It seems as if Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly has emerged as one of the leading candidates to fill the Eagles head coaching vacancy.
According to several reports, Kelly, who first met with the Eagles on Tuesday night, is meeting again with the Eagles at some point this weekend. ESPN reported that Kelly will be in New Haven, Conn., this weekend to attend an event.
The Eagles arent commenting on any interactions with college coaches. The search committee of owner Jeffrey Lurie, president Don Smolenski and general manager Howie Roseman had already met with Penn State coach Bill OBrien and Oregon coach Chip Kelly -- each of which opted to return to their schools -- before meeting with Kelly, who is the only known candidate to have a second interview.
Kelly has even started soliciting advice from NFL circles about the jump from college to the professional ranks, a source told the Chicago Tribune.
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The trio is slated to meet tonight with Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, according to a source (see story). Bradley is believed to be the top choice of the Eagles, who also plan to interview Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians in the coming days.
Kelly, 51, first spoke to the Eagles one day after his Irish played in its first national championship game since 1988, an embarrassing 42-14 defeat to Alabama in the BCS title game. After the game, Kelly called coaching Notre Dame his dream job and said leaving the school was not an option.
A report from Sports Illustrated said that Kelly, who is 28-11 in his three seasons at Notre Dame, would likely receive a raise and contract extension from the school but neither has yet to materialize.
Kelly has 22 years of coaching experience but has never coached above the college ranks. He spent 13 years at Grand Valley State, where he went 118-35-2 with no losing seasons, and three years at Central Michigan (19-16 record) before moving onto Cincinnati (34-6) and then Notre Dame.
Kelly has had just one losing season, a 4-7 year in his first season at Central Michigan, in 2004. The Eagles have not had a head coach with no NFL experience either coaching or as a player since Bert Bell in 1936.
Before setting out on his search to replace Andy Reid, who was fired after 14 seasons on Dec. 31, Lurie said his list of candidates was very defined and later discussed the advances made by college coaches in their ability to be successful in the NFL.
Ive thought a little bit about it. Its interesting, Lurie said. I think right now the NFL tends to borrow more from college than the other way around. But I think its more about leadership. Some of these coaches in college are outstanding leaders and they just go from a younger roster in college to a slightly older roster.
Still, the average age is 26, 27, 25 in the NFL. Theyre dealing with 19- and 20-year-olds. Its not that big of a difference. There is no question Im not the only that thinks college coaches are well-trained and have experienced tremendous pressure and can handle it and are smart.
On the other hand, thats not to diminish that most of the successful coaches come from the coordinator ranks and are NFL coaches as well. Again, as I said in there, no stone unturned. Weve got our target list. And its from all sides.
E-mail Geoff Mosher at firstname.lastname@example.org