Brian Kelly said earlier in the fall he aimed to stay out of BCS politics. But as Notre Dame's path to the BCS Championship became clear in requiring two teams ahead of them to lose, it became difficult for Kelly to steer clear of politicking for his team.
After Notre Dame beat Boston College to improve to 10-0, Kelly voted his team No. 1 in the coaches poll, which is a component of the BCS. No other coach did. While Kelly said he told his team he believed they were No. 1, on some level, Kelly was doing his part to improve Notre Dame's standing in the BCS.
That was one thing Kelly could control -- his vote in the coaches poll. He had Notre Dame No. 2 before Alabama lost, and then moved them to No. 1. Nobody's questioning his No. 1 vote for Notre Dame this week, though.
"Oh, absolutely, but I understand it, too," Kelly said, relieved to not have to answer questions about politicking. "It comes with the territory, you're going to have those questions posed to you, and the best thing that I can do is keep our football team focused on the next game, and that's what we tried to do."
No matter how well Notre Dame played, and no matter what Kelly did, the Irish needed some combination of Alabama, Kansas State and Oregon to lose to have a chance to reach the national title. All three lost in successive weekends, and as long as Notre Dame beats USC, there won't be any BCS controversy in 2012.
"It's like being selected for the playoffs," Kelly said. "Now you know you're in if you take care of business, and you've got to win each week. I think it's more about just the feeling that you're included now in the race for a championship."