From Comcast SportsNetSOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -- Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o didn't show any signs of being affected by the girlfriend hoax leading up to the BCS title game, but his play indicates it may have taken a toll, coach Brian Kelly said Tuesday."Hindsight is 20-20. I didn't think going into the game he was affected by it. But he didn't play his best. Alabama had something to do with that, clearly. But I really don't know," Kelly said."It's a lot to weigh on the shoulders of somebody. I think we can make the leap that maybe it did. But I think Manti would know for sure."Te'o said in an interview with ESPN after the news of the hoax broke that it did not affect his performance in the title game blowout.Kelly spoke to reporters Tuesday by conference call for the first time since the Irish were beaten 42-14 by Alabama in the BCS title game on Jan. 7. He said his interview the Philadelphia Eagles was mainly to get more information about coaching in the NFL, and his heart remains in college football. He's also working on a contract extension with Notre Dame.Kelly said so far everything that has come out about the girlfriend hoax matches up with what Te'o told him when he called him on Dec. 26. Kelly contacted athletic director Jack Swarbrick immediately after Te'o told him what happened."Obviously, we all heard the story. It just sounded so crazy that the first thing I wanted to make sure we did was get the right people on top of this immediately," he said. "That was my first thought, to find out What the heck is going on here.'"Te'o had described the girlfriend, who supposedly died of leukemia last fall, the love of his life. But Te'o got a call from the person posing as the girlfriend on Dec. 6, to say she hadn't died. He continued to talk about her when questioned at the Heisman Trophy ceremony on Dec. 8. He told Kelly about the situation 18 days later.Te'o told ESPN on Jan. 18 that Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, a 22-year-old acquaintance who lives in California, contacted him Jan. 16 and confessed to the prank.Kelly said he wasn't sure what to think initially. Despite all that's happened, Kelly said he will still remember Te'o as one of the best teammates and leaders he's been around in 22 years of coaching."He showed the way how to be a great teammate. His work ethic, his commitment, all of those things," he said. "He was special to coach and he did all the things that I think great players have to do on a day-to-day basis."Kelly described his interview with Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie was more "intrigue than it was interest," saying the Eagles contacted Swarbrick within a day of Andy Reid being fired on Dec. 31."My head said: Let's be more informed as it relates to the NFL. But my heart is in college football and with Notre Dame," Kelly said.He said he wanted to learn about the day-to-day operation of NFL teams to see if it was something that might interest him."I wanted to answer those because we're going to win again next year and there's probably going to be teams interested in me coaching in the NFL and I want to be able to tell them definitively that I want to coach college," he said.Kelly, who agreed he wouldn't talk to the Eagles until after the title game, said it wasn't a problem keeping the interview from being a distraction."Because I wasn't even certain I was going to interview," he said. "It really wasn't even on my radar."Kelly said he's been telling recruits that he was flattered by the attention from the NFL, but that he's committed to Notre Dame.Kelly also said he feels good about negotiations under way with Swarbrick about a contract extension, saying negotiations began on Dec. 6."We both want the same thing, the long-term consistency of the program," Kelly said.Kelly originally signed a five-year contract three years ago at a reported 2.5 million a year and was given a two-year extension a year ago.Kelly said despite losing by 28 to Alabama, he's still excited about the Notre Dame football program. He said Irish players understand how much more they need to improve."Our workouts now in the offseason will be focused on getting back to that game," he said. "As I told our team, we have some work to do. No question. But we know where we want to go."We know that we're capable of getting back to the national championship game, and we started that journey two weeks ago."
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MONTREAL -- The Boston Bruins weren’t about to dance on any Montreal Canadiens’ graves after it was over and done with, but they effectively closed the door on any flickering playoff hopes for the Habs this week. It all ended with Saturday night’s 4-1 win over the Canadiens at the Bell Centre that finished off the sweep of all three meetings between the two arch-rivals over an eight day span, and with the reeling Montreal a stunning 13 points out of a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division.
It was a close game nearly all the way through in Montreal until David Pastrnak and Riley Nash scored in the final few minutes of the third period, but the Bruins outscored the Habs by an 11-5 margin while clearly establishing they were the better team in all three contests. It all makes sense given the opposite directions that the two hockey clubs are headed at this point in the season, and because of that the Bruins were playing it pretty cool after burying the Habs.
“It was kind of a crazy week because we were playing them three times, so we obviously wanted to play good hockey,” said Tuukka Rask, who won all three games vs. the Habs while improving his lifetime record vs. the Habs to 10-15-3 in the process. “[We wanted to] get as many points as possible, and won all of those games along with the one on Long Island. So it was a great week for us.”
Certainly it seemed like there was more genuine emotion from the Bruins in Claude Julien’s return to Boston midweek, and perhaps a little more adrenaline in last weekend’s first game at the Bell Centre where rookies like Jake DeBrusk, Charlie McAvoy and Danton Heinen were dipping their toes into the storied rivalry for the first time.
But on this Saturday night it was more about a complete dismantling of the Bleu, Blanc and Rouge even as the Bruins initially fell down by a goal after a bad McAvoy turnover. Instead it was Boston’s Perfection Line that went to work with an efficient, dominant performance as David Pastrnak scored the game’s first goal and insurance third goal in the third period. They also accounted for the game-winner when Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak hemmed Montreal’s fourth line in the defensive zone, and Torey Krug eventually stepped up and rifled one short side on Carey Price.
Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak combined for two goals, six assists and a plus-8 in the resounding victory over the Habs, and had a dominant 12 of Boston’s 31 shots on net when the final horn had sounded. They simply overwhelmed Montreal with their depth, the high end quality of their lineup and the fact that Boston was rested while the Habs had to play in Washington DC on Friday night in a three games in four days stretch.
All of that allowed the Bruins to drive the final nail into Montreal’s coffin when the game was over, and it furthermore allowed Boston to keep worrying about the teams they’re trying to catch (ahem . . . Tampa Bay Lightning) rather than Eastern Conference bottom-feeders like the Canadiens.
“We talked about doing the job against them and finding a ways to push teams down while gaining ground on the teams above us,” said Patrice Bergeron. “I thought it was a great effort again. We knew that they would be ready for us, but we also knew that they had played last night. So maybe if we had a good start we could jump on them. I thought we had a good game.”
Clearly there have been ebbs and flows to the Bruins/Habs rivalry over their long history together, and both Boston and Montreal have been in the catbird seat at different times even in the recent editions of their history. But right now Boston is beating the Canadiens badly at their own skill and speed game and dominating thing with pure hockey rather than bullying, and that’s got to sting for a Habs group that simply couldn’t compete with the Bruins in three different chances to do so this week.