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.

Kentucky’s Josh Allen adds fourth national trophy honor

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When it’s all said and done, Josh Allen is going to need a bigger trophy cabinet — or at least significantly expand his current one.

Monday, it was announced that the Kentucky senior was named as the 2018 recipient of the Jack Lambert Award. That trophy is handed out annually by the Touchdown Club of Columbus (OH) and given to the national linebacker of the year.

Previously this awards season, Allen had been named as the winner of the Bronko Nagurski Award (HERE) and Chuck Bednarik Award (HERE) as well as the recipient of the Ronnie Lott IMPACT Trophy (HERE). He also earned unanimous first-team All-American honors.

Allen’s 14 sacks this season set the football program’s single-season record, while his 28.5 career sacks are the most ever for a member of the Wildcats.

Utah State OC Troy Taylor named head coach at FCS Sacramento State

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For the second time since the 2018 regular season came to an end, Kyle Whittingham has seen one of his assistant coaches leave for a head-coaching job.

Exactly a week ago, Utah State announced that Utah associate head coach Gary Andersen was returning to again lead the Aggies.  Monday, Sacramento State announced that Troy Taylor has been hired as the FCS program’s next head football coach.

Taylor, who spent two seasons as Whittingham’s offensive coordinator, was the starting quarterback at Cal in the late eighties after playing his high school football in the state of California.  He also began his coaching career at the high school level near Sacramento.

“I am thrilled to be the new head football coach at Sacramento State,” Taylor said in a statement. “My family and I are excited to move back home and take on the challenge of building the Hornet Football program into something the city can be very proud. I want to thank President Nelsen, Mark Orr and the rest of the search committee for giving me this opportunity.”

With bowl season left, Utah is sixth in the Pac-12 and 67th nationally in scoring 28.7 points per game.  In Taylor’s first season in charge of the offense, they averaged 29.5 ppg.

Whittingham has already replaced Andersen with former Ute football player Sione Po’uha.

Nick Saban says Tua Tagovailoa ‘probably ahead of schedule’ in recovery from ankle surgery

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One of the biggest storylines leading into the 2018 College Football Playoff is the health of this year’s Heisman Trophy runner-up.  With Alabama’s date with Oklahoma less than two weeks away, the signs are pointing in a positive direction for Tua Tagovailoa.

The sophomore quarterback suffered a high-ankle sprain in Alabama’s SEC championship game win over Georgia two weeks ago and underwent surgery shortly thereafter to help aid the healing process.  Monday, Nick Saban sounded decidedly optimistic in giving an update on the status of his starter, who has participated at least partly in all four of the Crimson Tide’s practice session since the title game.

“He’s doing well,” the head coach said by way of ESPN.com. “I think he’s probably ahead of schedule. He’s been able to take a lot of reps. He’s been able to throw the ball from the pocket. He can run. …

“I don’t think he’s 100 percent in terms of change of direction yet. But he’s already going 100 percent on the gravity treadmill. So he’s been able to practice and he’s made really, really good progress. So we’re encouraged by that.”

Tagovailoa had been bothered by knee issues for a sizable chunk of the regular season before hurting his left ankle earlier this month.

Top-ranked Alabama will face Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray and Oklahoma in the Dec. 29 Orange Bowl, which this season is serving as one of the two playoff semifinals.  The winner of that game will face the Notre Dame-Clemson in the national championship game next month.

Justin Fields’ family says QB ‘hasn’t made a decision’ to transfer from Georgia

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Maybe the future quarterback situation in Athens isn’t as straightforward and black and white as it seemed earlier in the evening.

Monday night, it was reported that Justin Fields has notified Georgia of his intent to transfer.  Subsequent to that, ESPN.com reported that “Fields is exploring the possibility of transferring, though he hasn’t yet told the Bulldogs’ coaching staff that he’s leaving.”

Additionally, at least one member of Fields’ family told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that a decision hasn’t been made one way or the other.

Asked if she could confirm reports that her son intends to transfer from Georgia, Fields’ stepmother said she could not. But she also didn’t deny them.

“I’m not at liberty to discuss anything,” Jo Ann Claudrick Fields said via telephone Monday night. “We’re not confirming or denying anything. We haven’t made a decision.

Fields’ mother also told the Journal-Constitution to talk to the quarterback’s father, Ivant Fields, as “[h]e handles everything involving football.”

If the transfer were to come to fruition, ESPN reported that Florida State, Ohio State and Oklahoma would be potential landing spots.  That website also reports that Fields is expected to play in the Sugar Bowl for the Bulldogs.

Fields was rated by 247Sports.com as the No. 1 player regardless of position in the Class of 2018.  He spent his true freshman season as the primary backup to sophomore starter Jake Fromm.