Brian Kelly talks about Manti Te’o and the Eagles job
BY NEIL HAYES firstname.lastname@example.org January 29, 2013 12:54PM
FILE - In this Nov. 17, 2012, file photo, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, right, pats coach Brian Kelly on the back after Te'o left the game during the second half of an NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind. Kelly, talking to the media for the first time since the BCS title game, is expected to talk about his interview with the Philadelphia Eagles and the Te'o situation during a teleconference Tuesday. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)
Updated: March 2, 2013 6:58AM
Brian Kelly weighed in on the Manti Te’o controversy and said he remains committed to the Fighting Irish long-term despite his flirtation with the Philadelphia Eagles during his first offseason conference call Tuesday.
The Notre Dame coach said he didn’t believe the unfolding scandal related to an alleged hoax concerning Te’o’s nonexistent girlfriend had a negative impact on his star linebacker leading up to the BCS Championship Game.
“I didn’t sense it really,” he said. “Manti is a young man that continued to lead and you don’t really see him, because he obviously when through a tough time during the year, and we really didn’t see anything that would set off an alarm that he was under so much pressure concerning the situation. I just didn’t see it.”
Later, Kelly acknowledged the brewing controversy may have been a factor in Te’o playing by far his worst game of the season in a 42-14 drubbing by Alabama.
“Hindsight is 20/20,” Kelly said. “I didn’t think going into the game he was affected by it but he didn’t play is best. Alabama had something to say about, that obviously. I don’t know. It’s a lot of weight on the shoulders of somebody.”
Kelly said he had more of a discussion with Jeffrey Lurie than a full-fledged interview after the Eagles owner contacted him about replacing Andy Reid. He said he had never interviewed for an NFL head coaching job before and what he learned solidified his desire to remain at the college level.
“It’s not what I want to do,” Kelly said. “I want to be a college football coach.”
Kelly released a statement expressing his desire to remain at Notre Dame four days after interviewing with the Eagles. He said he now regrets that he didn’t release the statement earlier.
As for Te’o, Kelly said the scandal shouldn’t impact his legacy at Notre Dame.
“Manti will be remembered as a great leader on our football team,” Kelly said. “On an undefeated team at Notre Dame, he showed the way for how to be a great teammate, his work ethic, his commitment, all those things. For me, he’ll be, in my eyes, one of the very great teammates I’ve ever had in 22 years of coaching. He was special to coach and he did all the things I think great players have to do on a day-to-day basis and we’re going to continue to hold him in that kind of esteem.”