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How Brian Kelly Proved Notre Dame’s Irrelevancy in the College Football World [OPINION]

Brian Kelly
Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Even though Brian Kelly did not leave the University of Notre Dame for the NFL and Philadelphia Eagles, he’s done more any anyone to prove that Notre Dame is indeed irrelevant in today’s college football landscape.

Notre Dame should be a destination university – the pinnacle of a coach’s career.  And when was the last time a coach left the school on their own accord?

Lou Holtz, as rumor holds, was pushed out so he wouldn’t get more career wins than Knute Rockne.  Bob Davie was 10 wins above .500 when he was let go.  Davie’s replacement, Ty Willingham, also had a winning record when he was shown the door after three seasons.

Charlie Weis, was a Notre Dame graduate – a returning son who got to grab college football’s golden ring.  But tradition held, and Weis became just another coach to be fired by the university despite a winning record.

Enter Brian Kelly, a native of Boston and Catholic.  He called Notre Dame a dream job when he was hired in 2009.  He took the job after coaching Cincinnati to prominence only to depart the Bearcats before a bowl game against Florida that could have cemented the mid-tier school’s successful run.

Kelly left Central Michigan in the same way.  He coached the Chippewas for three seasons.  In his final season, he took the moribund Chips to a win in the 2006 Mid-American Conference Championship game only to leave before the team’s bowl game.

And Kelly continues the trend in 2013.  Just hours after a humiliating loss to Alabama in the  BCS Championship game, rumors began to circulate that Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles are in talks about their head coaching vacancy.

Kelly appears to be using Notre Dame as nothing more than a stepping stone.  Are the Irish no more important than Cincinnati and CMU: just a way to leap to the next coaching tier?

And if Kelly leaves South Bend it will be just like his two previous jobs – with plenty of unfinished business.  Notre Dame came to the precipice of greatness after the 2012 season but couldn’t overcome the Crimson Tide.  Coach Kelly should want to finish the work he started at Notre Dame.

Win a National Championship as the Irish head coach, and you’ve got nothing more to prove: you’ve won after serving in college football’s biggest pressure cooker – go on to the NFL then.

Even if Kelly stays, what does this NFL flirtation say to current players, recruits and the Notre Dame community?  ND’s head coach is not wholeheartedly committed to the Irish.  This is no dream job; just a means to an end.  The grass must always be greener somewhere else.

Notre Dame might be nice to have on the resume, but, as Brian Kelly’s actions prove – it’s no longer the top of college football’s rock candy mountain.

UPDATE 5:40PM 1/12/13

South Bend based WSBT and WNDU TV both are reporting that Brian Kelly will return as Notre Dame’s head football coach.

Watch: The One Point Safety - College Football's Strangest Play

@EricMeier is a Michiana native who blogs at lite987.com and elsewhere for Townsquare Media of Utica.

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