The Notre Dame coach, who interviewed with the NFL's Eagles during the off-season, signed a five-year contract extension with the school last Saturday
DAN PATRICK:Could you have won that game against Alabama last season?
BRIAN KELLY: I think the circumstances needed to be a little bit different. If we had a playoff format, maybe [playing Bama] the week after the USC game, that would have been a better situation for us. But look, could have, would have, should have. Alabama won the game.
DP:Who will you miss more from last year's team, quarterback Everett Golson or linebacker Manti Te'o?
BK: I always lean toward leadership. Manti Te'o is one of the best leaders and best teammates I've ever coached. You don't replace that kind of player.
DP:When will Golson be able to reenroll at Notre Dame after being suspended for academic misconduct?
BK: Not until January.
DP:What do you want to see from him before he returns?
BK: We want our kids to take responsibility for what they've done. He made a mistake, and he's paying the consequences. The next thing for me is, Do you want to be part of Notre Dame and what it stands for? He wants to be part of that.
DP:What are Golson's plans as far as football goes?
BK: He's working out in Chicago. He's going to go to California and spend some time with prominent quarterback coach George Whitfield. He'll be back here in January. We're going to welcome him back because he's taken responsibility for his actions. He'll be a better student and player because of it.
DP:How close were you to taking the Eagles job?
BK: I don't know that I was even going to be offered the Eagles job. I was interested in learning more about the NFL—we're going to continue to win here, and I'm sure there are going to be more opportunities. It offered me the opportunity to learn more about the NFL game so I could confirm in my mind I wanted to be a college coach.
DP:If you didn't get a shot at the NFL, would you feel that you missed something?
BK: If I get a chance to end my career at Notre Dame, I won't feel like I missed anything.
DP:Someone wrote that you have a 13-game job interview for the NFL this season.
BK: [Laughs.] I think I'll get a lot of that. It comes with the territory of being a winning coach.
DP:What comes first—Notre Dame joins a conference or an eight-team playoff?
BK: Eight-team playoff, easily.
DP:We have four now, but it will be eight soon?
BK: I don't have any first-hand information. But if you're asking my opinion, eight is right around the corner.
I asked Peyton Manning how he'd like the season to end if he's not going to win the Super Bowl. "The easy thing is to finish 8--8 and win the last game," Manning said. "You're high-fiving, great game, great win. You don't have as much of a sting.... But I'd rather have my guts ripped out [in the playoffs]."... Former U.S. soccer coach Bob Bradley is trying to lead Egypt's national team to the World Cup. He said he feels safe, but the social unrest in that country does affect his job: "I've learned what tear gas smells like. I haven't been right in the midst of it, but there are times that you get a whiff of it in the air."... I asked Seahawks QB Russell Wilson why some analysts say defensive coordinators will adjust to his game this year. "[They're] probably [talking about] the read-option," Wilson told me. "We don't really run it that much. We just hand it to Marshawn Lynch and make it look like we are."
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (PATRICK)
BOB ROSATO/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (KELLY)
ROBERT BECK/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (MANNING)
AMR ABDALLAH DALSH/REUTERS (BRADLEY)
ROBERT BECK/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (WILSON)