Eagles Wake-Up Call: Making Sense Of the Brian Kelly Interest

The Eagles’ coaching search took a sharp left turn Wednesday night when reports surfaced that the team has expressed interest in Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly.

Kelly interviewed with the Birds on Tuesday, one day after the Fighting Irish were blown out by Alabama, 42-14, in the BCS title game.

Of all the candidates who have been linked to the Eagles – and there have now been 11 total – Kelly is perhaps the most surprising name. He said as recently as last week that leaving was “not an option.” But as we know by now, what coaches say and what they do can be two different things.

So the obvious question is this: Is Kelly just leveraging NFL interest into a more favorable deal at Notre Dame? We’ve already seen Bill O’Brien and Chip Kelly interview with NFL teams before going back to their respective college gigs. Is Brian Kelly doing the same thing?

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbick recently talked about what he could do to keep Kelly. From the Chicago Tribune:

“Everything that goes into the program is on the table when we have those discussions,” Swarbrick said, when asked if a raise or extension would be part of his postseason talks with Kelly.

“Every year when we’re done, we talk about what the program needs. It’s been reflected in staff hires and equipment and all kinds of things that you do to make sure the program has the resources it needs to go forward. We go through a laundry list of those.”

So, perhaps that’s all it is. Kelly is playing the game like others before him.

But there’s always the possibility that he’s ready to make the leap. He spent three seasons at Central Michigan (2004-2006) and then made the move to Cincinnati. He spent three seasons there (2007-2009) and then landed the Notre Dame job. He’s spent three seasons in South Bend, and well, you get the picture.

Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports doesn’t buy the idea that Kelly is just looking to negotiate a better deal at Notre Dame:

The thing is Kelly was already going to get paid. He was already in the perfect position. He restored Notre Dame, bringing joy to one of the wealthiest alumni bases in major college football. He’d earned his raise.

No, the interest in the NFL is real. It’s always been real, the ultimate spot for an upwardly mobile coach.

Wetzel’s argument makes a lot of sense. Kelly just led Notre Dame to the BCS title game. Wasn’t he already operating from a position of strength if all he wants is a better deal from the university?

From the Eagles’ perspective, the interest in Kelly tells us a couple things. Number one, they don’t plan on leaving any stone unturned (this side of Jon Gruden, that is).

And number two, this coaching search is completely wide-open. It appears Jeffrey Lurie had Chip Kelly and O’Brien at the top of his list. After them, the candidates are lumped together. And they come in all different shapes and sizes – from the college ranks (Brian Kelly) to NFL second-chancers (Lovie Smith) to up-and-coming coordinators (Gus Bradley).

The search is going to be exhaustive and thorough. And with the way things are developing, Brian Kelly might not be the last surprise name on the list.


Tim’s got more details on the interest in Kelly.

There were rumors that Jon Gruden was in town yesterday. T-Mac looked into them.

I took a break from the coaching search and offered up three playoff thoughts with an Eagles slant.

Howie Roseman talked to the Eagles’ Web site about the coaching search.

Greg Roman could be drawing some interest, and Mike Pettine is headed to Buffalo.

Tim looks at the philosophical decision between established candidates and unknowns.


Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com is skeptical of Kelly’s motives:

One longtime general manager says he generally stays away from trying to hire college coaches because you rarely know what they really want — do they want to go to the pros or use the pros to better their situation in college?

The NFL is a huge cash cow and not just for players or coaches but for college coaches looking for a raise. A great college coach leaks word about an NFL interview and boosters show up and ask: How would you like your extra cash? Stock options OK?

From SI.com’s Pete Thamel:

ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen report that the Eagles and Kelly have agreed to revisit talks when he gets back from vacation this weekend.


I have a hunch we’ll come up with something to talk about.

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  • dislikedisqus

    He must remind them of Andy Reid, the way he took his team to the championship game and lost.

  • Docboy

    Don’t care too much for Kelly in Philly ( unless we’re talking about the uniform!) it’s Gus or BUST!

    • Johngiam

      Gus or Bust, attaboy!!!!! This is a joke. There is nothing worse then bleeding green for a team who’s owner and GM you have zero trust in…..all the fans wanted CHANGE, because we all so Andy’s shortcomings and all knew there were some guys out there that we would love to have as our next coach….I think most of us forgot what a crappy owner we have, and pretty much forgot that whoever we wanted as a coach, Lurie would give us the exact opposite. I can assure you that if Brian Kelly is hired, IM DONE! Hire Brian Kelly and I will trade in my Eagles green for Seahawks blue, or cincanatti orange…..as fans, we are traumatized by this owner. as soon as a terrible name pops up, right away that’s who I expect Lurie to sign. I can’t even believe we wasted time or resources interviewing stinkin Brian Kelly. …It’s not easy being a die hard fan of a franchise that you have zero trust in the decision makers. bian Kelly? Like are you kidding me? I would rather have 3 more years of Andy the. This guy!

      When the hell are we going to interview Gus? This is getting on my nerves

      • Guest

        I hope they hire Kelly and you stay true to your word. Goodbye!

        • Johngiam

          U think I wouldn’t? You think I’m some some mindless sheep who is supposed to just take it, and say thank you? Get a clue…you can settle for crap. I expect more out of a franchise I been purchasing season tickets from for the past 7 years

          • nd

            Season tickets? Thats funny. In a prevous post you said how hard it is to watch games bc your out of the country.

          • Johngiam

            In a previous post, you wrote….who the hell knows what you wrote? No one pays attention hahahahaha have a great day troll…back to football

          • nd

            Thats funny. You have been purchasing season tickets for 7 years yet in a previous post you said how hard it is for you watch games bc you live out.of the country? Do you fly in every game? Stop writing essays and get a clue yourself

          • Johngiam

            I lived in Rome for 1 and a half years Genius..missed one season, 2010 the year Vick went bannanas…If you’re out of the country for one year, you don’t give up your season tickets…any clue how hard it was to get them to begin with lol?

  • 85

    I swear they’re going out of their way to find someone I’ll hate…

    • Johngiam

      It’s a joke isn’t it? It’s so hard to love a team who’s owner you have zero trust in. I hope I live to see the day that Lurie sells the team

  • Wilbert M.

    Against Alabama, on 4th and 4 (score 21-0), Notre Dame sent all receivers deep. Pass incomplete, turned it over on downs and the rout was on. It was a stupid play call and one I’ve seen Andy/Marty make many times. He also seems like he could easily be more arrogant than Andy ever was. So, maybe Kelly is Eagles material.

    • borntosuffer

      At 21-0, the rout was already on. Although, the play call can certainly
      be questioned. I am sure the D-coordinator would have liked to have
      seen a first down there so his D could get a breather.

  • Tom

    Wow, what you fail to see is that within three years he had all of those team members showing him respect, took them to bowl games, and may have lost the National Championship, but his team never flat-out gave up. The way you react to the possible hiring of a coach that is TRULY respected by his players, that manages to get the best out of them, that does a good job of evaluating players (doesn’t Notre Dame have a few of the top recruits in the country?) is ludicrous. Do your research. Don’t just judge from one game.

    • Wilbert M.

      I like the character that Kelly showed by bailing out on his undefeated Cincinnati team prior to their bowl game. I know its the way college football operates, but there had to be a better way.

      • borntosuffer

        Yea, I hate that stuff. Don’t even like the thought of Saban. And the Seattle coach gets on my nerves as well.

  • The Guru

    Are the Eagles going to interview anyone they actually intend to hire? Or are they just going to allow these guys to parlay the interview into more money and be used like they have no idea what’s going on? And the two guys they should be kicking the tires on haven’t heard a word from them (Cowher and Gruden).

    If this is any indication of how this front office intends to do things, these next few years are going to be Braman-ish.

    • Johngiam

      It’s scary when you have no trust in an owner or GM. What a circle jerk of a joke this has turned out to be. When the hell are we going to interview Gus? He has been granted an interview ten days ago for crying out loud…can we interview him already so he can blow these two idiot, Lurie, howie away! I’m tired of this. just interview Gus already so I can have some damn peace

      • The Guru

        I’m with you. I have zero confidence the Big 3 making this decision. I’m totally fine with taking your time and I don’t think there’s any need to rush things. But, interviewing 11 coaches who have no possibility of getting this job is a complete waste of time. Can you imagine Lurie trying to sell this fan base of Lovie Smith?

        The problem here is Howie Roseman. They want to hire a coach who’s not going to take any of Howie’s power. I guarantee you that’s why no Cowher or Gruden….and why no college coach has any interest. They will never come out and say that, but that’s the only explanation behind interviewing turds like Mike Nolan, Lovie Smith, Jay Gruden, and Bruce Arians. They come cheap and don’t command personnel decision making.

        And now with Jacksonville firing Mularky, Greg Roman is now off the table too (most likely).

        • Johngiam

          ABSOLUTELY!!!! Spot on!

          We can’t Get Cowher or Gruden, solely because of HOWIE..and the same exact thing happened with Chip n Obrien….We have an owner who cares more about preserving Howies power, then getting the guy who has the best chance at taking us to the promised land. people argue, give Lurie a chance, look how he discovered Andy..REVISIONIST HISTORY!!! Lol Andy was Lurie’s 5th choice lol.

          • JTR

            It’s amazing how upset you get over something that is pure speculation. You have no idea if what you are saying about Lurie/Howie is true, yet you are up in arms about it. You have NO IDEA why we didn’t get Chip or Obrien, nor do you have any idea what is going on behind the scenes regarding Cowher and Gruden…don’t let that stop you from forming an opinion that makes you angry though…

          • FMWarner

            This might be my favorite post ever.

      • nd

        Thats funny
        In a previous post you wrote how difficult it is for you to watch games bc your out of the.country. Do you fly in for every game? Stop writing essays and get a clue yourself

  • Johngiam

    Tim, Sheil, anyone…please tell me when the F we will finally interview Gus so he can blow Tweedle dee and dweedle dumb away!?

    • Graham


    • Bob A

      He’ll be the most famous groundhog in PA. Seriously though, I agree with you on Lurie and Roseman, you just have to hope they trip over a good coach like they (well Lurie, anyway) did in 1999.

  • borntosuffer

    “And number two, this coaching search is completely wide-open. It appears Jeffrey Lurie had Chip Kelly and O’Brien at the top of his list. After them, the candidates are lumped together.” – Exactly what I was thinking. So, it must be correct. I think Lurie is building a coaching “book” on coaches that isn’t just about the next coach he hires. What better thing could he do with his time for the Eagles? That assumes he will make the correct decision based on what is in front of him. But, I applaud the effort.

    • FMWarner

      I agree. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being thorough. And I’m sick and tired of hearing about Jon Gruden. What is the hold that this man has on this city? I hope I’m wrong, but I think it’s just because Philly fans want a coach that’s like them – Gruden has bluster and comes off as a tough guy. I don’t think Philly fans care as much about how successful a coach might be as long as he’s a TOUGH GUY. They have no patience for cerebral coaches, never did.

      • borntosuffer

        Yea, I am not a Jon Gruden fan myself.

  • JTR

    Say what you want about how long it took to let Reid go (and I’ll prob. agree with you), but the hiring of Reid was a good move. If there is one thing I trust the FO to do it is to pick the right coach. Give this thing some time, and try not to overreact to every report that’s floated about who was interviewed and who wasn’t. Short of hiring Marty (or someone equally absurd) to be the HC, all judgements on who is eventually hired should be reserved for a year or two in to the campaign.

    • Johngiam

      Andy Reid was Lurie’s 5th choice!!!

      • JTR


  • Johngiam

    Why can’t we just hire Gus and put this silly crap to bed!

  • Mrkraxx

    I feel like we are trying to suck at this point. How in the world is anyone we have interviewed better than Gruden at hc and Lovie at DC. You spent that much money and then some on nnamdi. Pay people who are good at tgeir jobs and have proven it.

  • Mr. Magee

    I think Kelly is enough of a turd to take the leap… we can only hope Lurie doesn’t hire him. Don’t know what the upside was in talking to him; it’s clear at this point that Lurie has infatuation with college coaches (especially those without nfl experience).

  • peteike

    The impatience from fans and media in this search is nauseating. I love how people pretend to know who will be the next good coach. Let me clue you in, you know nothing. In fact, Kelly has been really successful everywhere he’s been. In terms of coaching players up and discipline he’s probably great. He’s not a top choice for me, but that doesnt mean much. At least I can admit that, you should try to do the same. Pretending to know which guy will pan out at the next level whether assistant or college, or even prior coach is ludicrous. You have a tad more on the prior coaches but even then, the game and schemes are constantly changing. Belichick is so good because he constantly adapts, oh and Tom Brady helps. Stop kidding yourselves, at least have fun with it, this is the change all the fans wanted yet who they interview (which is almost everyone) is wrong according to you and its still ongoing. Its comical reading the comment sections.