By RALPH D. RUSSO
MIAMI — Brian Kelly says leaving Notre Dame “isn’t an option.” Alabama’s Nick Saban says he has no “unfinished business” in the NFL.
While Oregon coach Chip Kelly ponders which NFL job — if any — he wants, the coaches getting ready to meet in the BCS championship said during media day at Sun Life Stadium that they have no interest in jumping to the pros.
Brian Kelly is in his third season with the top-ranked Fighting Irish and has led them to an undefeated season. Notre Dame will try to win its first national championship since 1988 by beating No. 2 Alabama on Monday night.
The 51-year-old Kelly has steadily climbed the coaching ladder, from Grand Valley State to Central Michigan to Cincinnati to Notre Dame, winning big at every stop along the way.
The next logical step would be the NFL, but for now, he said he has no desire to give it a try.
“Leaving is not an option. I don’t even think about it,” he said Saturday.
Chip Kelly is being courted by the Cleveland Browns, Philadelphia Eagles and Buffalo Bills. There haven’t been the same type of rumors and speculation about Brian Kelly.
He said even if an NFL team was interested in talking to him about a job vacancy, he wouldn’t know.
He said there is a strict protocol in place and any NFL team would have to speak with his agent first, and that information wouldn’t be passed along to him until after the BCS championship game.
“I think from my perspective I’ve got the best job in the country, NFL, college, high school, whatever,” Kelly said. “I just look at the place that I’m at and thankful for the opportunity that I have.”
Saban, who did a two-year stint with the Miami Dolphins before taking the Alabama job in 2007, doesn’t seem to have any interest in going back. But the rumors about NFL teams being interested in the Crimson Tide coach come up just about every year.
“I don’t have any unfinished business in the NFL,” Saban said. “It’s not something I’m concerned about. It’s not even anything I want to do.”
It’s getting easier to believe the 61-year old Saban with every passing year, but the way he left the Dolphins will always leave some doubting what he says.
“I guess I have to say it. I’m not going to be the Alabama coach,” Saban said on Dec. 21, 2006, two weeks before he became Alabama coach.
Saban has a chance to win his third national title in the last four seasons with the Crimson Tide, and fourth championship overall. He also won one in 2003 with the LSU. He left the Tigers for the Dolphins after the 2004 season and went 15-17 in two seasons with Miami.
“I’m not looking for new challenges,” he said. “I’m just trying to take advantage of helping the challenging situation that we have and continue to be successful.”