His recent flirtation with the NFL puts him perilously close to the "do as I say, not as I do" cliff. In both message and method, Kelly's moment with the pros is lacking.
On one hand, he knew he was going to be hit with the NFL question early in his one-hour BCS National Championship Game media day grilling last Saturday. He was able to stay coy and ambiguous enough, until he said leaving Notre Dame "is not an option."
That answer came on what was probably the third wave of reporters who came past Kelly's perch, about 45 minutes into the session. He wasn't as definitive on earlier inquiries.
Of course, coaches are trained to think and act in the here and now. At that time, on stage in the heat and humidity of Sun Life Stadium, it likely wasn't an option. A few days later, even before the dents of the 'Bama cleat marks all over the Irish had gone away, it obviously became a consideration.
On the other hand, of all the self-righteous schlubs sardined around Kelly for that hour, who wouldn't listen to a lucrative, high-profile opportunity from a major media outlet? Rest assured, the media likes more money just like coaches do.
Hard to cast blame.
That won't stop Notre Dame fans from tossing stones, assailing his loyalty and questioning why the $2.5 million base salary isn't enough.
It won't stop rival coaches from whispering those doubts into the ears of recruits.
It's not like Kelly is the first college coach to be wined and dined by the NFL. Heck, Oregon's Chip Kelly has danced that dance each of the last two postseasons.
"The fans have been all over the map," said Aaron Fentress, Oregon football beat writer for The Oregonian. "Some are asking questions. Some get it. They know the next time the team is .500, the coach could be gone."
After last year's fling with Tampa Bay, which ended in a mutual split, it took some work on the recruiting trail.
"When (Chip Kelly) went back to recruiting, he told the kids, 'We're (OK). Whenever you're good, you're going to get attention, and I'm going to listen,'" Fentress said. "He didn't promise he was going to be around for five or 10 years."
Oregon's 12-1 season, in which the Ducks finished No. 2 behind Alabama, didn't seem to be negatively impacted by the NFL's interest in Chip Kelly.
The recruits understood. College football isn't the game it used to be.
If Brian Kelly does leave for the NFL, he would be the first Notre Dame coach in the modern era to downgrade the job from destination to stepping stone.
Coaches don't get tenure; most are transients, loyal to the logo they happen to be wearing. It's a high-risk, high-reward profession. Another 8-5 this year and Notre Dame might have launched Brian Kelly. He understood the possibility existed. At 12-0 before the Alabama disaster, he's everyone's coach of the year.
Strike while the iron's hot.