Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly helped turn the historic program's fortunes around last year with an undefeated regular season and a trip to the BCS National Championship game.
Now, Kelly and Notre Dame have agreed to an extension that will keep the iconic head coach in South Bend. Notre Dame Football announces the extension via Twitter:
From CBS' Bruce Feldman:
After leading Notre Dame back to the BCS title game in his third season in South Bend, Brian Kelly and the school have agreed to a new sweetened contract that will take him through the 2017 season, a source told CBSSports.com Saturday. The deal had been in the works since January.
As the Irish kicked off the season on Saturday, news broke of the school's decision to reward Kelly with the contract extension, which was to be officially announced after the game.
NBC Sports' Keith Arnold reported on the fresh development in the midst of Notre Dame's dominant 28-6 victory over Temple in South Bend:
Kelly rebuilt the Irish and still managed to go 8-5 in his first two seasons at the helm. The big breakthrough came in year three when Notre Dame finished 12-1, but the Irish unfortunately lost the BCS title game to the Alabama Crimson Tide, 42-14.
While replicating the success Notre Dame saw last year is a tall task, the powers that be in South Bend clearly have full confidence that the coach will get the job done.
Notre Dame lost All-American and Maxwell Award-winning linebacker Manti Te'o to the NFL, and dual-threat starting quarterback Everett Golson is suspended due to an academic violation.
What's encouraging about the first contest is that new starter Tommy Rees, who often spelled Golson in 2012, took the reins and played extremely well against the Owls. The senior completed 16 of 23 passes for a whopping 346 yards and three touchdowns without turning the ball over.
Defensively, the Irish seemed up to the task sans Te'o, limiting Temple to a touchdown with 1:01 left in the first half. Rees responded with a 66-yard TD toss to Troy Niklas.
Back in 2005, then-head coach Charlie Weis signed a 10-year deal that would have extended him through 2015. His production never quite impressed again after that, and his 16-21 record from 2007 to 2009 resulted in his firing that last year.
All indications are that this extension will be far more fruitful for the Irish—assuming Kelly doesn't flee to the NFL, which is something he considered this past offseason by agreeing to interviews. His decision to remain at Notre Dame gives him an opportunity to turn the historic program back into a team that contends for the national championship on a regular basis.
With Kelly at the helm through at least the 2017 season, Notre Dame can continue to build upon the incredible campaign it put together last year.