Sunday will mark the start of a new era for LSU football. And her new coach, too.
For the first time since the 2009 season, Brian Kelly will not lead for Notre Dame, the team he left at the end of the 2021 season despite a Fighting Irish record of 11-1. Instead, he will begin the task of renewing a Tigers who just three years ago enjoyed one of college football’s greatest ever seasons with a 15-0 record and a national championship.
No pressure — and for Kelly, that might actually be the case. The coach has long dealt with the pressure that comes with leading a truly national program, and he’s never held back from a challenge.
But he also missed his ultimate goal of winning the title in South Bend. Despite all that Notre Dame could offer him, Kelly couldn’t bring him a national championship. Not that he didn’t get too close on multiple occasions.
And so, Kelly – who may have been a little convinced of the a 10-year contract worth $95 million He will now embark on the next challenge: Leading LSU in the Southeastern Stacked Conference. The first step is Sunday night’s game against Florida State.
Sporting News examines Brian Kelly’s decision to leave Notre Dame to work at LSU:
Why did Brian Kelly leave Notre Dame for LSU?
The reason was hinted at after the news spread Kelly was leaving Notre Damebut the new Tigers coach left no doubt in an April interview with The Associated Press on the eve of his first spring training at LSU.
“It was great because you have great facilities, you have players who want to be great,” he said He told the Associated Press. “I want to be in an environment where I have the resources to win a national championship. And I came here because I want to be in the American Eastern League.
“I felt like I did everything I could at Notre Dame and they felt like they did everything they could for me. I felt like we got to a point where they could do this, right? And that’s what I did. And we couldn’t get past that. Yeah? So here we are.” “
Indeed, Kelly described the growing rift between himself and the leadership of Notre Dame as it relates to the installations. At LSU, he no longer had to argue to improve it.
“I felt like what I was looking for was student-athlete centered,” Kelly said. “And I was pushing for more for student-athlete. And I wanted to see that piece. And we don’t seem to be on the same path in terms of how to get that done.”
Kelly pointed out one specific difference between LSU and Notre Dame in this regard: LSU has a nutrition center, a food court, and a chef dedicated solely to the football program and players.
“We don’t have that,” Kelly reflexively told the Associated Press of Notre Dame. “(Receive Notre Dame) pre-cooked food.”
On the contrary, LSU Athletic Director Scott Woodward has pledged support to Kelly and the football team that will run all the way through University President William F.
“He got my homework done and I didn’t have to sell,” Woodward told The Associated Press. “He knew the answer to the question.”
Fighting Irish sports director Jack Swarbrick gave credence to Kelly’s answer in November when he said he “Not surprised” With the decision of the coach to leave.
“There was enough in the weeks leading up to this that it gave me a strong sense that there might be other things that are attracting Brian,” Swarbrick said.
What was Brian Kelly’s record at Notre Dame?
Kelly has Most internship wins in school history. He took the 106th win on September 26, passing by Knut Rocken. He finished the Notre Dame stint with a record 113-40.
This includes an 11-1 campaign in 2021 where the Fighting Irish were a fringe team in the playoff. In the midst of continued success – and on the cusp of another possible extension – Kelly makes clear his belief that he will not be able to advance further in South Bend.
Kelly’s annual Notre Dame records:
|year||register||Final AP Rank||bowl (result)|
|2010||8-5||–||Sun Paul (win)|
|2011||8-5||–||Champions Bowl (loss)|
|2012||12-1||4||BCS Championship (lose)|
|2013||9-4||20||Pencil Case (Beat)|
|2014||8-5||–||Music City Bowl (win)|
|2015||10-3||11||Fiesta Bowl (loss)|
|2017||10-3||11||Citrus bowl (beat)|
|2018||12-1||5||Cotton Bowl (Loss)|
|2019||11-2||12||universal camping pot (win)|
|2020||10-2||5||Rose Bowl Semi-Final (loss)|
|2021||11-1||8||Fiesta Bowl (loss)|
When was the last national football championship for Notre Dame?
Notre Dame hasn’t won a national title since 1988, with its closest post-season ranking coming in 1993 when it was second behind Florida State, the team it beat in the regular season.
He led Kelly’s Fighting Irish to the cusp of three national championships, but the team failed to face the ultimate national champion each time:
- 2013 BCS Championship (lose 42-14 to Alabama)
- 2018 College Football Playoff Semifinals (loss 30-3 to Clemson)
- College Football Semifinals 2020 (loss 31-14 to Alabama)
However, Notre Dame’s struggles on the big stage predate Kelly. Here is the team’s record in New Year’s Day 6 draw cup games since 1988, the last Notre Dame title season:
|Plate||result||Final record||Final AP Rank|
|2022 Fiesta Bowl||No. 9 Oklahoma State 37, No. 5 Notre Dame 35||11-2||8|
|2021 Rose Bowl (CFP Semi-Finals)||No. 1 Alabama 31, No. 4 Notre Dame 14||10-2||5|
|2018 Cotton Bowl (CFP Semi-Finals)||No. 2 Clemson 30, No. 3 Notre Dame 3||12-1||5|
|2016 Fiesta Bowl||No. 7 Ohio 44, No. 8 Notre Dame 28||10-3||11|
|BCS 2013 Championship Game||No. 2 Alabama 42, No. 1 Notre Dame 14||12-1||4|
|2007 Sugar Bowl||No. 4 LSU 41, No. 14 Notre Dame 14||10-3||17|
|2006 Fiesta Bowl||No. 4 Ohio State 34, No. 5 Notre Dame 20||9-3||9|
|2001 Fiesta Bowl||No. 5 Oregon 41, No. 10 Notre Dame 9||9-3||15th|
|1996 orange bowl||No. 8 Florida 31, No. 6 Notre Dame 26||9-3||11|
|1995 Fiesta Bowl||No. 4 Colorado 41, Notre Dame 24||6-5-1||Unavailable|
|1994 Cotton Pot||No. 4 Notre Dame 24, No. 7 Texas A&M 21||11-1||2|
Notre Dame used three weak coaches after their last national title and before Kelly arrived: Bob Davy (35-25), Tyrone Willingham (21-15) and Charlie Weiss (35-27) who lasted five, three and five seasons respectively.
For comparison, LSU has won three national championships in the past 20 years: in 2003 under current Alabama coach Nick Saban; in 2007 under Lee Miles; and in 2019 under the leadership of Ed Orgeron.
Kelly will aim to become the fourth consecutive LSU coach to reach its peak.