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Sources: Kelly to be new Irish coach


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Brian Kelly, who has coached Cincinnati's football team to a 12-0 record this season and a berth in the Sugar Bowl, will be the new football coach at Notre Dame, two sources have told ESPN's Chris Mortensen.

Neither Notre Dame nor Cincinnati has confirmed that Kelly has accepted an offer to coach the Fighting Irish, and Kelly could not be reached for comment, but the sources tell Mortensen that Kelly is Notre Dame's choice to replace the fired Charlie Weis.

Cincinnati is holding its football banquet later tonight, and in a change of plans Thursday afternoon, barred the media from the event. One source told Mortensen that Kelly will announce at the banquet that he has taken the Notre Dame job. Earlier this week, Kelly had contact with representative of Notre Dame about its opening.

Neither source could confirm whether Kelly would coach Cincinnati (No. 3 BCS, No. 4 AP) against fifth-ranked Florida in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day.

The Chicago Tribune reported this week that Kelly would not coach the Bearcats in the Sugar Bowl if hired by Notre Dame, and that associate head coach/defensive backs coach Kerry Coombs would be his likely replacement.

Last week Kelly and Notre Dame officials had an informational meeting, which was facilitated by Parker Executive Search, the Atlanta firm that Notre Dame used to gauge potential candidates' interest, according to the Tribune's Web site.

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Reactions from the banquet

After the banquet, Kelly and athletic director Mike Thomas led the players into a different ballroom and closed the doors. About a minute later, Gilyard walked out with an unhappy expression on his face.

"I heard everything I needed to know: 'I accepted the Notre Dame job,"' Gilyard said. "He went for the money. I'm fairly disgusted with the situation, that they let it last this long."

Gilyard said in an interview before the banquet that he was upset Kelly had accepted the Notre Dame job after telling him and other players before their last game that he was staying.

"I don't like it," said Gilyard, the Big East's top receiver and kick returner. "I feel there was a little lying in the thing. I feel like he'd known this the whole time. Everybody knows Notre Dame's got the money. I kind of had a gut feeling he was going to stay just because he told me he was going to be here."

Quarterback Tony Pike said Kelly told them last week, before their title-clinching win over Pittsburgh, that he was happy in Cincinnati.

"The Tuesday when we were practicing for Pittsburgh, he said he loves it here and he loves this team and loves coaching here and his family loves it here," Pike said.

"Just blindsided by the fact that it's a business," Gilyard said. "People lose sight of that. At the end of the day, NCAA football is a business. People have got to make business decisions."

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