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Title-hungry Notre Dame only looking forward in quest to get back

Discover BCS National Championship - Head Coaches Press Conference

Discover BCS National Championship - Head Coaches Press Conference

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Updated: September 4, 2013 6:17AM

South Bend, Ind. — Notre Dame got back in the national title conversation last season. The process of remaining in the discussion begins when the Irish open practice Monday.

‘‘For us here at Notre Dame, we’ve worked hard to put ourselves in a position to be back in the national spotlight,” coach Brian Kelly said Friday. ‘‘We have no intention of giving that up. Our focus since our last game has been to get back to the top of the mountain.’’

That last game was the BCS national title game, which the Irish lost to Alabama 42-14. A lot has happened since then, including Kelly’s brief flirtation with the Philadelphia Eagles and quarterback Everett Golson’s suspension. Kelly said the Irish handled the offseason issues by putting them ‘‘in the rearview mirror the next day.’’

‘‘We don’t even think about it, don’t even talk about it,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s history.’’

Kelly did talk about the prospect of a new contract, saying a deal was ‘‘imminent.’’ An agreement in principle was reached in December, Kelly said, but the details still need to be worked out. In January 2012, the school announced a two-year extension for Kelly through 2016.

‘‘We had an agreement,’’ Kelly said. ‘‘There’s just legal language — nothing that has put me in a position, or the university, that we don’t have an agreement moving forward for a number of years.”

Move forward — that’s what the team intends to do, too.

‘‘Our kids believe in what we do and how we do it,’’ Kelly said. ‘‘There’s a way of doing things here. So that never goes away. That has permeated this football program, the way we do things on a day‑to‑day basis, the expectations of how we play defense, offense and special teams, how we prepare. That will never go away.

‘‘But the players that were here last year that are no longer here are not part of this team anymore. The plays that were made last year have no influence on this year. So that’s the balance. The preparation has to be as diligent and keen as it was last year. You’re maintaining the environment, you’re maintaining what has been built in the program, with the recognition that we have more work to do, we’re still building this thing. A lot of those pieces are still coming together.”

That’s where opening camp away from campus comes into play. The Irish will hold four practices at Shiloh Park and Convention Center in Marion, Ind., before heading back to South Bend on Aug. 9.

‘‘It’s a collection of new personalities,’’ Kelly said. ‘‘You can’t live in the past. We want to talk about this year. What we need to do is get prepared. The second part of that is no distractions. It’s all football. Don’t have to worry about getting to math class. We don’t need to worry about guys off campus. We’re all together. It’s 100 percent being around each other and our football team.’’

NOTE: Linebacker Richard Yeargin III, a four-star recruit from University School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., verbally committed to Notre Dame. The 6-3, 216-pound Yeargin is the 16th member of Notre Dame’s Class of 2014.

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