Now, he can focus on playing politics with Heisman Trophy voters.
When asked Sunday afternoon about linebacker Manti Te'o's Heisman prospects, Kelly didn't equivocate.
"Well, I think he should win the Heisman Trophy, provided we continue to win," Kelly said.
Te'o, of course, has shrugged off the Heisman talk all season, saying it's an honor to be considered but that he's focused on team goals -- team goals that got a lot loftier this weekend, as the Irish are now one win over USC from the national championship game. So Kelly said he'll do the talking for his senior star.
"As it relates to Manti, he doesn't talk much about it," Kelly said. "He's not focused on those things, he's focused on the things that we all know that are important to him, and that is his team and how we play on Saturday. I'll push for him. I think he should win the Heisman. But he's not really focused on that."
Te'o had better get used to these kinds of discussions, though. Notre Dame's website now opens with a page devoted to Te'o's award-worthiness. He's being touted for the Heisman, the Maxwell Award, the Bendarik Award, the Nagurski Trophy, the Lombardi Award, the Butkus Award, the Lott Trophy and the Senior CLASS Award.
Kelly said he hasn't talked with Te'o specifically about the Heisman, but that Te'o can expect a busy December, and not just because the Irish will be preparing for a possible title game.
"The only thing we talked about is that he's going to be with me after the USC game quite a bit, because we've got a lot of banquets and awards shows to be at," Kelly said. "So the only thing that I've talked to him about is that we have a hope that we'll be in New York together in a couple of weeks."