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Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly interviewed for vacant Eagles job

SOUTH BEND IN - SEPTEMBER 22: Head coach Brian Kelly Notre Dame Fighting Irish watches along with his team as

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 22: Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish watches along with his team as the Irish take on the Michigan Wolverines at Notre Dame Stadium on September 22, 2012 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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Updated: January 10, 2013 12:32PM

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly sat before dozens of reporters Saturday and said that “leaving is not an option.” Two days later, after the Irish’s 42-14 loss to Alabama in the BCS championship game, Kelly sat before dozens of reporters and talked about “the next step,” which was leading the Irish “over the top.”

Mere hours after that, Kelly sat before Philadelphia Eagles officials Tuesday and interviewed for their vacant head-coaching position, a league source confirmed.

The Eagles, recently spurned by Oregon coach Chip Kelly, have genuine interest in the Notre Dame coach, who took the Irish to a 12-0 season and the national title game in just his third season. The question is whether the feeling is mutual or whether Kelly is leveraging the Eagles to get a contract extension and a raise.

During media day Saturday in Miami Gardens, Fla., Kelly was repeatedly asked about his future. Kelly danced around the issue for a while, saying that he didn’t know if there was any interest in him, and that if there was, it was only “flattering.” But after being pressed by reporters, he relented.

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

But he never specifically said he’d be back in South Bend, Ind., next season. And he didn’t slam the door shut on the NFL, either.

“For me to say I’ll never coach in the NFL — I have no idea,” he said. “I’m not trying to be evasive. It’s the truth of the matter. It’s all about timing.”

If he’s simply giving Notre Dame something to think about in an effort to get a raise — either for him or for his assistants or both — it likely will work. Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick made it abundantly clear last week that the university would do whatever it could to lock up Kelly in the long term.

Kelly, who makes about $3 million a year, is signed through 2016. He received a two-year extension after last season.

“I’m really confident that Brian enjoys his experience at Notre Dame, and when we’re past [the title game] we’ll sit down and talk about securing that future,” Swarbrick said Sunday. “We love having him, and he loves being at Notre Dame.”

Swarbrick said everything is “on the table” for that process.

Kelly’s rise from Division II coach to NFL candidate has been as meteoric as his team’s rise this past season. After 13 seasons at Grand Valley State — he won the national title the last two — he spent three years at Central Michigan and four years at Cincinnati, taking the Bearcats to back-to-back BCS bowls, before replacing Charlie Weis at Notre Dame after the 2009 season. After two consecutive eight-win seasons, the Irish went 12-0 and rose to No. 1 in the country before the humbling loss to Alabama on Monday.

Kelly, an Irish Catholic kid from Boston, called Notre Dame his “dream job” when he was hired and reiterated it Saturday.

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

Contributing: Sean Jensen

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