Kelly met her team at Notre Dame on Tuesday morning, would have for only 11 minutes, before leaving for LSU. He first informed the Fighting Irish of his decision via a group message on Monday evening, hours after reports surfaced that he had accepted the LSU position.
“I couldn’t be more excited to join a program with a commitment to excellence, rich traditions and unparalleled pride and passion for LSU football,” said Kelly. “I am fully committed to recruiting, developing and training elite student-athletes, winning championships and working with our administration to make Louisiana proud. Our potential is limitless and I can’t wait to call Baton Rouge home. “
Kelly has led the Fighting Irish since 2010, becoming the most successful coach in the history of the program this season. He is 113-40 overall at Notre Dame with two varsity football playoff spots and an appearance in the 2013 BCS Championship game. The Irish have a chance to advance to a third playoff this season. However, Notre Dame has struggled in its playoff appearances. He lost 30-3 to Clemson in 2018 and 31-14 to Alabama in 2020. Against Bama in 2013, ND lost 42-14 in one of the most crushing losses in BCS history.
“Brian Kelly is the epitome of a winner,” said LSU athletic director Scott Woodward. “He’s built and sustained success in every program he’s led, from several undefeated regular seasons and National Coach of the Year honors to national titles and college football playoff spots. Its references and consistency speak for themselves. Most importantly, Coach Kelly’s players and programs epitomizes excellence in all aspects of the student-athlete experience – in competition, in the classroom and across the community – and he shares our values and vision for uplift our university and our state. We are delighted to welcome him and his family to Baton Rouge, and we are delighted to work with him as we add to LSU Football’s championship legacy. “
The draw at LSU for Kelly is obvious. The Tigers’ last three coaches – Nick Saban, Les Miles, Ed Orgeron – have won national championships. Kelly would be able to take her recruiting to new heights and would likely be generously paid for it.
However, Notre Dame has found new life on the recruiting trail since Kelly hired Marcus Freeman of Cincinnati as the defensive coordinator. The Fighting Irish have forecast a top-five recruiting class in 2022 for the first time in a decade and are on an even hotter start in 2023.
When asked last week if he would be interested in other jobs, Kelly strongly denied. Apparently things have changed.
“I mean, look, I think Mike Tomlin had the best line, didn’t he?” Unless that fairy godmother comes with that check for $ 250 million, my wife will want to take a look at it first. I should lead it by her, ” this Kelly.
LSU contacted Kelly early in their process, with Kelly initially turning down the Tigers, according to The Athletic, who first reported that LSU was targeting Kelly on Monday.
With Riley off the board and Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher once again denying any interest in LSU, athletic director Scott Woodward has moved on to his next big-name target. Woodward is known to take swings. He’s the coach that brought Chris Petersen to Washington and Fisher to Texas A&M.
LSU sacked Orgeron after five years and a 51-20 record. He led the program to a perfect 15-0 season and a national championship in 2019, but has gone 11-11 in his last two seasons.
Woodward takes his big fish
Throughout LSU’s coach search, Woodward’s propensity to catch big names has been a storyline – and part of the reason the vacancy until Monday was sort of a surprise. Patience worked, however, because Woodward was able to pull it off again. But even hearing Kelly’s name linked to research, it came as a surprise.
Kelly is one of the most consistent coaches in the sport. He’s won at Grand Valley State, Central Michigan, Cincinnati, Notre Dame and he’s absolutely going to win football games at LSU.
This is one of the best college football jobs with endless resources and access to the recruiting ground. Woodward made a calculated decision that the Tigers don’t need to take risks. This is the sparkle rental that people expected from Woodward.
The fit is odd at best
Kelly, originally from Massachusetts, has never coached in the Southeast. Only seven of his 27 recruits in the 2021 class came from the South. Only two players on Notre Dame’s list are from the state of Louisiana.
Being LSU’s head coach means stepping in immediately and competing for these rookies, but Kelly is a different coach to say the least. Since its post-national championship match class in 2013, Notre Dame has failed to field a top-five recruiting class. (However, it should be noted that Notre Dame’s Class 2022 ranks # 4 nationally and Class 2023 ranks # 2, by 247Sports.) The Fighting Irish rank at a respectable No.12 in the composite. 247Sports Talent, but that would rank sixth. in the SEC, not to mention new entrants Texas and Oklahoma.
The SEC is a different animal. Kelly went from being a ball coach at Notre Dame to being a dynamic scout at LSU and quickly established new relationships in the South at age 60. Yes, LSU is recruiting to some extent. Not at a championship level, however.
Chase a bigger prize
Notre Dame has reached the college football playoffs in two of the past three seasons. The Fighting Irish have finished in the top 12 in four consecutive seasons and are well on their way to reaching a fifth. By all indications, Notre-Dame is lining up its best days since Lou Holtz.
But despite all the success, Notre Dame failed to achieve championship caliber status under Kelly’s watch. Going south to the pace of college football recruiting gives Kelly the best possible chance to fix this problem.
We hope to know what motivated Kelly’s decision in the coming days. Let’s be clear: he is entering a profession where the three previous coaches have all won national championships. If he plays his cards right, Kelly can also win what has been an elusive ring for him at the highest level.
The Coaching Carousel continues to send shockwaves through the college football landscape. The Cover 3 podcast gives instant reaction and analysis to LSU’s hiring of Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly.