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January 5, 2013

Kelly: Leaving not an option

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. - Before Brian Kelly talked college football Saturday from Sun Life Stadium - site of Monday’s BCS national title game against Alabama -- he talked a little professional football.

At the rate he’s winning at Notre Dame, it won’t be the last time he’s asked about his interest in coaching in the NFL. He’s reportedly been on the wish list of several NFL teams who are in search of a new head coach.

But with the national title tilt looming, Kelly said he’s strictly focused on the task at hand.

“From my perspective, I’ve got the best job in the country - NFL, college, high school - it doesn’t matter,” said Kelly from a podium Saturday as he, the coaching staff and the Irish players participated in media day for the BCS national championship.

“When I took the job at Notre Dame, I said it was the dream job. But I never went around thinking about being the Notre Dame head coach because the job that I had in hand was what I was thinking about. I think it’s the same thing with the NFL. I just look at the place that I’m at, and I’m thankful for the opportunity that I have.”

While previous speculation about Kelly leaving for another destination centered on moving from one college to another, this is the first time that the talk has been about jumping to the NFL. Kelly is flattered, but with the national championship looming, he insisted his only focus is on Monday night against the Crimson Tide.

“Any of those things that occur relative to contact, there’s a strict protocol for that,” Kelly said. “They have to contact my representation. If that did occur, then all that stuff is secondary to this football game.

“This is the biggest game that I’ve ever been involved in, so my focus is 100 percent on this football game. All that other stuff, that happens when you’re winning football games. I’ve been through this a lot in my career. It’s flattering if there is interest, which I don’t know if there is. But again, that’s such a secondary topic for me right now. It’s all about this game.”

While Kelly did not definitively say he would be back at Notre Dame next season, he did say that his focus is on Notre Dame football - today, tomorrow and in the future.

“I don’t even think in those terms,” Kelly said. “Leaving is not an option. I don’t even have that in my head, ‘What if I leave tomorrow.’ Don’t think about it. I just don’t operate that way.

“I’ve been here for three or four days talking about our 2013-14 recruiting class. I’m talking about getting back here, consistently. Those are the things I think about. I don’t think about leaving because I don’t have that intention or feeling in my heart.”





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