Brian Kelly Staying Put; Now What?

We can scratch another name off the Eagles’ list.

Brian Kelly is staying put at Notre Dame, the school announced Saturday.

“This week, I had an incredible opportunity to speak with one of the premier organizations in sports about becoming their head coach,” Kelly said in a statement. “Like every kid who has ever put on a pair of football cleats, I have had thoughts about being a part of the NFL. However, after much reflection and conversation with those closest to me, I have decided to remain at Notre Dame.”

Bruce Feldman of CBSSports.com first reported the news.

Earlier in the day, the Eagles were rumored to be going “all-in” on Kelly. But he will not be the team’s next head coach.

In the past two weeks, the team has shown serious interest in Brian Kelly, Oregon’s Chip Kelly and Penn State’s Bill O’Brien, but all three coaches have decided to stay in the college ranks.

“There is no question we spent a considerable amount of time and effort looking at who we thought were the best collegiate candidates for our head coaching job,” the Eagles said in a statement. “We did so knowing that there was a remote chance that these coaches would leave their current posts.”

“We understood that going into the process, but we wanted to leave no stone unturned while trying to find the best head coach for the Philadelphia Eagles. We have no regrets about the effort we made in that direction and we will continue to proceed as planned in our search.”

The clear intention of the statement is to reinforce Jeffrey Lurie’s assertion that the Eagles job is among the best in the NFL.

So, where does the search go from here?

The Eagles were scheduled to interview Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley in Atlanta Saturday, a source confirmed. He would appear to be near the top of the list. The Eagles will also interview Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden on Monday and Bruce Arians on Tuesday, according to an NFL Network report.

The team has already interviewed Atlanta’s Mike Nolan, Atlanta’s Keith Armstrong, Denver’s Mike McCoy and former Bears coach Lovie Smith.

There are still five openings league-wide: Philadelphia, Arizona, Jacksonville, San Diego and Chicago. Lurie’s plan all along has been to be thorough. And now, there really appears to be no rush to name a new head coach.

Remember, Brian Kelly wasn’t thought to be on the Eagles’ radar until Wednesday night. So there could still be a mystery candidate. According to a report, the team at least inquired about Bill Cowher. And while the Eagles seem to be leaving no stone unturned, Jon Gruden has not yet been interviewed.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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