*Notre Dame’s success has some in the NFL wondering if Brian Kelly could follow the paths of Pete Carroll, Jim Harbaugh and Greg Schiano from college to the pros. But the word we’re hearing out of South Bend is Kelly’s only ambition is to coach the Fighting Irish, and that he would not be swayed by an NFL opportunity. Caveat: sometimes coaches change their minds when those opportunities become reality.
*The buzz in coaching circles says the Cowboys could keep much of their coaching staff in place even if Jason Garrett is let go. Jerry Jones had a hand in hiring many of the assistants, including Bill Callahan, who is one of his favorites. Whoever takes the job might have to be willing to work with the assistants Jones wants to keep. Someone with ties to Callahan who could fit in? Jon Gruden, who worked with him in Oakland.
*If Dean Spanos does make a move in San Diego, don’t be surprised if general manager A.J. Smith is spared. Some believe he will be allowed to stick around for two more years when his contract is scheduled to expire. It is no secret that Dean’s son John Spanos is being groomed for the general manager’s job. John is paying his dues by working up the scouting chain, and A.J. has been a good mentor. If Dean feels John isn’t yet ready to take over, he may grant Smith a stay of execution.
*The No. 1 name on almost everyone’s list for a general manager position will be Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta. But the wooing of DeCosta has become an annual event. If he leaves Baltimore, where he is comfortable working with Ozzie Newsome and perceived to be his eventual successor, it will be an upset.
*After the performance of Colin Kaepernick Monday night, Greg Roman might be a hotter head coaching candidate than ever. Of course Kaepernick’ success mostly is a reflection of Jim Harbaugh, but other teams are becoming increasingly interested in seeing if the Harbaugh magic can be tapped into.
*There likely is no head coaching future beyond this year for Bruce Arians in Indianapolis or for Joe Vitt in New Orleans. But people on other teams have taken notice of how the interim head coaches have provided spark, leadership and efficiency to their clubs in the absences of Chuck Pagano and Sean Payton. Arians in particular could be a popular head coaching candidate because of his ability to handle the offensive side of the ball and his success with Andrew Luck.