If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that college football and morality rarely go hand in hand. Which is why LSU was eager to hire Brian Kelly, a known disciplinarian, as its next head football coach. LSU’s $95-million investment in Kelly was a deliberate effort by the program to help change its image, turning the page on the chaos and controversy that prevailed throughout the lawless reigns of Les Miles and Ed Orgeron.
Of course, it’s debatable whether this portrayal of Kelly is accurate with many questioning the abrupt nature of his departure, leaving his players high and dry mere days after insisting he had no intention of taking a job elsewhere. Was Kelly’s decision to hop aboard the LSU bandwagon a betrayal of his players and staff or merely the cost of doing business in a soulless college football landscape where loyalty earns you little more than a pat on the back? That’s a matter of opinion, though most would agree the stunt Kelly pulled on grad assistants Robert Saleh and Matt LaFleur—now coaching the Jets and Packers respectively—during his stint with Central Michigan was both humiliating and needlessly cruel.
With Kelly headed to Baton Rouge, Trevor Woods of SB Nation thought Tuesday would be a good time to resurface an anecdote from a 2019 story by ESPN Packers reporter Rob Demovsky, who described a time when Saleh and LaFleur were invited to Kelly’s house, not as guests, but to shovel snow and park cars while their boss entertained partygoers inside. Rather than treat Saleh and LaFleur as equals, Kelly essentially reduced them to valets, dangling their party invitations like a carrot on a stick. Saleh and LaFleur decided from that day forward to never abuse their positions of authority, preferring to nurture and empower assistant coaches instead of bullying or manipulating them.
While it’s unfair to judge Kelly based off one incident early in his coaching career, it clearly had an impact on Saleh and LaFleur, who never forgot what their coach did to them that winter night in snowy Mount Pleasant, Michigan.