising an option in Kelly's contract that extends the deal for two additional seasons. The Irish are 16-10 under Kelly, notching consecutive eight-win seasons for just the second time at Notre Dame since the departure of Lou Holtz.

"While coach Kelly and I are focused on the additional work that must be done to reach our goals, I am very pleased with the progress we have made during the past two years," said athletics director Jack Swarbrick in a statement. "Our football team's performance on the field, in the classroom, and in the community reflect coach Kelly's commitment to building a program that will be able to sustain success in the long run, and to doing so in a manner consistent with Notre Dame's values and tradition."

Kelly's contract now runs through the 2016 season.

For Kelly to stay in South Bend that long the head coach must build on his early successes, which included beating USC last season, stabilizing Notre Dame's line play and hitting the ground running in recruiting. Staff continuity figures to be key as well after Kelly's remaining assistants received two-year extensions earlier this month.

Swarbrick used a larger sample size before extending Kelly than his predecessor did with Charlie Weis, who received a 10-year contract extension just six games into his tenure. Notre Dame fired Weis halfway through that contract.

Bob Davie received a contract extension after his fourth season in South Bend. He was fired a year later.

However, Kelly has what those two former Irish head coaches did not, previous head coaching experience. Combine that with the progress Notre Dame has made in the past two years and it convinced Swarbrick to both extend Kelly and send a message of stability within a program that's had little of it since Holtz exited.

"I want to thank Father (John) Jenkins and Jack Swarbrick for their unwavering support of me the last two years," Kelly said. "My family and I are truly blessed to be at Notre Dame and we are excited about what the future holds for the Fighting Irish football team.

"I also want to thank Father John and Jack for the commitment they made to the football program last week by renewing the contracts of our assistant coaches. I think we have one of the finest coaching staffs in the country at Notre Dame, and the confidence our administration has shown in us is truly appreciated."

Kelly continues to search for two new coaches to round out his staff, including an offensive line coach. Running backs coach Tim Hinton and offensive line coach Ed Warinner left Notre Dame for similar positions at Ohio State. Offensive coordinator Charley Molnar took the head coaching position at Massachusetts, with Chuck Martin filling his role.

"The quality of the assistant coaches that coach Kelly has brought to Notre Dame is evident both in their performance and the interest that other schools have shown in them since the end of the regular season," Swarbrick said. "Building on the foundation we have now created and maintaining continuity is critical to the future success of our football program, and that is why we have secured the continued service of our football staff."

That starts with Kelly and will continue an additional two seasons.


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