In a stunning turn of events that many (especially those in South Bend) would consider a betrayal of the highest order, longtime Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly informed his players late Monday night that he had accepted a job at LSU, replacing Ed Orgeron as the new head honcho in Baton Rouge. Kelly had planned to explain his decision in greater detail the following morning at 7 AM. That meeting couldn’t have taken long with Kelly seen leaving campus 11 minutes after his scheduled farewell address. Players were quick to follow, trickling out of Guglielmino Athletics Complex (aka “The Gug”) at 7:23.
Kelly leaving Notre Dame at the altar, abandoning a program he helped revitalize with playoff berths in both 2018 and 2020 (the Fighting Irish also appeared in the 2012 BCS National Championship, falling to an Alabama team littered with future pros including Amari Cooper, Eddie Lacy, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and C.J. Mosley), was a shock to the system, representing a seismic shift in the college football landscape. Kelly’s mass text message to players was poorly received with many dismissing it as a case of “too little too late” after learning the news from national media outlets hours earlier.
It also wasn’t lost on fans that Kelly updated his Twitter bio to “LSU head coach” before the Tigers had even announced his hiring.
Not that college football coaches are ever to be trusted (politicians are more honest), but Kelly’s defection to LSU comes on the heels of an emphatic denial last week, putting Notre Dame’s rabid fanbase at ease by assuring he had no plans to leave the program. LSU got their man, but he didn’t come cheap with Kelly commanding a reported sum of $95 million over the next 10 seasons.
Not only did Kelly pull a fast one on his recruits with his sudden decision to jump ship, but he also left his players and coaching staff out to dry, bolting for the Bayou with Notre Dame potentially a Cincinnati, Alabama or Michigan loss away from punching their third College Football Playoff ticket in the last four seasons. This is shaping up to be an unusually chaotic coaching carousel with jobs opening up at Oklahoma (the result of USC poaching Lincoln Riley), Duke, Fresno State, FIU, Akron, Temple and now, Notre Dame. Florida, Virginia Tech, TCU, Washington, Washington State, SMU, Texas Tech, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State and UConn had been in the same position before recently hiring new leadership.
A two-time Associated Press Coach of the Year, Kelly finishes his 12-year Notre Dame tenure with 106 victories, the most in school history.