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January 9, 2013

Report: Kelly interviews with Eagles

Jack Swarbrick stood beneath Sun Life Stadium on Monday night ready to move forward with Notre Dame's football program. And the Irish athletics director planned to do that with Brian Kelly as its head coach.

But on Wednesday night multiple reports surfaced that Kelly had already interviewed with the Philadelphia Eagles after Notre Dame's 42-14 loss to Alabama in the BCS National Championship.

Swarbrick said he hadn't spoken with Kelly about his NFL aspirations before Monday.

"We haven't had that conversation while we're preparing for a national championship," Swarbrick said. "We always sit down at the end of the season and discuss every aspect of the program, everything, top to bottom. We'll do that. There's no rush to do it."

A source told Irish Illustrated on Wednesday that a new Notre Dame contract for Kelly is already in works following the program's first undefeated regular season in 24 years. Kelly was extended by the University at this time last year, his deal now running through the 2016 season.

Kelly appeared intent on staying at Notre Dame during the build-up to the championship game, asked repeatedly during media day about his NFL aspirations.

"Leaving is not an option," Kelly said. "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."

Kelly represents the third college head coach interviewed by the Eagles since the start of their coaching search. Andy Reid was dismissed on Dec. 31. The franchise also approached Penn State's Bill O'Brien and Oregon's Chip Kelly. Both decided to remain at their schools.

There could be immediate impact on Notre Dame's recruiting class, although the coaching staff began reaching out to the six early enrollees immediately. James Onwualu and Mike Heuerman both said they'd spoken with the Irish since news of Kelly's NFL interview broke.

"Still feeling 100 percent confident," Onwualu said. "I'll be there in 72 hours."

Notre Dame's spring semester starts next week.

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