MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Alabama coach Nick Saban has had to deal with speculation on whether he would jump back to the NFL if offered a job.
He’s not the only one who has been answering questions about the NFL. Early at Saturday’s media session with Notre Dame at Sun Life Stadium, head coach Brian Kelly also was hit with questions about his future with the Irish.
He never completely denied NFL teams have been in contact with his representatives, nor did he confirm contact either. Kelly did say he is completely focused on Monday night’s championship game with Alabama.
“Any of those things that occur relative to contact, there’s a strict protocol for that,” he said. They have to contact my representation and then they’ve got to follow through that. If that did occur, then all that stuff is secondary to this football game. My focus — this is the biggest game that I’ve ever been involved in, so my focus is 100 percent on this football game.”
Kelly said speculation always occurs when a coach is having success.
“That happens when you’re winning football games,” he said. “I’ve been through this a lot in my career. It’s flattering if there is interest, which I don’t know that there is, but again, that is such a secondary topic for me right now, it’s all about this game.”
Kelly said he considers Notre Dame to be his dream job.
“I think from my perspective I’ve got the best job in the country, NFL, college, high school,” he said.
Notre Dame’s roster has at least four names that should be familiar to even Alabama fans. There are two Golics, one Collinsworth and one Hanratty on the roster.
Jake Golic is a senior tight end who played in two games this season, while Mike Golic Jr. is a senior starter on the offensive line. They are the sons of former Irish and NFL player Mike Golic, who now is better known for his work on ESPN Radio as part of the “Mike and Mike in the Morning”, a sports talk radio show.
Austin Collinsworth is the son of former Florida and Cincinnati Bengals receiver Cris Collinsworth, who is now considered the top NFL television analyst. Austin Collinsworth is a junior safety but missed the season after sustaining a shoulder injury in spring practice.
Conor Hanratty, a sophomore offensive lineman, is the son of former Notre Dame quarterback Terry Hanratty, who finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1968 and had an eight-year NFL career. Conor Hanratty played in five games this season as a backup guard.
Restoring the tradition
Tyler Eifert is Notre Dame’s leading receiver with 44 catches this season. He said Saturday it would be an honor for this team to be remembered as the one that restored Notre Dame’s college football tradition.
“To be that team that kind of brings Notre Dame back, for all of our fans out there it would be awesome,” he said.
Offensive lineman Zack Martin said playing at a Notre Dame is special.
“At Notre Dame you play for something more than yourself,” he said. “You play for your guys in the locker room but you play for the tradition and the players before you, and they do a great job of keeping us connected to the alumni. It’s really something special. If you’re not a part of the Notre Dame family, you don’t really know unless you’re a part of it that it’s something special.”