Brian Kelly has done the legwork in restoring the glory of Notre Dame football, now he wants to complete the task.
Following a week of speculation about his future, the third-year Notre Dame football coach announced Saturday that he'd be back for a fourth.
“After much reflection and conversation with those closest to me,” Kelly said in a release. “I have decided to remain at Notre Dame.”
Following Monday's BCS National Championship Game, in which the Fighting Irish fell 42-14 to Alabama, Kelly interviewed for the same position with the Philadelphia Eagles on Tuesday.
"This week, I had an incredible opportunity to speak with one of the premier organizations in sports about becoming their head coach,” Kelly said. “Like every kid who has ever put on a pair of football cleats, I have had thoughts about being a part of the NFL.”
Kelly then went on vacation with his family and upon his return, felt it would be in his personal and professional best interests to continue building the program at Notre Dame.
“This decision was motivated purely by my love for Notre Dame and the entire Fighting Irish community,” Kelly said. “The young men I have the great fortune to coach, and my desire to continue to build the best football program in the country.”
Kelly guided the Irish to the No. 3 ranking overall to close the 2012 season, after his team finished 12-1.
Notre Dame is currently being rated as having the best class of 2013 recruiting class and returns 14 of its 22 starters (based on eligibility remaining).
“We still have a lot of work to do,” Kelly said. “My staff and I are excited about the challenges ahead.”
Kelly became only the second Irish coach to win 12 games in a season (Lou Holtz also did it in 1988) and now stands 28-11 in his three seasons in South Bend. No Notre Dame coach has ever won more than 28 games in his first three years as Notre Dame head coach (Dan Devine also won 28 in 1975-77).
The Notre Dame football program also ranked number one among all Football Bowl Subdivision programs in the most recent NCAA Graduation Success Rate figures released in October—as the Irish became the first team to be ranked number one in the football polls and also first in graduation rates and play for the BCS title.
“I was always confident that Brian would continue to lead our football program,” Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said. “I am very happy to have that confirmed and share Brian's excitement about what lies ahead for our program.
Swarbrick expressed that confidence even in the early stages of this process. Immediately following the game, he told The News-Sentinel that he “was not worried” about the NFL overtures toward his coach.
“I appreciate the Eagles reaching out to request permission to speak with Brian,” Swarbrick said on Saturday. “I also appreciate Brian keeping me fully informed throughout this process. We all look forward to what's ahead for Notre Dame football.”