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Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly: ‘Leaving is not an option’

Discover BCS National Championship - MediDay

Discover BCS National Championship - Media Day

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Updated: February 7, 2013 6:49AM

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly didn’t say Saturday whether he or his agent has been contacted by any NFL teams looking for a coach. But after Kelly — ever the politician — danced around the issue for a while, he finally said the words Irish fans were hoping to hear.

“Leaving is not an option,” he said. “I don’t even think about it.”

Speculation around Kelly’s future has been high since seven NFL coaches recently were fired, including the Bears’ Lovie Smith. But Kelly, the Walter Camp coach of the year, said his focus is strictly on the national championship game Monday against Alabama.

“There’s a strict protocol for that; they have to contact my representation, and then they’ve got to follow through that,” Kelly said. “If that did occur, then all that stuff is secondary to this football game. This is the biggest game that I’ve ever been involved in, so my focus is 100 percent on this football game. All that other stuff, that happens when you’re winning football games. I’ve been through this a lot in my career. It’s flattering if there is interest — which I don’t know that there is — but again, that is such a secondary topic for me.”

Alabama coach Nick Saban, who had an ill-fated two-year stint as the Miami Dolphins coach in between jobs at LSU and Alabama, was more emphatic in shooting down any NFL rumors.

“I don’t have any unfinished business in the NFL,” he said. “It’s not even something I want to do.”

Kelly recalled that when he left Cincinnati for Notre Dame a little more than three years ago, he called it his “dream job.” He said that hasn’t changed.

“I think, from my perspective, I’ve got the best job in the country — NFL, college, high school, whatever,” he said.

As for the future, Kelly and his staff have talked about it. But, he said, it has been all about Notre Dame’s future, not Kelly’s, wherever it might lead.

“For three or four days here, I’ve been talking about our 2013-14 recruiting class,” he said. “I’m talking about getting back here, about consistency. Those are the things I think about. I don’t think about leaving because I don’t have that intention or feeling in my heart.”

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