BATAN ROSE, Louise – Like all good coaches, Brian Kelly knows what lies ahead. The university football world has for some time wanted a definitive answer to why the former Notre Dame coach has changed jobs, culture and, um, accents to take on the position of new LSU coach.
“It’s a million dollars, isn’t it?” Said Kelly to the visitor. “It only took 3 minutes [to ask]? ”
In fact, it was a 6 minute conversation. You want to ease difficult inquiries with a subject like Kelly, although he was happy to serve.
– Did you go down and see the training table? He asks from his office on the second floor.
Of course. You can’t miss the thoughtful layout of chef Michael Johnson on the ground floor of the LSU football operations building. Johnson is so talented and so dedicated to his job that he leaves a few days before the road games as a kind of culinary quality control coach. Johnson once ran into an uncooked chicken cooked at a team hotel. Being a super-competitive SEC, he wasn’t sure it was a coincidence.
“Did you go to Hugh’s?” Kelly followed, referring to the Guillemin athletics complex in Notre Dame. “There is no training table. We bring food from the buffet. Lunch in a bag, lunch in a box.
Kelly is not over.
“This building was not built to serve these areas. It was not a university vision. I have no problem with that. They built this building to meet both the locker and all. We outgrew it. I asked for it to be resolved in 2016 and we were in 2022. ”
Eventually, Kelly stepped out the door. It would be simplistic to say that the best coach of Notre Dame failed due to lack of complex carbohydrates, but it is he who makes points. LSU has the best of all – the same as Notre Dame, only in a different way.
After 12 years, maybe it’s just time to try another “best”. It should be said that Kelly philosophically separated from his superiors in Notre Dame. In any case, it is the process that makes his migration here one of the best stories of the offseason.
“We were just somewhere else,” Kelly said. “I do not blame anyone. We were elsewhere in terms of what I thought of the next step [should be] after five consecutive 10 or more winning seasons ”.
“I have another run,” the coach added. “I am waiting for another four years [for my requests to be addressed]or shall we flee?
After winning 113 games in 12 years, Kelly’s Irish program took just 10 days to say “yes” to LSU. On November 22, 2021, Kelly said she would need a “godmother fairy”. [who] comes with this check for $ 250 million “to pull it out of South Bend, Indiana. It was presented to LSU on Dec. 2 with a 10-year deal for $ 95 million. Approximately 70% guaranteed.
Kelly may not have been the first choice. LSU reportedly offered Jimbo Fisher of Texas A&M $ 13 million a year. Lincoln Riley’s name was also mentioned before the former Oklahoma coach set out to help revive the USC program. But when it became clear that Kelly was interested, LSU sporting director Scott Woodward jumped. The couple has a story: Woodward was interviewed at Kelly in Washington 14 years ago before hiring Steve Sargsyan.
“High IQ, very organized, won wherever he was,” Woodward said. “When I found out he was shot, I quickly became serious.”
Shortly thereafter, it became “BK Unplugged” – half not banned from any Notre Dame restrictions, half assimilated to Louisiana’s unique culture.
“Notre Dame,” said the 60-year-old coach, “is a little buttoned up.”
It seems like yes when a new guy dances with a tight end recruit. This there is thus, when the introduction of a coach at a basketball game goes viral for the way he pronounces “family”.
“It wasn’t far-fetched,” Woodward said.
“I had no idea I was speaking with a southern accent,” Kelly said.
But don’t forget that the coach is immersed in the transition from the buttoned up to the party.
“Content is the new arms race of all. It accepts,” said Emily Dixon, LSU’s creative director. “He was open to everything.”
“Here the kids want you to be a part of this,” Kelly said. “When they say, ‘Coach, come on.’ How many times can you say “no” to a child before he says “He’s not cool. He says“ no ”to me all the time.
Suddenly the Massachusetts native arrived as the religious leader of the Midwest to take over SEC power.
Ask him out well if he is no longer absorbed in the connection. Keep in mind: it took Ed Orgeran’s own son less than 1 ½ season to travel from undefeated country champion coach to unemployed country champion coach.
“I wish I could cover it up and say, ‘This is cultural wilderness,’ but there’s nothing to say about that,” Kelly said of his assimilation as a replacement for Orgeron.
“There’s nothing green in your diet downstairs,” he added. “Vegetables are a belated thought. Everything else is etuf, red beans and rice. I love it. The food is great … people are friendly, unpretentious. They love football. It’s Catholic. There’s a damn Catholic church on every corner.
“Everyone was like,‘ What about the transition? ’It must have been harder in South Bend than it was [go to] Batan Rouge. You get into a situation where you know why you’re here. You are here to win the national championship and play in the American League of the East. ”
The Premier League baseball link is a comparison to the SEC West, the toughest division in the sport. In these parts, the season with 10 wins is not good enough, and Kelly – who has never even attended a noisy night game at Tiger Stadium – will soon learn about it.
Since his arrival, Kelly has brought in 42 new employees. They are networked through Teamworks, a software operating system that helps sports departments get organized and communicate. This is a collegial standard. Kelly says that when he arrived, there were two schools that did not use Teamworks: Wake Forest and LSU.
“They talked here like an old-fashioned piece of paper,” he said. “It took me a good two weeks to figure out what the operating systems are here. A lot started with Nick [Saban] and has never changed much. ”
Saban took a position at LSU in 2000 and quickly showed what could be achieved at a time when there was just a middle-class SEC program. Saban erected an imaginary recruiting fence around the state and three years later won the national championship. Les Miles won his own national title in 2007, and Orjeron made it 3 to 3 among LSU coaches in the 21st century with his record-breaking Tigers in 2019.
Kelly talked a lot with Saban before and after moving to get advice.
“It was like,‘ You’d be crazy not to take it, ’” Kelly said.
“It starts with being able to recruit within 3 hours of your campus,” he added. “The institutions are great, but you can ruin the facilities. If you understand which state of Louisiana and how to recruit these young people, you will win here at LSU. Each of these coaches has done so.”
Forget about objects. The big reason Kelly accepted the transition to the SEC is that it provides better access to the college football playoffs. He wouldn’t say it out loud, but Notre Dame had to go 12-0 to get into the CFP, playing as an independent without a championship conference. The SEC’s access to the championship remains the best, as it previously boasted several teams in the BCS Championship and College Football Playoff games.
Alabama and Georgia met for the second time in the CFP national championship just last season. The SEC teams have taken nine of the 14 places in the last seven games for the national championship.
This gives a clear message that you don’t need to win a conference to play for everything. This is secondary to LSU fans who watched their Tigers finish a draw at the SEC West for the first time since 1999.
The buzzwords around Kelly’s hiring include “structure” and “accountability”. LSU is a bit off the map, but Kelly knows how to build a program. He brought from Notre Dame the “SWAT” program, which scores points for things like timely meetings, proper nutrition plan, etc.
Before taking the new position, Kelly tried to involve both Notre Dame coordinators: Marcus Freeman (defense) and Tommy Rice (attack). In the end, both remained. Balancing ND’s bid for the playoffs that week and the damage done by the long search, Fighting Irish AD Jack Swarbrick put Freeman as Kelly’s successor.
“It took me 19 years of coaching experience to ride the first couple of years in Notre Dame,” Kelly joked of his 16-10 start in the first two years with the Irish. “There will be some difficult places [for Freeman]. He is smart. He will rely on the people around him. ”
While Kelly may have exchanged boxed lunches for gumbo with shrimp at the training table, he also traded more pressure. LSU believers expect to compete for national championships, which means defeating Alabama, Texas A&M and Auburn to just earn a place in the SEC championship game.
This should be the honeymoon season. After the destruction – academic inconsistencies, transitions, injuries, media disqualifications and graduations – Kelly says he has 36 fellows. So he got on the transfer portal like a boy from a fraternity at the time of closing.
247Sports ranks “Tigers” in 3rd place in its ranking of transfer portals. This includes the return of Miles Brennan – a quarterback who was a sixth-year, often injured, who went to the portal, but decided to stay – and the transfer of Arizona state Jaden Daniels.
If you haven’t figured this out yet, Kelly is all in a new one. He took the time to publish a mini-biography of each tiger who signed up for his final recruiting course. It’s refreshing that he can wrap up 85% of his recruiting class in the car.
“I was on a plane to Notre Dame for four weeks,” Kelly explained. “I would have to go to every state and pull their best player out of their flagship high school. When I went to California, I had to beat USC or UCLA. When I went to Texas, I had to beat Texas or A&M. When I went to Florida, I needed to beat Miami.
“Here they grow up and love LSU. What Nick put here, Nick put here.”