Brian Kelly will return to Notre Dame in 2013 despite drawing interest from the NFL, according to John Heisler, a Notre Dame official (via Twitter):
Brian Kelly staying at Notre Dame—John Heisler (@NDHeisler) January 12, 2013
The Philadelphia Eagles were planning to interview Kelly for a second time, but the Fighting Irish coach seems to be content staying at Notre Dame.
Like Chip Kelly and Bill O’Brien, Kelly is opting to return to a college football program on the upswing, rather than make the leap to a troubled NFL franchise.
Despite the positives of Kelly returning, his NFL interest and interview with the Eagles has had some negative effects on the school’s impressive recruiting machinery. Potential top 2014 offensive lineman recruit Ross Pierschbacher picked Iowa, his home state school, over the Irish after the news of Kelly’s NFL interest broke, according to Rob Howe of HawkeyeInsider.com:
"It came down to Iowa and Notre Dame," Pierschbacher said. "Coach (Brian) Kelly interviewing with the NFL, that just got me thinking that I wanted to play for the coach I committed to. If he doesn't go this year, maybe he'll go the next year after that."
That’s why this news should prompt a collective sigh of relief across the Irish Nation.
Kelly’s commitment to the program he helped get back on the map should serve as reassurance to those recruits already committed and others still on the fence.
Four-star linebacker Alex Anzalone decommitted from Notre Dame and enrolled early at Florida after the news of Kelly’s interview with the Eagles went public, according to Mike Farrell of Rivals.com (via Twitter):
The loss of Anzalone and Pierschbacher certainly hurts, but the Irish should be fine with Kelly back in the saddle.
After all, they are building a perennial winner and those potential recruits—and recruits already committed—will take solace in understanding that the engineer of the program’s turnaround will still be in town.
Players don’t just commit to a school, they commit to an idea that is presented to them by a coach. His philosophy and direction are keys in making up the minds of potential recruits.
Not only that, but promises are made in private. Some potential recruits will shy away from a school at the very thought of their promises being voided by a new coach. Those promises, plans and ideas would be out the window, and a new coach would potentially come in and shape the program in his own image. That may or may not include the players the previous coach bequeathed to him. Every coach has different preferences in personnel.
Notre Dame’s recruits, and those still undecided, should rest easy now that Kelly is staying put in South Bend.