Updated: Feb 19
By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Heading into year 2, the spotlight and crosshairs are firmly trained on LSU Head Coach Brian Kelly more than ever before:
Not only will his LSU Tigers be expected to deliver a strong follow-up campaign after 10 wins and an SEC West crown in 2022, but both Kelly's personal demeanor and personal life have become fodder for the public consumption of the media turbine.
Over the last 35 hours, a story this reporter had already been informed about a a month and a half ago (but wisely didn't act much upon) was leaked to a publication located right on LSU's own campus.
In this era of "breaking news social media clout," this known & respected site jumped at the chance to break a story due to its salacious Brian Kelly divorce headline.
Yes...it's true: anyone who knows anything about SEO (search engine optimization) understands that "BRIAN KELLY" is a major search engine buzz phrase in these post-Notre Dame days of thunderous reinvention.
That said, we all know this circus waiting on Kelly's every move, breath, or dance fail is getting absurd or even creepy.....but now, when families are dragged through mud without thought or hesitation, you have to wonder why they wanted to break this 'news' in the first place?
As someone who had a reputable source on this a month and change ago, I can tell you exactly why they did: clicks, hits but most of all, that feeling of relevancy.
It can be funny....this imaginary, theatrical wall between journalist and subject....the pedestal guillotine for those about to rock....one more giant subterranean buzz kill to get your fix of repurposed, purchased, and flummoxed "breaking news" from the copy and paste people.
....sure....divorce is always a juicy story, the break up of a family is always a big time scoop, right?
Well....if it was actually true...then perhaps....but it's still a greasy move to push that story....
....but the Kelly family's definitive, defiant responses sent a clear message, his son Patrick calling the TigerRag posts "fake news" with photos of his parents looking very cozy together.
In the end, he did file for divorce in a Louisiana court......so...what is this all about??
2022 was a turbulent first season for Brian Kelly, beginning with a long clean-up process in the wake of Coach Orgeron's scandal-laden firing.
There were plenty of personnel issues, from a loss of talent in key positions or a pure lack of bodies to fill up the necessary depth at certain spots.
The off-season was a grind of nonstop, unceasing, endless work....in three different directions at once:
Kelly simultaneously attempted to fix his program for the future (recruiting), fix his program for the now (roster management, retention or portal pursuits), and repaired a program's eroding past (fixing the culture with new academic & disciplinary requirements).
As for Brian Kelly's debut SEC season, it was full of unbelievable highs (the two point conversion overtime victory vs Alabama, the beatdown comeback vs top 10 Ole Miss, the historic wins @ Auburn & Florida)...some unforeseen lows (the week 1 disaster that became a near overtime comeback win, only to end as a traumatic heartbreaker, the hefty loss to Tennessee & of course the embarrassing, College Football Playoff-denying defeat to A&M)....but in the end, Tiger fans were able to learn a lot about their Head Coach.
Adapting to every twist and turn throughout the season, Kelly did an immaculate job taking the Tigers back to the SEC Championship Game during his inaugural season.
In a year where LSU fans wanted to bench a quarterback who set LSU records in only his first season with the Tigers, in a year where the politics of personnel decisions became more intense than at anytime amid the Orgeron era, Brian Kelly did a hell of a job, all while taking on an avalanche of criticism (most undeserved, some deserving).
After that kind of swaggering season....beating Napier's Florida in the Swamp, taking Kiffin's Ole Miss out to the woodshed after suffering a 17-3 deficit, toppling King Saban in the ballsiest, most defiant manner possible....of course the target on Brian Kelly's back only continues to expand by the day.
With a Heisman hopeful set to start, backed by a fearless, talented 2nd string stunner, containing a bevy of weapons on offense, a top 10 defense from Matt House, alongside a rotating cast of aces within the trenches, LSU will be must see TV in 2023, and apparently, so is there Head Coach....
Concerning whether he is divorced or not....that isn't our business and I can tell there's a lot more to the story than what you've read, watched or listened to.
By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
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