College Football has gone mad and in a good way that makes college football so much fun. Just a day after it was announced that Lincoln Riley was leaving Oklahoma to become the new head coach of USC, another major name in the sport followed suit.
Brian Kelly, who had coached at Notre Dame for the past twelve years, would be switching teams and moving down to Baton Rouge to take over the LSU job opening. LSU athletic director Scott Woodward said that he would land a “whale” for the program’s head coaching job, and he went and got one of the better coaches in the sport.
Kelly’s record at Notre Dame was 113-40 and he became the winningest head coach in Notre Dame history this season, had a few College Football Playoff appearances, and has sustained success at a tough place to win at, so why did he leave?
Simply it comes down to better resources, recruiting, and money. Kelly will receive a 10-year/$95 million contract plus incentives to become the new coach of the Tigers. Add in the fact that the resources LSU can provide him in terms of potential talent accumulation and the decision was an easy one for Kelly.
Now overseeing the most important sports team in the state of Louisiana, the rich recruiting grounds consistently produce some of the top talents across the county and Kelly has direct access to all of it. He has produced a top-20 recruiting class every year since he took over at Notre Dame and will look to continue that success at the helm of LSU.
While he won’t have the luxury of an “easy” schedule every season due to him taking over a team in the SEC, this presents a major challenge for Kelly but one that he should be able to live up to. In addition, with the College Football Playoff likely expanding, the opportunity for Kelly and LSU to get a shot at a title will increase. After all, the last three coaches at LSU all won national titles, so I’m sure that enticed Kelly in his decision to move his career down to Baton Rouge.
Just two seasons ago, the Tigers were on the top of the college football world but after two straight disappointing years and other internal issues, the program decided it was time to move on and find a new leader. One issue that will be talked about with Kelly is his potential fit at LSU, as he has no ties to Louisiana, but Kelly should be able to have success as long as he builds a strong culture within the program.
Despite strict academic requirements at Notre Dame, he and his staff were very successful in their recruiting efforts, and it showed on the football field. However, this isn’t just a Louisiana job because leading the Tigers requires building relationships around the Southeastern part of the country and Kelly will need to prove he is up to the fight.
LSU will give Kelly all the tools he needs to succeed including all the top-notch facilities, budgets, and institutional support that any coach would love to have. It also should be noted that LSU is the only Power-Five program in the state that holds a strong place to many high school prospects. He has a chance to go head-to-head with the likes of Nick Saban and Kirby Smart all while fielding similar, if not, better talent.
As bizarre and out of the blue as this hiring is, it also makes all the sense in the world, especially for Kelly. People may bring up loyalty but often in sports loyalty is only as strong as the dollar sign and this chance to coach a program like LSU was too good to pass on. Accepting the contract and job is the easy part but now it is time for Kelly to get to work to put LSU back on the map as a legit title-contending program year in and year out.