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Irish introduce Kelly as coach

Photo by Scott Chancey

Photo by Scott Chancey

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Brian Kelly was introduced as the new coach at Notre Dame on Friday and said his dream job includes challenges that must be addressed to bring national championships back to the Fighting Irish.

Kelly, a former Cincinnati coach who signed a five-year deal, said he was eager to take on the restoration of the Fighting Irish program -- and that means national titles.

"When I refer to the challenge, it's strictly getting to that high bar that's been set at Notre Dame," he said. "We've got challenges, but we'll go to work on those right away."

Athletic director Jack Swarbrick said Kelly was the first candidate he spoke to and the only one he offered the job to. Kelly wisecracked that he didn't "doodle the ND diagram" at his other jobs, but hoped he could one day run the Irish and called the job the "culmination" of 19 years of coaching.

Kelly met with his players for 25 minutes Friday. Afterward, linebacker Brian Smith wrote on his Twitter account: "good guy. i wanna play now."

The 47-year-oldKelly officially takes over Monday, starting the job he has always wanted. As a sign of his eagerness, his Twitter page got a complete makeover after the announcement. The background featured Notre Dame's stadium, and the biography listed South Bend as his location along with a brief statement.

"Thrilled to be the coach of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish," the bio said. "Committed to stirring People with PASSION and PURPOSE."

He won't have a difficult time stirring the Irish faithful. The question is whether he can succeed where his predecessors failed, returning Notre Dame to BCS prominence and keeping those fans on his side.

He headed to South Bend with slightly less job security than previous coaches. The last three Notre Dame coaches started with six-year deals -- Weis, Tyrone Willingham and George O'Leary, who resigned five days after his hiring. The last coach to get a five-year deal was Bob Davie, who took the job after the 1996 season.

Notre Dame has gone 16-21 over the past three seasons and is losing two of its best offensive players. Quarterback Jimmy Clausen and his favorite receiver, Golden Tate, announced Monday they will enter the NFL draft.