Brian Kelly’s NFL soap opera continues


It remains unclear whether Brian Kelly will leave Notre Dame after just three seasons for a job at the professional level.  One way or another, though, his future should be resolved over the next 48 hours or so.

Wednesday, it was reported that Kelly had met with the Philadelphia Eagles about their coaching vacancy at some point after Notre Dame’s BCS title game loss to Alabama Monday.  The initial conversation went well enough that another meeting was scheduled for this weekend when Kelly returned from a vacation out of the country.

Many thought the leak was merely a ploy on the part of Kelly and/or his agent to wring every last dollar out of Notre Dame as he/they could.  The fact that Kelly continues to speak to NFL personnel about the rigors of the job in that league, as the Chicago Tribune reports, suggests this is more than just flirtation aimed at some type of financial enhancement.

Indeed, athletic director Jack Swarbrick heavily intimated before the Irish’s soul-crushing loss to the Tide that money would be no object in keeping Kelly in South Bend, which would seem to mitigate the financial angle somewhat.

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

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

Kelly currently makes in the neighborhood of $3 million a year, and received a two-year contract extension last January, triggered by a clause in his original deal, last January that technically would keep him with the Irish through the 2016 season.

That’s provided, of course, he makes it that long.  The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Kelly is one of the frontrunners for the Eagles job, along with Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley.  According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, Kelly returns to the United States today and, barring an unexpected turn, will meet with the Eagles a second time.

Per the Tribune, a team meeting of some sort is tentatively scheduled for Monday, which suggests a conclusion one way or the other is in the offing by the close of business Sunday.

Well, a conclusion for this year at least. “A source close to Kelly believes he will end up in the NFL someday,” the South Bend Tribune wrote Friday night.  That sentiment is shared by many, with more than a handful of individuals looking at Kelly and the NFL as a when, not if proposition.

“All of that stuff intrigues me. … I never take any of that off the board,” Kelly said prior to the title game in regards to future NFL interest.  Again , when not if.

UPDATED 1:44 p.m. ET: For accounting purposes, Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune tweets that “Kelly never left US soil this week. Miami, Nashville, vacation here with wife, now Connecticut.”  So, there’s that.

Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa (thumb) returns to practice

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In the end, it appears to be much ado about (mostly) nothing.

Tuesday, after the reigning national champions had put the finishing touches on its first practice of the spring, Nick Saban confirmed that quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had suffered an unspecified injury to the thumb on his left (throwing) hand. It was expected that the quarterback would travel to Birmingham for further evaluation of the injury.

Wednesday, it was reported that the injury was believed to be just a sprain and that Tagovailoa could return to practice soon. That report proved prophetic as Tagovailoa was indeed back at practice Thursday, albeit on a limited basis.


The quarterback was not doing the normal drills with his teammates but was off to the side working with head athletic trainer Jeff Allen. It looked like they were testing Tagovailoa’s ability to grip the football since the injury was suffered on his throwing hand. He replicated a few play-action roll outs with the ball in his left hand. At one point, he rolled over toward where Jalen Hurts was standing and they high fived.

Until Tagovailoa is fully recovered, Jalen Hurts will take the majority of the reps as the Crimson Tide continues its march through their 15 spring practice sessions.

The rising true junior Hurts, who has started every game but one the past two seasons, and the rising true sophomore Tagovailoa, the national championship game hero who replaced Hurts at halftime of the overtime win, are entrenched in a competition for the starting job that, barring a post-spring transfer, is expected to extend into summer camp. That said, most observers outside of the UA football program fully expect Tagovailoa, because of his proficiency in the passing game relative to Hurts, to earn the job at some point before the Tide opens the defense of their title against Louisville in Orlando Sept. 1.

USC graduate transfer Jalen Greene heads east to play at Illinois in 2018

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Greene is turning orange. Well, Jalen Greene is at least.

The former USC wide receiver who announced he would pursue a graduate transfer earlier this month announced on Twitter that he would be heading East to play at Illinois in 2018. He will be immediately eligible to play for the Illini.

Greene was originally recruited by the Trojans as a dual-threat quarterback but eventually made the move to receiver. He caught eight passes for 98 yards at USC last season as a partial starter and added another eight receptions for 116 yards the year prior.

Illinois has already begun spring practice and has been trying several new players at wide receiver in the process to find a good complement to Mike Dudek on the outside. It seems Greene could find himself in the mix to be one of those guys when he arrives in Champaign.

Josh Heupel keeping most of Scott Frost’s playbook at UCF as spring practice begins

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There are a ton of interesting storylines as spring practice begins across the country but one of the most intriguing programs to watch might be in Orlando as UCF looks to simultaneously follow up an undefeated season while also transitioning to a new coaching staff.

ESPN’s Andrea Adelson wrote a good story on the Knights changing some things up under head coach Josh Heupel the past few months like eating with players during meals, new strength and conditioning regiments and the usual offseason stuff you typically wind up season. However there was one interesting nugget about the team’s playbook that the coach relayed:

In other areas, player input has kept a few things unchanged. Take the offensive playbook, for example. Heupel and (Scott) Frost share enough offensive concepts that the new staff has adopted the terminology that players already know on the plays they have in common. So in theory, that should allow the offense to hit spring practice, which started Tuesday, with much more familiarity than another program that has completely changed over its staff.

As they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. In Heupel’s first head coaching gig, it seems he’s taking that to heart.

David Beaty elevates Cassius Sendish from GA to Kansas safeties coach

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It didn’t take long nor did David Beaty have to look far for Kansas’ new safeties coach.

The school confirmed on Thursday morning that graduate assistant Cassius Sendish, a former Jayhawks team captain and defensive back, would be taking over as the team’s new safeties coach to complete the staff for 2018.

“I am honored and proud to represent the University of Kansas football program,” said Sendish in a statement. “I hold this place near and dear to my heart and I am truly grateful for the opportunity to work at my alma mater. I can’t thank Coach Beaty and the rest of the football staff enough for allowing me to come aboard and be a part of something special.”

Sendish replaces Todd Bradford on the staff after he made the rather head-turning move to leave coaching and take a new job in the oil industry. Recently hired Bill Miller will continue to coach linebackers while the newest hire will team up with defensive coordinator Clint Bowen to handle the secondary.

There will be plenty of time for everybody to settle into their new on-field roles as the Jayhawks will open up spring practice on March 31st.