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Chris Dufresne / On College Football

Nick Saban, Brian Kelly hint they are not heading to the NFL

The coaches speak at the Bowl Championship Series media day at Sun Life Stadium. Alabama's Saban says returning to the pros is not something he wants; Notre Dame's Kelly says the topic is secondary.

January 05, 2013|Chris Dufresne
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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Nick Saban and Brian Kelly dropped strong hints Saturday they would be coaching at Alabama and Notre Dame beyond Monday night's Bowl Championship Series title game.

It's understandable the men leading the top two college football teams into the sport's top game would be considered candidates for several NFL vacancies.

Saban, seeking his third national title in six years at Alabama, had the more adamant denial.

"I don't have any unfinished business in the NFL," Saban said at Saturday's media day at Sun Life Stadium. "It's not even something I want to do."

Saban went 15-17 in two mostly woeful seasons with the Miami Dolphins before taking the Alabama job in 2007 — one of the great career moves in coaching history.

Kelly, who has led the Irish to the title game in his third season at Notre Dame, tried to deflect the NFL rumors.

"It's flattering if there is interest, which I don't know that there is," he said. "But this is such a secondary topic for me right now."

He added, "I think from my perspective I've got the best job in the country, NFL, college, high school, whatever."

Of course, you never say never with these guys. In December 2006, Saban adamantly denied he was leaving the NFL for Tuscaloosa.

"I'm not going to be the Alabama coach," he said less than two weeks before becoming Alabama's coach.

This time, though, Saban might be true to his word. After his misadventures in the NFL, there seems no earthly good reason why he should return to the pros.

"I want to be a college coach," Saban said. "I'm not looking for new challenges."

And Nick

While Saban may seem uptight at times, he said he relaxes in the off-season by running a pickup basketball league. Saban, naturally, is the commissioner.

"I pick the teams, so I have the best players," he said. "I also pick the guys who guard me."

It should not come as a surprise to know Saban is also the director of officiating.

"Every now and then I call a foul on myself," he said.

Tweet count

Remember when a stadium scoreboard provided only the score and kept the game time with an hour-hand clock?

Times have changed. During Saturday's media day, the jumbo video board at Sun Life Stadium was keeping real-time count of the number of "tweets" the schools were receiving.

Souvenirs

Before taking a seat at his podium at media day, Notre Dame defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore snapped a picture of his name plate.

He wanted a keepsake to remind him of his team's incredible 12-0 journey.

"It's basically how far I've personally come," he said. "It's been a long season, now we're here. I just wanted to enjoy the moment and have fun with it."

Lewis-Moore's reaction when he walked into Sun Life Stadium: "Man, that's orange," he said.

History lesson

Alabama and Notre Dame, two of college football's greatest programs, are meeting for only the seventh time.

Isn't it terrific to be a part of something so historically significant?

"I don't know anything about this matchup," Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron said. "I was never an Alabama fan growing up, so I can't answer that. I couldn't tell you one bit."

Etc.

Monday's game between Notre Dame and Alabama is arguably the most anticipated game in BCS title history. Fans from both schools have overrun South Florida. The Miami Herald reported that Notre Dame boosters have arranged for about 85 buses to transport fans in from as far away as Boca Raton. StubHub.com, a top ticket reselling site, reports the average BCS ticket was going for $1,800 at midweek, up from $1,200 for the last two title games.

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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