Notre Dame has settled on Brian Kelly as the man who can restore its faded glory, just as he turned Cincinnati into a national title contender.
Just 10 days after Charlie Weis was fired, it's up to Kelly to revive the fortunes of a team that just completed the worst decade of football in the history of the storied program with a 70-52 record and three losing seasons.
Kelly got a 5-year deal from Notre Dame and will be introduced as coach this afternoon in South Bend, Ind. Irish athletic director Jack Swarbrick confirmed the hiring in a statement.
Kelly declined to comment in Cincinnati, where he informed his players after their annual banquet last night. He won't coach them in the Sugar Bowl.
The news didn't play well with Kelly's current team. Bearcat players were led into a meeting room, where Kelly told them he was leaving and thanked them for making his opportunity possible. One minute into the meeting, the door opened and receiver Mardy Gilyard walked out angry and alone, save his MVP trophy.
"He went for the money," Gilyard said. "I'm fairly disgusted with the situation, that they let it last this long."
Players weren't told of Kelly's decision until the banquet ended, 3 hours after the news broke.
"We already knew what he was going to say. We weren't giving him a round of applause or anything," tight end Ben Guidugli said. "It's like somebody turned their back on us."
Offensive coordinator Jeff Quinn will coach the No. 4 Bearcats in the Sugar Bowl against Florida.
Kelly, 47, was 34-6 in three seasons at Cincinnati, leading the Bearcats to back-to-back Big East titles and two straight Bowl Championship Series berths.
* Texas quarterback Colt McCoy won the Maxwell Award honoring the nation's best all-around player and also won the Davey O'Brien Award as the best quarterback at the annual college football awards at Disney World. Other winners: Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh (Chuck Bednarik Award, best defensive player, and Outland Trophy, best interior lineman); Tennessee's Eric Berry (Jim Thorpe Award, best defensive back); UCLA's Kai Forbath (Lou Groza Award, best kicker); Stanford's Toby Gerhart (Doak Walker Award, best running back); Notre Dame's Golden Tate (Biletnikoff Award, best receiver); Georgia's Drew Butler (Ray Guy Award, best punter); Cincinnati's Brian Kelly (Coach of the Year); and Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich (Disney Spirit Award, most inspirational figure). Herzlich, from Conestoga High, overcame a rare form of bone cancer and is expected to return next season.