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Eagles candidate Brian Kelly to stay at Notre Dame

geoff mosher csnphilly

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 11:52 PM


Eagles candidate Brian Kelly to stay at Notre Dame

January 12, 2013, 6:27 pm

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Brian Kelly, the Notre Dame coach who drew serious interest from the Eagles, is headed back to South Bend, Ind., the school announced.

Kelly on Saturday became the third college coach to stay at school instead of engage in contract discussions with the Eagles, who will shift their sights back to Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley.

Oregon’s Chip Kelly and Penn State’s Bill O’Brien had also met with the Eagles’ search committee of owner Jeffrey Lurie, president Don Smolenski and general manager Howie Roseman before opting to stay in their current positions.

"This week, I had an incredible opportunity to speak with one of the premier organizations in sports about becoming their head coach," Kelly said in a statement released by the school.

“Like every kid who has ever put on a pair of football cleats, I have had thoughts about being a part of the NFL. However, after much reflection and conversation with those closest to me, I have decided to remain at Notre Dame."

Although the Eagles were clearly interested in all three, it is not known whether any of them were close to a contractual agreement, although O’Brien told Comcast SportsNet recently that he and the Eagles never discussed a contract.

A fourth college coach, Doug Marrone of Syracuse, was once on the Eagles’ radar but never interviewed and was recently named head coach of the Bills.

In a statement, the Eagles said they understood the “remote chance” that the coaches they talked to would flee their current high-profile college jobs to rebuild an NFL franchise.

The search to find Andy Reid’s replacement turns back to NFL assistants. Eagles brass will meet with Bradley on Saturday in Atlanta, where the Seahawks will play the Falcons in an NFC divisional round playoff game.

Bradley is considered the top candidate to replace Reid, whom the Eagles fired after 14 years. The trio is also expected to meet Monday with Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and soon with Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.

Others who have already interviewed for the position are Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong; Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and former Bears head coach Lovie Smith.

Kelly spoke to the Eagles on Tuesday, a day after his Fighting Irish were smashed 42-14 by defending champion Alabama in the BCS National Championship game. Notre Dame had carried a 12-0 record into the title match in Kelly’s third season and played for the school’s first national title since 1988.

Notre Dame had reportedly offered Kelly an extension and pay raise even before the championship game but Kelly decided to test NFL waters before making his decision.

The Eagles haven’t plucked a head coach from the college ranks since hiring D Vermeil out of UCLA in 1976.

"I was always confident that Brian would continue to lead our football program,” Notre Dame vice president and athletics director Jack Swarbrick said in a statement. “I am very happy to have that confirmed and share Brian's excitement about what lies ahead for our program.

"I appreciate the Eagles reaching out to request permission to speak with Brian, and I also appreciate Brian keeping me fully informed throughout this process. We all look forward to what's ahead for Notre Dame football."

E-mail Geoff Mosher at gmosher@comcastsportsnet.com