MIAMI — With his Notre Dame team preparing to play Alabama in the BCS national title game on Monday night, and several NFL head coaching positions open, it was inevitable that Brian Kelly's name would surface as a potential candidate for NFL jobs.
But the Fighting Irish coach said he hasn't given any thought to leaving.
"I think when I took the job at Notre Dame, I think I said it was a dream job," Kelly said Saturday. "But I never went around day to day saying anything about being the Notre Dame head coach, because the job that I had in hand was what I was thinking about. And I think that's the same thing with the NFL. I think from my perspective I've got the best job in the country — NFL, college, high school, whatever. I just look at the place that I'm at and thankful for the opportunity that I have."
Kelly, 51, did not directly confirm or deny whether he has been contacted by any NFL teams.
"They have to contact my representation and then they've got to follow through that," he said. "If that did occur, then all that stuff is secondary to this football game. This is the biggest game that I've ever been involved in, so my focus is 100 percent on this … game."
A WORTHWHILE LOSS: It didn't feel like it at the time, but Alabama's loss to Texas A&M on Nov. 10 turned out to be a blessing in disguise, the Crimson Tide players said. "From Day 1 our goal was to come to the national championship," Alabama RB Eddie Lacy said. "We would like to not have lost any games, but sometimes losing brings back what you set in Day 1 and it resets your mind frame. Unfortunately we had to go through that, but it made us lock on what we actually wanted."
SABAN'S RETURN: Alabama's Nick Saban returned to Sun Life Stadium on Saturday, where he spent 2005-06 as coach of the NFL's Dolphins.
He didn't leave Miami on the best of terms but said it was special to return — but not because of his previous stint.
"I'm kind of excited about the opportunity that our team has," he said. "It's really about our team and this game. We're always happy to come back to South Florida. We have some great relationships here and some very fond memories of being here. But you know we recruited and worked to develop this team for a long, long time, and it's really a lot more about them being here and having the opportunity and trying to get them prepared to take advantage of that opportunity than it is anything that's happened in my past."
Saban insisted for weeks late in 2006 that he would not leave the Dolphins for the Crimson Tide, famously saying at one point: "I guess I have to say it. I'm not going to be the Alabama coach."
Less than two weeks after uttering that phrase, he was the Alabama coach. "I don't have any unfinished business in the NFL," Saban, 61, said Saturday. "It's not something I'm thinking about; it's not even something that I want to do. I want to be a college coach."
Information from Times wires was used in this report.