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- Sean O'Shea / Notre Dame checks out Iowa Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz; Kelly still favorite / Click here
- Sean O'Shea / Kelly is STILL going to be next Notre Dame football coach / Click here
- Earlier column / Sean O'Shea / Brian Kelly must replace Charlie Weis / Click here
Brian Kelly will be the next head football coach at the University of Notre Dame, informed sources tell IrishCentral.
The source, who is a well-informed person of influence at Notre Dame, says the Cincinnati coach is the preferred choice for the job, and that he is expected to eventually sign a deal.
Kelly is expected to see out the season with his Bowl Championship Series-bound team, and then report for duty at South Bend.
Kelly, a Massachusetts native and proud Irish American, is an obvious choice to take over from the outbound Charlie Weis, given his background and outstanding success with the Cincinnati program.
His name first surfaced at Notre Dame when the Fighting Irish lost to USC in a last-second cliffhanger. From that moment on, Weis' job was under scrutiny, says the source.
Kelly has led Cincinnati to an unbeaten season this year, and will face off with Pittsburgh on Saturday. He has done it despite losing his first-string quarterback and many key players from last year.
Kelly has refused to comment on the Notre Dame position, but once Florida coach Urban Meyer ruled himself out, Kelly became the major focus of the Notre Dame talent search.
Kelly is known as an offensive genius like Weis, but unlike him, he also has extensive defensive experience.
The 48-year-old grew up in Chelsea, Massachusetts, and attended Assumption College, where he spent four years playing as a linebacker.
Upon graduating with a degree in political science, Kelly worked as a linebackers coach, defensive coordinator, and softball coach at Assumption College for three years.
In 1987 he became defensive backs coach at Grand Valley State University under Coach Tom Beck, and two years later became defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator.
In 1991 he became head coach at Grand Valley State and over 13 seasons would amass a record of 118-35-2, during which he won two NCAA Division II national titles with the Lakers in 2002 and 2003.
In 2004 he took over as head coach at Central Michigan and in three seasons went 19-16, helping the team win the Motor City Bowl in his last year (Kelly moved to Cincinnati on December 3, 2006, before Central Michigan won the Bowl game).
In just over three seasons, Kelly has transformed the fortunes of Cincinnati. In his first year, they has their first 10-win season and the following year won the Big East outright.
This year, Kelly’s team is 11-0 and lie currently in the fifth spot in the BCS rankings.