Notre Dame finished this season with a 4-8 record, its worst mark since 2007, leaving head coach Brian Kelly's future with the program up in the air.
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Kelly's NFL Overtures Reportedly Turned Down
Thursday, Dec. 29
Pro Football Weekly reported that "Kelly’s representatives are on speed dial with every team in the league trying to find one that might have interest in Kelly as their next head coach. But not only are there no takers, there apparently is no one even interested in listening."
On Nov. 26, Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports reported that Kelly is taking steps through representatives to explore other potential coaching vacancies. Forde did note Kelly "has expressed no desire to leave the school."
Kelly reiterated that stance on Nov. 27, via Michael Bertsch, Notre Dame's director of football media relations:
Speaking after the Fighting Irish's 45-27 loss to Southern California on Nov. 26, per ESPN.com's Arash Markazi, Kelly said he expected to return in 2017:
Oh yeah, absolutely. There was some discussion as to why I'm coming back [to campus] early, and I don't believe I'm coming back early because I'm getting fired. [Notre Dame athletic director] Jack [Swarbrick] and I always meet at the end of the year, and I wanted to do some exit interviews with our players because I hadn't been able to do that.
Swarbrick Comments on Kelly's Future
Saturday, Dec. 3
"I certainly understand the engagement and the discussion of the program, but it's very much business as usual," Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said on his radio show (h/t Matt Fortuna of ESPN.com).
We have a whole series of things we do at the end of the year. We conduct exit interviews with every senior. We do some statistical analysis. Coach Kelly's meeting with every member of the team over a three-day period to talk to them. Obviously he meets with staff. Then him and I come together at the end of that process to sit down and talk about what we need to change, what's next, what the plans are for the upcoming year, so in that sense, it's been absolutely business as usual from our perspective.
Notre Dame Must Find Ways to Improve in 2017
As for what happened on the field this season, Kelly said after the loss to USC that "everything is on the table" with regard to possible changes for the coaching staff in 2017, per Markazi.
In November, the NCAA ruled Notre Dame had to vacate all of its wins from the 2012 and 2013 seasons due to academic misconduct involving a student trainer. The athletic department also received one year of probation.
Swarbrick told Fortuna in October that Kelly would "lead this team out of the tunnel opening day next year."
Kelly, who just finished his seventh season as head coach of the Fighting Irish, signed a six-year contract extension in January that runs through 2021. Including the vacated wins, he has compiled a 59-31 record with the program and garnered an appearance in the BCS National Championship Game in January 2013.