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Notre Dame has its man: Brian Kelly

He gets a five-year deal to take over the Irish, who fired Charlie Weis last week. Kelly won’t coach Cincinnati (12-0) in the Sugar Bowl.

December 11, 2009|Staff And Wire Reports
  • Coach Brian Kelly talks to quarterback Tony Pike during Cincinnati's game against Miami (Ohio) earlier this season.
Coach Brian Kelly talks to quarterback Tony Pike during Cincinnati's… (Al Behrman / Associated…)

Notre Dame has settled on Brian Kelly as the man who can restore its faded glory, just as he turned Cincinnati into a national title contender.

Just 10 days after Charlie Weis was fired, it's up to Kelly to revive the fortunes of a team that just completed the worst decade of football in the history of the storied program with a 70-52 record and three losing seasons.

Kelly received a five-year deal from Notre Dame and will be introduced as coach in South Bend, Ind., today. He declined to comment in Cincinnati, where he informed his players of the move after their football banquet Thursday night. He won't coach them in the Sugar Bowl.

"I am very pleased that a thorough and extensive search has led us to a new head coach in Brian Kelly, who I am confident will help us accomplish our goal of competing for national championships," Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick said in a statement.

The news didn't play well with Kelly's current team. Bearcats players were led into a meeting room, where Kelly told them he was leaving and thanked them for making his opportunity possible. One minute into the meeting, the door opened and receiver Mardy Gilyard walked out angry and alone, save his MVP trophy.

"He went for the money," Gilyard said. "I'm fairly disgusted with the situation, that they let it last this long."

Players weren't told of Kelly's decision until the banquet ended, nearly three hours after the news first broke. A few blinked back tears as they left.

"We already knew what he was going to say. We weren't giving him a round of applause or anything," tight end Ben Guidugli said. "It's like somebody turned their back on us. We brought this whole thing this far. We've come this far. To have someone walk out now is disappointing."

Offensive coordinator Jeff Quinn will coach the No. 4 Bearcats (12-0) in their first Sugar Bowl game against Florida. Quinn has been one of Kelly's assistants for 22 years, moving with him from Grand Valley State to Central Michigan and Cincinnati.

The 47-year-old Kelly was 34-6 in three seasons at Cincinnati, leading the Bearcats to consecutive Big East titles and two straight Bowl Championship Series bowl berths.

Forbath honored

UCLA's Kai Forbath was chosen the winner of the Lou Groza Award, given to the nation's top kicker.

Forbath, a junior, made 26 of 29 field goals this season. He has made 35 consecutive field goals from inside 50 yards.

"It would be great to come back next season and try to win it a second time in a row," Forbath said.

Whether that will be the case remains to be seen, as Forbath said he has filed papers to gauge where he might be taken in the NFL draft.

Forbath was named first-team All-American by the Walter Camp Foundation.

USC safety Taylor Mays also was selected to the first team, making him a three-time All-American.

UCLA defensive tackle Brian Price and safety Rahim Moore were chosen to the second team.

-- Chris Foster Hardware for McCoy, Suh

Texas quarterback Colt McCoy won the Walter Camp player of the year award for the second consecutive season. He joins Ohio State's Archie Griffin and USC's O.J. Simpson as repeat winners.

McCoy also won the Maxwell Award (best all-around player) and Davey O'Brien Award (best quarterback).

Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh won the Outland Trophy honoring the nation's best interior lineman and the Chuck Bednarik Award as the nation's best defensive player.

Stanford's Toby Gerhart earned the Doak Walker Award as the top running back and Tennessee's Eric Berry won the Jim Thorpe Award as the best defensive back.

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