Capitals

Kelly will return to Notre Dame next season

201301072122769434786-p2.jpeg

Kelly will return to Notre Dame next season

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly will be trying for his first BCS championship, instead of a Super Bowl title, next season.

The third-year Fighting Irish coach, who interviewed with the Philadelphia Eagles earlier in the week a day after the Irish were beaten 42-14 by Alabama in the BCS title game, says his interest with the NFL is over for now.

``Like every kid who has ever put on a pair of football cleats, I have had thoughts about being a part of the NFL. However, after much reflection and conversation with those closest to me, I have decided to remain at Notre Dame,'' Kelly said in a statement released by the university Saturday evening.

``This decision was motivated purely by my love for Notre Dame and the entire Fighting Irish community, the young men I have the great fortune to coach, and my desire to continue to build the best football program in the country,'' he said.

The remarks were the first comments by Kelly since news broke late Wednesday that he had interviewed with the Eagles.

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said in an interview with The Associated Press on Saturday night that he believes Kelly interviewing for an NFL job and deciding to stay in South Bend is a positive.

``I think what you get to say to young men is you're going to be coached by somebody who is recognized by the NFL as a really excellent NFL coach,'' Swarbrick said.

Swarbrick said he was confident all along that Kelly would be back, said he continued to negotiate a contract extension with Kelly's agent during the past week.

Swarbrick said those talks began in early December and were put on hold as the BCS game approached because Kelly wanted to be focused on the game.

Swarbrick said Kelly's talks with the Eagles didn't affect contract negotiations.

``There is nothing about either the dynamic or the substance which was changed by the past week,'' he said. ``Somewhere down the road we're both confident it will result in a revised agreement.''

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

Recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS College Sports said it was too early to tell whether Kelly's talk with the Eagles will hurt what was expected to be Kelly's best recruiting class at Notre Dame and possibly the No. 1 recruiting class in the country.

``The key thing now is to call all the top players and assure them he's never going to leave while he's there, even if you lie, you've got to say it, and convince them it was just a thing,'' Lemming said. ``If they believe it, they'll stay.''

Lemming said the Irish already lost one recruit, linebacker Alex Anzalone, who is expected to enroll at Florida.

Kelly led the Irish to a 12-1 record this past season and a No. 4 ranking, their best finish since they were No. 2 with an 11-1 record after the 1993 season, which is the last season the Irish won a major bowl game.

The Irish haven't won a national championship since 1988. He failed to join Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian, Dan Devine and Lou Holtz as Irish coaches who won national titles in their third seasons at the school.

``We still have a lot of work to do and my staff and I are excited about the challenges ahead,'' Kelly said.

The Eagles, who also interviewed Oregon coach Chip Kelly and Penn State's Bill O'Brien, said in a statement saying they spent a lot of time and effort looking at coaches they believed were the best collegiate candidates.

``We did so knowing that there was a remote chance that these coaches would leave their current posts. We understood that going into the process, but we wanted to leave no stone unturned while trying to find the best head coach for the Philadelphia Eagles,'' the statement said.

``We have no regrets about the effort we made in that direction and we will continue to proceed as planned in our search.''

Quick Links

3 reasons the Caps beat the Sabres

usatsi_10653861.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

3 reasons the Caps beat the Sabres

The Caps could not shake Buffalo for two periods, but a dominant finish on Saturday helped them pull away for a 5-1 win. Here's how they finally put away the Sabres.​

A quick start

Strong stars go a long way towards helping a team in the middle of a slump. It's a confidence boost for a team in desperate need of one and the Caps got that boost on Saturday from Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov used his wheels to zip in behind the defense and score just 50 seconds into the game. Washington led 1-0 at the end of the first, just the second time in 19 games they have held a lead after the first.

Andre Burakovsky snapping second period slump

It looked in the second period like the Caps were caught trying to protect the lead again, but Andre Burakovsky woke the team back up with his incredible highlight end-to-end goal. It really looked like Buffalo was going to tie the game at one, but instead, Burakovsky extended the lead to two. Going end to end the way he did shows a player who is starting to play with some confidence, something Burakovsky has lacked at points this season.

Ovechkin's two-goal third period

Buffalo just would not go away. Sam Reinhart got the Sabres on the board just 14 seconds into the third period and suddenly the Caps found themselves in a one-goal game again. But Ovechkin ended any hopes for the comeback as he struck in the top corner of the net on the power play form the office. He would later add a deflection goal late to extend the lead to 5-1, giving a scuffling Washington team the dominant win they so sorely needed.

Quick Links

3 stars of the game: Caps erupt in 3rd for dominant win over Sabres

usatsi_10652847.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

3 stars of the game: Caps erupt in 3rd for dominant win over Sabres

The Capitals needed a win in the worst way and they got one, dispatching the Buffalo Sabres in dominating fashion with a 5-1 win.

Washington was locked in a tight game leading 2-0 heading into the third period when Sam Reinhart scored just 14 seconds into the period. The Caps then slammed the door shut, scoring three unanswered goals to put away the Sabres.

Here are the three stars of the game.

1. Alex Ovechkin: This was career game No. 893 for Ovechkin, tying him for the franchise record for most games played with Calle Johansson. Ovechkin very fittingly celebrated the occasion with two goals. The first was a power play goal from the office. No need for a one-timer on this one, as the Sabres gave him all the time he needed to aim up the shot and wrist it into the top corner. He added a late 

2. Evgeny Kuznetsov: To say the Caps have struggled at the start of games would be an understatement. In the last 18 games, Washington has held the lead after the first period only once. Kuznetsov made sure this game started off on the right foot as he scored just 50 seconds into the game. He turned on the jets in the neutral zone to turn the edge on Jason Pominville then easily skated around a weak, ill-advised challenge from Robin Lehner before flinging the puck into the yawning net. It was the fastest goal to start a game by the Caps this season. It was just the start of what would be a four-point night for the Caps' center as he added three assists.

3. Andre Burakovsky: Burakovsky had the highlight of the game with his end-to-end goal in the second period to put Washington up 2-0. He looked like he was shot out of a cannon as he launched himself from the defensive zone, streaked down the center of the ice and in on net to slide the puck through the Lehner's five-hole. Look how Burakovsky was able to slice through the Sabres' defense. Buffalo had him surrounded, but could not slow him down at all.