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Kelly stays on offensive in CFB Playoff debate

Brian Kelly

FILE - In this Jan. 1, 2016, file photo, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly makes a call during the first half of the Fiesta Bowl NCAA College football game against Ohio State in Glendale, Ariz. Kelly has agreed to a six-year contract to stay on as coach at Notre Dame through 2021, the school announced Friday, Jan. 29,2 016. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)


There is no offseason in college football. Especially when it comes to the politicking that comes with the College Football Playoff.

As the Big 12 approves a conference championship game to try its best to level the playing field, Notre Dame remains the lone viable CFB Playoff contender without the ability to play a thirteenth game.

And speaking with ESPN’s Heather Dinich, Brian Kelly sounded like a coach who was more than okay with that.

Kelly took a proactive stance when he talked about where the Irish were positioned, taking dead aim at the FCS games that other major conferences are playing, specifically the SEC with its late-season set-up.

Here’s Kelly’s quote:

“I think my 12 stand up against another team’s 11 at any time, and I’m saying 11 because one of those games is really an effective bye week because it’s an [FCS] team,” said Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly. “Then if they play a championship game, it’s my 12 against their 12, and then that’s where the committee will have to make a decision -- my 12 against their 12.

“There are SEC schools that are effectively playing bye games in Week 11,” he said. “If there are any complaints I have with the committee, I don’t know how you reward anybody and keep them out there in the rankings when they effectively take a week off by playing a [FCS] opponent.”

Kelly’s pointing to a late-November weekend that saw No. 2 Alabama play Charleston Southern and No. 8 Florida take on Florida Atlantic, just two of the cupcakes that found their way into the late-season schedules of playoff contenders. (Yes, the Gators needed OT to win, but the point remains.) A late-season game where you can rest the majority of your starters should hurt your case just as much as a conference championship game can help.

This isn’t a new concern for Notre Dame. Athletic director Jack Swarbrick has spoken about the challenges of being independent. He’s also mentioned multiple times that a 13th game isn’t a viable option for the Irish. So that means scheduling aggressively and making sure that the selection committee sees Notre Dame against multiple conferences, something Kelly talked about.

“We want markers against every single conference, and we’ll continue to do that in scheduling,” Kelly told ESPN. “As long as we have markers against each conference across the board -- and I mean the top schools across the board -- I think that’s the most important thing for a college that’s independent like us.”