Brian Kelly staying at Notre Dame

Brian Kelly, who led his third Irish team to the Bowl Championship Series title game on Monday, will remain as the head football coach at the University of Notre Dame.

"My heart is at Notre Dame," Kelly said Saturday night at the Walter Camp Dinner where he was named the Coach of the Year.

"My heart is always what has driven me," Kelly continued. "So, no, I'm not turning pro."

His appearance came just a few hours after Notre Dame announced he was returning for his 4th season as the Irish head coach and no longer pursuing opportunities in the NFL with the Eagles. After losing to Alabama in the national title game on Monday, Kelly interviewed with the Eagles on Tuesday. Irish Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick said the Eagles asked permission to interview Kelly back in December and that all sides agree for the conversation to take place after the national title game.

I'm told the Eagles were looking to interview Kelly again in the next few days and make a big pitch to him, but he decided to return to Notre Dame instead.

“Like every kid who has ever put on a pair of football cleats, I have had thoughts about being a part of the NFL. However, after much reflection and conversation with those closest to me, I have decided to remain at Notre Dame," Kelly said in a statement. "This decision was motivated purely by my love for Notre Dame and the entire Fighting Irish community, the young men I have the great fortune to coach, and my desire to continue to build the best football program in the country."

“We still have a lot of work to do and my staff and I are excited about the challenges ahead.”

Kelly led the Irish to a 12-1 record in 2012 in his third season as Irish head coach. Notre Dame finished the regular season ranked number one in the BCS standings, with the top-rated scoring defense in the country. Kelly became only the second Irish coach to win 12 games in a season (Lou Holtz also did it in 1988) and now stands 28-11 in his three seasons in South Bend. No Notre Dame coach has ever won more than 28 games in his first three years as Notre Dame head coach (Dan Devine also won 28 in 1975-77).

The Notre Dame football program also ranked number one among all Football Bowl Subdivision programs in the most recent NCAA Graduation Success Rate figures released in October—as the Irish became the first team to be ranked number one in the football polls and also first in graduation rates and play for the BCS title.

“I was always confident that Brian would continue to lead our football program, I am very happy to have that confirmed and share Brian's excitement about what lies ahead for our program,” said Notre Dame vice president and athletics director Jack Swarbrick. “

“I appreciate the Eagles reaching out to request permission to speak with Brian, and I also appreciate Brian keeping me fully informed throughout this process. We all look forward to what’s ahead for Notre Dame football.”

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