By Adam Hoge-
(CBS) The silence coming from Brian Kelly is deafening.
Notre Dame’s head coach reportedly interviewed for the Philadelphia Eagles’ head coaching vacancy after Monday night’s title game and then left on vacation.
But the head coach at Notre Dame doesn’t just stay silent after an interview with an NFL team because he’s on vacation — especially when a highly touted linebacker decommitted from the Irish Thursday and switched to Florida.
A source with knowledge of the situation told CBSChicago.com that there are two major reasons for the silence: 1) Kelly is indeed “seriously debating” a move to the NFL, and 2) He doesn’t have an offer right now.
In other words, Kelly can’t make a clear cut choice between the NFL and the Fighting Irish at this moment because he doesn’t have a job to accept or turn down.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick is getting antsy. Swarbrick indicated to reporters Sunday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. that he is prepared to give Kelly a raise/extension, so you can understand why he’d be a little unhappy to hear his head coach interviewed with an NFL team and then bolted town.
“I’ve got the best job in the country, NFL, college, high school, whatever,” Kelly said last Saturday, once again calling the Irish job his “dream job.”
But he also vaguely shot down any interest from the NFL saying all inquiries go through his agent and he wasn’t aware of any interest.
“I don’t think about leaving because I don’t have that intention or feeling in my heart,” Kelly said before Monday’s title game. “Leaving is not an option. I don’t even think about it.”
So then why does leaving now appear to be an option?
Well, for one, Monday night’s 42-14 loss to Alabama served as a reality check for the entire Notre Dame program. Kelly did wonders to get the Irish in the BCS National Championship Game, but he still has a lot of work to do to close the gap with the SEC’s best, most notably the Crimson Tide, who could be even better next season. If Kelly has NFL aspirations, his stock may never be higher — just like his new expectations in South Bend. It’s not easy to go 12-0 in the regular season and duplicating that success next year is frankly, unlikely.
Then there’s the subject no one wants to talk about. Any success Kelly has in South Bend will come with a caveat. His critics won’t let him forget about the deaths of Declan Sullivan and Lizzy Seeberg.
So while it appears Kelly has a great thing going at Notre Dame, it may also be the best time for him to take the last step up the coaching ladder.
Meanwhile, the silence just grows louder.
For more college football coverage, follow Adam on Twitter at @AdamHogeCBS.