There's nothing like a large number of head coaching vacancies in the NFL to put college football fans on edge. Over the past two weeks, a total of eight head coaches were given their walking papers. Some vacancies have been filled, but many teams are still interviewing candidates. Two candidates with the same last name have created a buzz.
Brian and Chip Kelly (no relation) both had their respected interviews with the Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns. Everyone knew Chip was gonna dip his toes in to test the pro level waters, but didn't jump in. For the Notre Dame head coach, who finished his third year with the Irish with a blowout lose to Alabama, made it clear the Saturday before the title game that he was not interested in any of the job openings.
Less than 48 hours after the BCS National Championship game, Brian Kelly met the Philadelphia Eagles for an interview, and when Kelly was reached for a comment, he was already out of the country before any reporters could get a soundbite. That left the media and Golden Domers across the country speculating if he would take the job or stay in South Bend. Three days later, Irish fans were relieved to hear that Kelly was staying, and was in the process of re-negotiating his contract.
Now, many out there probably felt like Kelly was using this to gain leverage over the university. LSU extended Les Miles' contract after he explored interest from other colleges (Michigan, Arkansas). The more the cash flows, the coaches will go, and the S.E.C. has two of the four highest paid coaches in the game.
For those more skeptic of Kelly's interview with the Eagles, many could understand why he might jump to the NFL level. Kelly has climbed the coaching ladder throughout his career, and has seen success at every job at the FBS level.
Three years at Central Michigan, three years at Cincinnati and now just wrapping up a successful year number three with Notre Dame. Coaching in threes is he? Yes, that stat could make any Irish fan paranoid.
His strategy of going back on his word and taking a quick interest in the Eagles coaching job, and then leaving all of us to speculate for 72 hours paid off. Athletic director Jack Swarbrick and the university blinked first. Kelly will get a nice extension and hopefully his assistants get one as well.
The university lasted three days before agreeing to extend Kelly's contract. If we take a step back in time to the year 2005, when the Irish gave then-head coach Charlie Weis a ten year, $40 million dollar extension after his first seven games at the helm. Well, we now know the honeymoon did not last long between Charlie and his alma mater. After the 2009 season, Weis was let go, and the Irish are still paying him, while he coaches Kansas to a Big XII worst 1-11 and going winless in the conference. A bad experience with Weis could've held Swarbrick back from budging with Kelly. At least he wasn't quick to give him an extension after starting 4-3 in 2010.
One day, Brian Kelly might venture into the National Football League. It may not happen until he overstays his welcome in South Bend or he leaves when he feels like he's accomplished all that he can with the Irish, and there is a lot let to accomplish in South Bend.