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Commentary: Is Notre Dame's Kelly latest rent-a-coach?

By JIM LITKE, AP Sports Columnist Published: January 11, 2013
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To be fair, despite a sometimes-rocky start, Kelly has been good for Notre Dame. After cameras caught him browbeating players on the sideline, he promised to tone down his act and did. His initial response to allegations of sexual assault against one of his players, as well as the accidental death of a student videographer who was filming football practice in 2010 was callous — at best. But he's learned to better handle the responsibility that comes with Notre Dame's exalted place in the college game since.

Kelly has also made the Irish program seem relevant again, a perception that's been reinforced by a 2013 recruiting class rated among the top three in the nation.

Exactly why he chose to introduce a wrinkle into what looked like a comfortable relationship is something only Kelly can answer, and he took off on vacation before anyone had a chance to pose the question. Swarbrick, too, has declined to comment since reports of Kelly's interview with the Eagles surfaced, but he knew his coach's reputation as a “climber” before he hired him. Kelly stuck around for 13 seasons in his first job, building Grand Valley State into a Division II powerhouse, but his stints at Central Michigan and Cincinnati lasted only three full seasons in both places.

That's hardly proof of a pattern, though something else Kelly said on the eve of the national championship game suggests it might be.

“When I took the job at Notre Dame, I think I said it was a dream job. But I never went around day to day saying anything about being the Notre Dame head coach, because the job that I had in hand was what I was thinking about.

“And I think,” Kelly added, though it sounds a lot less reassuring now than it did at the time, “that's the same thing with the NFL.”


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