CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly has emerged as a coach of interest to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their search to replace Dirk Koetter, sources told 670 The Score's David Haugh.
The Buccaneers fired Koetter on Monday after he went 19-29 in three seasons, and enlisted the search firm Korn-Ferry to help identify the next coach, who also could be given control of the 53-man roster. In a statement released about the firing, Buccaneers owner/co-chairman Joel Glazer said the search will be conducted by general manager Jason Licht. The firm has experience assisting coaching searches with the Houston Texans, Atlanta Falcons, Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks and Jacksonville Jaguars.
Kelly’s name surfaced in the past 48 hours after the search firm became more involved in the process.
Kelly flirted with the Philadelphia Eagles after the 2012 season, interviewing with the team, and sources say he remains intrigued by the idea of coaching in the NFL. Notre Dame’s lopsided 30-3 loss to Clemson in the College Football Playoff national semifinal Saturday reignited the debate over how close the program is to its first national title since 1988.
Kelly’s level of interest remains unclear after he was made aware of the possibility the Bucs could pursue him, according to league sources. Contacted Wednesday morning about the situation, a Notre Dame spokesman has yet to respond.
The Glazers are known for aiming high for coaching candidates and are said to be considering paying their next coach as much as $10 million per season, a salary hard for Kelly to ignore. That compensation likely would reflect the Bucs’ interest in making Kelly the head of football operations, overseeing the entire organization and answering only to ownership, a source said. Kelly earns a salary of $2.1 million, according to USA Today’s annual coaching database, but makes considerably more through outside income sources. His deal with Notre Dame runs through 2021.
Reports last week stated the Bucs’ intention to bring back troubled quarterback Jameis Winston for 2019, when he's due $20 million. Kelly’s reputation for getting the most of his quarterbacks with tough love surely appeals to the Glazers – as well as his national stature and CEO-type approach to the job.
College football pushing its early signing date back to Dec. 19 this year changes the dynamic concerning Kelly’s candidacy and his availability to interview. Notre Dame signed 21 recruits last month in a class ranked 13th in the country, but many close to the program expect a dropoff in 2019. The Bucs job is one of eight head coaching openings in the NFL that might tempt the 57-year-old Kelly, who's 81-35 in nine seasons at Notre Dame.