Brian Kelly’s NFL soap opera continues

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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.

Illinois boots three players charged with home invasion and robbery

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Illinois head coach Lovie Smith has dismissed three players charged with home invasion and robbery. Offensive linemen Darta Lee and Howard Watkins and tight end Zarrian Holcombe have all been dismissed from the program, according to a statement.

Lee and Holcombe were previously suspended by Smith for violations of team rules. Watkins had also been indefinitely suspended following the initial allegations. All three players claimed the incident that led to the charges was nothing more than an innocent prank, but the authorities and Smith didn’t seem willing to buy that claim.

Each player faces a mandatory prison sentence of 4-15 years on each count against them if found guilty.

Report: Conference USA to air at least 15 football games on Twitter in 2017

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Conference USA is in a position where it needs to think outside the box and look to stay ahead of the curve in a changing TV landscape. It appears to be ready to air games on Twitter in 2017.

A report from The Virginian-Pilot says broadcast company STADIUM will air at least 15 football games involving Conference USA teams this fall. STADIUM is the result of a recent merger between the American Sports Network, 120 Sports and Silver Chalice (which also owns Campus Insiders and the online ACC Digital Network). The ASN had owned the broadcast rights to Conference USA games through the end of the 2017-2018 sports season that will carry over to the STADIUM deal (allowing for Conference USA basketball games to be aired on Twitter as well). It was announced earlier this month STADIUM intended to broadcast Conference USA games on Twitter, but it was unknown how many games might make it to the networking service. STADIUM reportedly has an interest in continuing to air Conference USA contests beyond the next athletic season.

Conference USA still has broadcast deals with ESPN and CBS Sports in effect as well, so don’t expect the premiere matchups in the conference to be aired on Twitter. However, by sharing the games online, Conference USA is hoping to reach a wide-spread audience and have the opportunity to be a trending topic. It could work, as Twitter would make sure the game is given a steady feed to allow for a pleasant viewing experience and fan interaction in real time.

Conference USA saw TV revenue take a big hit over the last year. Last summer, Conference USA’s television revenue reportedly dropped to just $2.8 million for the entire conference following realignment changes. Finding a home on a streaming platform now would be key for the conference’s future stability.

Alabama DC Jeremy Pruitt named son after former Tide linebackers Reuben Foster and Ryan Anderson

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It is not at all uncommon for children born in the state of Alabama to be named after Alabama football legends, but it is not every day you see a child of an Alabama coach receives a name inspired by former Alabama football players.

Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt announced the birth of his new son, Flynt Anderson-Foster Pruitt, on Twitter. Alabama fans will likely already know the connection to the new child’s name, as used the last names of two former Alabama football players to create the middle name of Anderson-Foster; Ryan Anderson and Reuben Foster.

Maybe this is more common than I’m aware of, but regardless of how often a coach names a child after former players, this is a testament to the relationship the Pruitt family established with both former Alabama linebackers. And now there will be a bond for years to come between the coach and his family and Anderson and Foster.

Helmet sticker to Al.com.

Wisconsin’s season tickets for 100th anniversary of Camp Randall are a thing of beauty

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The Wisconsin Badgers are gearing up for their 100th season playing home football game sin Camp Randall Stadium. As part of the season-long celebration, Wisconsin put some brilliant artistic detail into their season tickets for the 2017 season.

Each ticket to a home Wisconsin game is designed like a retro-style program. These are beautifully done and mimic the style of a program cover from decades past. I’m particularly fond of the program cover for the Purdue game, which features Wisconsin’s Bucky floating in space with a ship with the Purdue logo nearby. Is that a space train? The Band Day program for the game against Florida Atlantic also looks fantastic.

These tickets will surely be must-have collectibles for Wisconsin fans. If Wisconsin wants to make a few extra bucks, then blowing up these images and selling them as posters may be a good decision as well. And I wouldn’t put it past Wisconsin to suit up in a retro-style uniform for at least home game this season in Madison.