by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
It is official: LSU will hire Brian Kelly to a 10 year, $95 million deal, with the former Notre Dame coach as he's already touched down in Baton Rouge, now waiting & preparing for the official announcements and press conference alongside Athletic Director Scott Woodward.
LSU Odyssey delve deep into Kelly's career, and we've got three prime reasons why Kelly is the right hire:
BRIAN KELLY IS NOT AFRAID
While 38 year old sleek & stylish wunderkind Lincoln Riley rejected $100 million and bailed on the program he helped establish as a national QB power just to hide from the SEC, Notre Dame's Brian Kelly left the comforts of the last 9 years and dove headfirst toward the deep end of the SEC West....ready to get muddy, bloody and grind alongside the true top coaches of college football.
Brian Kelly knows the expectations at LSU....
He understands the stakes....
He could've stayed in South Bend forever, and maybe he would've won a title....who knows?
The shots at a title would at least be easier....
But no, he chose to leave perennial College Football Playoff success to win the ultimate prize: a CFP National Championship.
An unheard of move of absolute steel cajones during College Football's current coaching carousel climate:
Everyone looks to make the path to greatness easier....everyone is looking to get paid top dollar whether they have a vision or not....
Yes.....Kelly hasn't won a championship.....however, in a world where Lincoln Riley is doing anything to run from the SEC, the former Notre Dame Head Coach just proved to the college football world he's not afraid to beat the best to be the best.
He recognizes there's only one way to prove you're the best out there....he's done climbing the ladder.....at LSU, Kelly has now reached the mountaintop of the sport.....all that's left to do is win.
Going toe to toe against Saban's Alabama next November will be a highly anticipated showdown between the two coaches who contested the 2013 BCS National Championship Game & last year's 2021 Rose Bowl semifinal....although, I have to admit, I already feel a lot more confident heading into the 2022 Bama game than I did during any year under Orgeron or Miles barring 2011, 2015 or 2019.
This is a man who's ready to put his boot up the SEC West's ass....and he's also not afraid to get his ass kicked if it means victory........this man is not backing down from a street fight if that's what it takes to supply a title. He's not going to shy away from anything or anyone.....
Just from an optics standpoint, without him having to say a damn word, his move to LSU screams alpha badass.
Due to Notre Dame holding the 4th ranked recruiting class in the nation currently, you have to feel Brian Kelly would be a knockout home-run hitter each and every cycle within the magical state of Louisiana.
No more extremely difficult academic obstacles just for admittance, let alone keeping the scholarships; No more tiresome fighting against the freezing, bitter Midwestern cold of South Bend; No more fighting against the SEC recruiters....
No more having to keep the links to Knute Rockne or Brady Quinn's Wikipedia pages on his phone's clipboard........not anymore.....
Look at the nationally ranked classes Kelly put together in South Bend since 2010:
2011: 9th, two 5 stars
2012: 17th, one 5 star
2013: 5th, two 5 stars
2016: 15th, one 5 star
2020: 18th, one 5 star
2021: 4th, one 5 star, sixteen 4 stars
This man is a national recruiter in the greatest sense of the word....if there is anyone who can explode LSU's brand nationally, it wasn't going to be Coach Ed Orgeron; As well as he can recruit, one of the greatest of all time, the man's demeanor doesn't translate in every single living room in America.......Brian Kelly's mentality plays in pretty much every state in the country...
The man can adapt.......whether he's in Ocala, Jonesborough, Alexandria, Mars, Clarkston, flipping Georgia-native & LSU commit Khari Gee, snagging highly prized LB Prince Kollie or grabbing Louisiana-based running back Logan Diggs out of Metairie, hell......Kelly just signed 5 players out of the state of California this past cycle!
From 2017 to 2020, Brian Kelly didn't sign a single 5 star player: he still guided Notre Dame to a College Football Playoff during 2019, and a 10-3 Fiesta Bowl appearance after 2018, leading up to his signing of 5 star tight end Michael Mayer to headline the 2020 class.
The man has frankly been shortchanged for his accomplishments, even by us....proof that everyone missed the target here....everyone.....and Scott Woodward is still laughing.
His first gig, after graduating from Assumption University, was at Grand Valley State, spending 16 years climbing from graduate assistant to defensive coordinator before finally grabbing the head coaching job.
Kelly held the position from 1991 to 2003....a hell of a long ride in Allendale, Michigan at the Division II level.
This is where he weathered storms, fought through frustration, battled for years among the wilderness, kept grinding and eventually led Grand Valley State to consecutive Division II titles from 2002-2003........initiating his climb to the Central Michigan job.
Replacing Les Miles buddy Mike DeBord at Central Michigan, Kelly arrived into a situation that was dire; an under-funded, barely recruited roster which had only surpassed 3 wins just once in the previous four seasons before Kelly landed.
But Brian quickly turned things around, lifting the Chippewas to their first winning season in 7 years by year #2; Then, in 2006, Kelly's CMU squad won 9 games, the MAC Championship title, and an invite to the Motor City Bowl.
Of course....this was when Cincy came calling.
Beginning in 2006, Brian Kelly took the job at Cincinnati, turning a lower level school into the same echelon as Petersen's Boise State, and steadily built the framework Luke Fickell currently enjoys:
In his first season, Kelly won Big East Coach of the Year, led the Bearcats to a 10 win season and finished with a top 25 ranking; During 2008-2009, Cincy went to consecutive BCS games, an Orange Bowl loss vs Virginia Tech, as well as securing their place in the Sugar Bowl that next season.
But much like his move from Notre Dame to LSU, Kelly wouldn't be sticking around to coach during the prestigious New Orleans Superdome-based BCS bowl:
He doesn't rest on his laurels....even if it costs himself prestige.
Notre Dame targeted Kelly, becoming impressed by the Cincy head coach's ability to rejuvenate a lifeless program; Looking at their then 4-8 disposition, and following the disintegration of the Charlie Weis era, John B. Swarbrick Jr immediately made him their head coach.
Ever since the appointment, Kelly has conjured modern marvels in South Bend, rejuvenating a broken program and energizing a dying brand. His work at Notre Dame has been so effortless, that at times it falls under the radar.
Kelly finished his South Bend stint with 113 wins and 40 defeats, taking the team to the 2012 BCS National Championship Game, 2 BCS bowl game appearances and 2 trips to the College Football playoff, including last year. As T-Bob Hebert pointed out on his brilliant show ESPN 104.5's Off The Bench, Kelly went 54-9 over his past 5 seasons altogether at Notre Dame....
As we've just pointed out, he knows what it's like to turn things around....and at LSU, there's some fixing to do....however.... from a resources, recruiting, personnel and infrastructure perspective, Kelly should turn the Tigers into contenders instantly.
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Copyright 2021 Uninterrupted Writings Inc
SHOUTOUTS: WELCOME COACH BRIAN KELLY!