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COLUMN

Notre Dame coach has mishandled week in every way

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For more on college football, follow Tom Davis via Twitter at Tom101010.

Kelly's poor decisions weren't limited to Monday's game

Saturday, January 12, 2013 - 7:09 pm

It's hard to fathom having the ability to turn a week in which you've guided your team to the brink of a national championship, vacationed overseas with your family, and been courted by an NFL franchise, into a negative one, but darned if Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly hasn't done so.

If you believe Kelly's handling of the Alabama offense in Monday's BCS National Championship Game was poor, then his decision making in its aftermath has been abominable.

The coach that has often been lauded for an incredible attention to detail, hasn't devoted much thought to how his decisions throughout this week will be viewed by Notre Dame fans, alumni, administrators, students, and future Fighting Irish players.

This past week should've been about reflection, and ultimately, tremendous satisfaction surrounding the program as it heads into an off-season filled with excitement. Instead, it has been filled with anxiety, shock, and for many, anger towards the coach – and it has absolutely nothing to do with Monday's defeat.

Obviously, Kelly is intrigued by coaching in the NFL, and this is why he chose to interview with the Philadelphia Eagles just hours after being manhandled by the Crimson Tide.

And that is fine.

However, what wasn't kosher with many was how he handled the matter.

If he genuinely wants to advance his career at the highest level, no one can begrudge him of that, it is his career. However, what he couldn't afford to do is to let the matter drag out over the course of a week and negate all of the positive emotions stemming from a national runner-up finish.

Kelly needed to have a conversation with the Eagles and come to a conclusion within 24 hours – one way or the other. His interviewing, then leaving the country and letting the situation take on a speculative life of its own throughout the national sports scene, was a terrible decision for him and his current football program.

There are several Irish recruits expected to enroll at the university on Tuesday and they and their families currently have no idea who will be molding those young lives over the next four years.

In addition, given Kelly's position, he should not have involved himself in the interview process in the first place. If he wants the job, that is fine. Go ahead and talk with the team and lay out your intentions and philosophies. But in being the football coach at Notre Dame, coming off an appearance in the national championship game, he shouldn't have needed to interview.

Nearly 27 million people watched Kelly coach on Monday. The Irish are the most renowned collegiate program in the country, including Alabama. He meets with the media four times each week. There are no questions about how he handles himself and his team that the Eagles could not have already gotten answers to. Kelly and this program have the stature necessary to simply accept or reject the opportunity.

Philadelphia is reportedly spending today interviewing Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. In addition, the Eagles' leadership will meet with Cincinnati assistant coach Jay Gruden on Monday. As it turns out, Kelly is just one of seven candidates to be granted an interview for this position.

If the Irish Nation feels that Monday's loss was embarrassing, how will they feel when Philadelphia hires Gruden (not that one) over Kelly?

Terrible, is the answer to that question.

Monday's game should have been a defining moment in the life and career of Kelly. Given his actions ever since the clock read zero, it indeed has been.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Tom Davis at tdavis@news-sentinel.com.