Brian Kelly To The NFL? Fine. Go.
Posted Jan 10, 2013

Notre Dame shouldn't have to pay extra to keep its head man.

E-mail Pete Fiutak
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Notre Dame, it's time to become the voice of reason. It's time for you to be the one to not be held hostage and not fall for the banana-in-the-tailpipe trick. Notre Dame, call the bluff.

Of course Brian Kelly is using the Philadelphia Eagles to try to get more money out of Notre Dame. Of course Kelly and his agent are playing the game. They'd be insane not to, and now it's up to Notre Dame to not be a part of it.


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Brian, thanks for making Notre Dame relevant again, and thanks for that whole 12-0 thing and the whopper of a BCS paycheck that the school gets to split just one way, but if you want to go to the NFL, if you want to go from being the master of all you survey to hoping beyond all reasonable hope that the Philadelphia Eagles will get better at playing professional football, then here's a peanut butter sandwich, a bus ticket and a pat on the butt on your way out the door.

Coaches are like goldfish. Flush one, go get another.

You'd think that colleges would realize that they're being played, but they all go along with it and almost all eventually end up giving lots of paper away to people who don't work for them.

Les Miles was never, ever going to take the Arkansas head coaching job, despite all the millions being thrown at him, but he and his agent were able to parlay the offer into a contract extension from LSU and a little bit of a boost.
That way to the NFL? Notre Dame shouldn't budge over Brian Kelly's posturing.

Mack Brown was never, ever going to retire, and he was never going to take off for another gig, but Texas still gave him a contract extension from 2016 to 2020, meaning the school is one 7-5 football season away from possibly being on the hook for more than $20 million that it didn't need to promise him.

Bill O'Brien was never, ever going to be hired by an NFL team this year, but the mere speculation was enough to get the rumors going -- all vehemently denied by O'Brien -- that he's receiving a "gift" just for being a swell guy, a snappy dresser, and to stick around as the Penn State head football coach.

It's one thing for a school to lock up a head coach to show recruits that the stability is there and to keep the right guy around, but as has been proven time and again, if a coach wants to take another job, he's going to take the other job -- cough ... Bobby Petrino ... Nick Saban ... cough -- no matter what the buyout and no matter what the extension is.

It doesn't matter who the college coach is; all coaches want the prestige of the NFL. Coaches dream of becoming the next Bear Bryant, and then when they realize that they can make it at the collegiate level, they dare to dream about being the next Vince Lombardi.

Some coaches take a sniff and then realize that the NFL might not be for them. Back when he ruled the Big Ten world, Barry Alvarez was close to taking over the St. Louis Rams job. He realized that the college ranks and the future at Wisconsin was better for him, and he was able to use the speculation to become more firmly entrenched at the school. Now he's the athletic director.

Though Urban Meyer has always been rumored for NFL openings, he has always been quick to squash them -- but he could jump to the next level any time he wants to. And now, it's part of the deal that the hot college coaches of the moment are going to be given a look, and they'll take it because the job interview alone makes them a whole bunch of money.

Chip Kelly said he's still comfortable in college, and however it worked out about how and why he didn't get either the Cleveland or Philadelphia opening, he's going to go to the next level because once that seed has been planted, it's not going anywhere. Nick Saban had adamantly said that he's going to finish up his head coaching career at Alabama, but even then it was hard to believe until the Browns announced the hiring of Rob Chudzinski as the new head coach -- considering how Saban said all the same things at LSU before bolting for the Miami Dolphins -- the speculation was still out there.

And that's not necessarily a bad thing. Colleges want to be known for being able to get coaches good enough to be desired by the NFL, but that doesn't mean they have to pay to keep their guys around. Doug Marrone parlayed two Pinstripe Bowl victories into the Buffalo Bills head coaching job. Syracuse can still go to mid-level bowl games without him.

Now it's Brian Kelly's turn. Unlike most coaches, he's saying he's keeping all of his options open -- and to be fair to him, he's not making any angry statements about never leaving his current job. He's playing the game, and at worst, the dance with the Eagles doesn't go anywhere and he returns to coach the biggest brand name in all of collegiate sports. At best, either he's off to the pros -- where Philly fans are going to hate him instantly for not yet taking the Eagles to the Super Bowl -- or he's going to get a salary bump of some sort from Notre Dame.

Or Notre Dame could just say no, you're under contract, now go coach.

The problem for the Irish is perception. The school famously had Urban Meyer at hello, and then said goodbye after an embarrassing contract offer that Florida was able to blow away without even trying. Notre Dame is Notre Dame, but coaches want to be paid. If the school doesn't play the game and give Kelly more money, it might be seen as cheap and it might have a harder time the next time it has to find a head man -- if Kelly isn't getting an extension after resurrecting the Irish, then the next guy will wonder what's in it for him if he succeeds. But it's also a chance for the school to take the right stand.

Notre Dame, dare Brian Kelly to leave. Dare him to whine about not being respected despite being paid millions. After a few mediocre years, before the season the school showed faith in him by extending the contract to 2016 -- but that was out of a desire to stabilize the program. Now it's about trying to squeeze out just a little bit more, and the chances are that at some point over the life of the current contract, the words hot seat will come up.

Ask Auburn what it's like to have to keep paying a guy who has one really awful season.

Ask Notre Dame what it has been like to write checks to Charlie Weis over the last few years.