"Sure," Kelly said. "I think you never want to see guys not stay in the program. You don't bring guys in expecting them to transfer. There's always a sense from my end that we wish he would have given it an opportunity. But kids make decisions based upon what are important factors to them. Gunner and his family felt like it was best for them to pursue other opportunities.
"Yeah, I mean, again, we're coaches, teachers, educators. We want to see guys succeed."
Kelly had told Sports Illustrated in November that the spring would present another open quarterback competition, and he said again Tuesday that the staff had created an opportunity for Kiel to compete this spring. The fact that Kiel would have entered it fourth in terms of playing experience, however, did not exactly leave Kelly blindsided by the recent developments.
The fourth-year Irish coach said Kiel made an extensive list of both national and regional programs that he might transfer to, with Kelly giving him fair leeway about which potential future landing spots he could seek out.
"I don't think it was a restriction as much as we had an open conversation about the schools," Kelly said. "Again, I think the schools that he was looking at were in line with the schools that I thought were appropriate relative to who was on our schedule. "