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Swarbrick eager to keep Kelly at Notre Dame

Published: Monday, Jan. 7, 2013 9:29 a.m. CDT

(Continued from Page 1)

(MCT) — FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — If the NFL does get in Brian Kelly’s ear after the BCS championship game, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick expects to be in the other one, offering what it takes to keep his football coach where he is.

Swarbrick said he’d be willing to discuss more money and more security for the coach who led the Irish to a 12-0 campaign once the pair have their usual postseason debriefing.

“I’m really confident that Brian enjoys his experience at Notre Dame and when we’re past (Monday), we’ll sit down and talk about securing that future,” Swarbrick said Sunday. “We love having him, and he loves being at Notre Dame.”

Asked if that means a raise from Kelly’s $3 million salary range and/or an extension, Swarbrick replied: “Everything that goes into the program is on the table when we have those discussions.”

That also means a “laundry list” of items, as Swarbrick put it, which annually could include staff considerations or equipment needs or other items. Most critically, Swarbrick believes the fundamental needs for a consistently elite program already are in place.

“It feels great to have a great coach,” Swarbrick said. “What I feel best about is, the foundation is built. There will be great years, and there will be not-so-great years. That’s the nature of athletics. But I feel the foundation is in place to give ourselves an opportunity every year, and that’s great.”

Bar set: Based on his experiences at Grand Valley State after a championship, Kelly knows what is coming after Monday night, win or lose. He and his players will have a title-game-or-bust mentality for 2013 and the future.

“Playing in this game is an incredible springboard into the next season, because you set a goal, you set a bar,” Kelly said Sunday. “They’ve already been here. You come back the next year, it’s unacceptable for a standard to be any less than being back here again.”

Heart matters: The mystery surrounding backup offensive lineman Matt Hegarty was cleared up Sunday in multiple reports. The 6-foot-5, 296-pound sophomore suffered a “mini-stroke” Nov. 8 and had Dec. 14 surgery to repair two holes in his heart.

Hegarty, who was expected to compete for the starting center gig in 2013 before the health scare, told the Farmington (N.M.) Daily Times he hoped to play again.

“It would be sweet to play in this national championship, but next year the opportunity will be there,” Hegarty said. “It will be that much sweeter if I can come back and play.”

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