Real silly season about to begin for Kelly

Cincinnati head coach Brian Kelly has brushed away rumors of his involvement in the Notre Dame job of late by calling this "the silly season."

Well, things are about to get awfully silly for Kelly this week.

Notre Dame's official firing of head coach Charlie Weis on Monday has set the speculation on his successor into a full-blown thunderstorm. And Kelly's name will remain near the top of every list until he shoots down interest, or the Irish hire someone else.

Of course, all this comes as Cincinnati prepares for what is the biggest regular-season game in school history. The No. 5 Bearcats can wrap up a 12-0 regular season, a second straight Big East title and a BCS bid this Saturday by winning at Pittsburgh.

Cincinnati players have had to deal with these kinds of distractions before, and Kelly says he is always honest and upfront with them about his job situation. He doesn't think it will be a problem this week for a team that's tuned out so many other things.

"It's kind of emblematic of our seniors," Kelly said Monday. "None of them were BCS recruits. None of them had national honors. A lot of them had to wait their turn to play. This is a group that had to wait for their chance, and they certainly don't want to blow it."

Kelly is also doing his best to limit the questions they'll be asked. He'll appear today at his weekly news conference, where he'll surely be asked about Notre Dame. Two players will come to that news conference to meet the media. And that will be the only availability of any Bearcats players or coaches all week, even with their biggest game of the season looming.

Don't be surprised to see Kelly get asked about Notre Dame at Saturday's game in Heinz Field; some writers may attend that game solely for that reason.

Kelly hasn't shot down the Notre Dame rumors, nor is he under any obligation to do so. It's no secret that he has interest, and he should consider the opportunity if it's offered, especially given the uncertain future of expansion possibilities for Cincinnati's Nippert Stadium. He is right to keep his options open.

Kelly told a radio station over the weekend that real estate agents in South Bend are already sending him business cards. Now that's silly. And it's about to get even sillier.