- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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Brian Kelly met with this team Sunday night to address what has been anything but a slow offseason since Notre Dame's Jan. 7 loss to Alabama in the Discover BCS National Championship.
What he told them, though, was apparently the same thing he told reporters Tuesday morning during a half-hour conference call: The coach is at Notre Dame to stay, and coaching in the NFL is not something he wants to do.
"I'm not going to get into the specifics of everything, but here's what I can tell you: The interview, so to speak, as people have talked about, was really a discussion that I had with Jeff Lurie of the Philadelphia Eagles and his leadership team," Kelly said. "I will tell you that the discussion was more about intrigue on my part. I had obviously always been in the college game, really did not have a good grasp of the NFL setup, and so for me, my head said, 'Let's be more informed as it relates to the NFL.'
"But my heart is in college football and with Notre Dame. So I think the recruits, I tell them up front that I'm committed to Notre Dame, flattered that the NFL would want me to be one of their coaches, but it's just, it's not what I want to do. I want to be a college football coach and really just was really happy and flushed that the Eagles would give me the opportunity to sit down and talk to them. Very much appreciate Jeff Lurie for the opportunity. But as I said, it's more intrigue than it was an interest on my part."
Kelly said the Eagles contacted Irish athletic director Jack Swarbrick about their opening shortly after firing Andy Reid, with Swarbrick and Kelly agreeing that, if there were to be any contact with the organization, it would not come until after the title game.
Philadelphia and Kelly spoke the day after the title game, and Kelly did not announce his intentions to stay at Notre Dame until four days later, by which point four-star linebacker Alex Anzalone (Wyomissing, Pa./Wyomissing) had decommitted from the Irish and enrolled early at Florida.
Kelly expressed some regret with how he handled the situation publicly.
"If there was anything I would've done differently, it would've been to close that timeline relative to my interview and coming out with a statement," he said. "I was on vacation with my wife. We were away. We weren't watching TV. But I should've been more sensitive to the fact that there was this time period that had been going on and released a statement much sooner."
As it relates to a contract extension and securing the long-term future of Notre Dame football, Kelly said he has been in touch with Swarbrick since Dec. 6, with both seeing eye-to-eye in desiring the extended consistency of a program that has upward of 17 starters returning from an undefeated regular season.
Part of the NFL dalliance, Kelly said, was so that he can avoid similar situations in future years.
Future winning years.
"I just didn't know anything about it, really," Kelly said. "Again, as I said, college is all that I've been involved in. I really didn't understand the NFL process, the game, who was involved in the day-to-day operations of selecting the team, all those things. And quite frankly I wanted to answer those so I wouldn't have to go through this, because we're going to win again next year. There's probably going to be teams that are going to have an interest in coaching in the NFL, and I want to be able to tell them definitively that I want to coach in college.
"And the interview was more about, I wanted that information. So it was easy for me to make a decision on being here in the college game. I love Notre Dame. I love the college game. But I think the intrigue was more of just finding out about it, so it's now easy for me to say no."
3hSharon Katz, ESPN Stats & Information