LSU taps Brian Kelly to lead Bayou Bengals

Published 9:03 am Tuesday, November 30, 2021

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BATON ROUGE – The search for LSU Football’s next championship head coach is over.

Brian Kelly, who has more victories than any active coach in major college football, has been hired as the head football coach at LSU, LSU Director of Athletics Scott Woodward announced on Tuesday.

Kelly, who will receive a ten-year, $95 million contract, plus incentives, will be formally introduced as the 34th head coach in LSU Football history at a press conference on Wednesday.

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Fans are also invited to welcome Coach Kelly and his family when their flight arrives at the BTR Jet Center at approximately 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The most accomplished hire in program history, Kelly joins LSU – which has won national championships under each of its last three head coaches – with more than 280 career victories in his collegiate head coaching career, the most among active FBS coaches. He is one of only five active FBS coaches who have guided their programs to multiple undefeated regular seasons since 2009, and he has led his teams to the College Football Playoffs in two of the last three seasons.

“Brian Kelly is the epitome of a winner,” Woodward said. “He has built and sustained success at every program he’s led, from multiple undefeated regular seasons and National Coach of the Year honors to national titles and College Football Playoff berths. His credentials and consistency speak for themselves.

“Most importantly, Coach Kelly’s players and programs exemplify excellence in all aspects of the student-athlete experience – in competition, in the classroom, and throughout the community – and he shares our values and vision for elevating our university and our state. We’re thrilled to welcome him and his family to Baton Rouge, and we are excited to work with him as we add to the championship legacy of LSU Football.”

“I could not be more excited to join a program with the commitment to excellence, rich traditions, and unrivaled pride and passion of LSU Football,” Kelly said. “I am fully committed to recruiting, developing, and graduating elite student-athletes, winning championships, and working together with our administration to make Louisiana proud. Our potential is unlimited, and I cannot wait to call Baton Rouge home.”

In 31 years as a head coach, Kelly has amassed a record of 284-97-2, which ranks him first among all active FBS coaches in career victories, ahead of Alabama’s Nick Saban (272 wins) and North Carolina’s Mack Brown (265 wins). Kelly has only had two teams finish below .500 during his 31-year collegiate career.

For the past 12 years, he has served as the head coach at Notre Dame. He leaves South Bend as the Irish’s all-time winningest coach with 113 victories, moving ahead of legendary Knute Rockne for the top spot in 2021.  His 12-year mark at Notre Dame stands at 113-40, which includes a 54-9 mark over the past five seasons.During his Notre Dame career, Kelly led the Irish to the 2012 BCS national title game as well as College Football Playoff appearances in 2018 and 2020. He was named National Coach of the Year by numerous outlets in 2012 and 2018. He’s the only coach to win the Home Depot Coach of the Year Award more than once, and he’s done it three times (2009, 2012, and 2018).

In 12 seasons at Notre Dame, Kelly’s teams won at least 10 games seven times, including this year, as the Irish are 11-1 and ranked No. 6 in the nation. Notre Dame’s current streak of five straight seasons with double-digit wins includes a 10-3 record in 2017, followed by a 12-1 mark in 2018, 11-2 in 2019 and 10-2 in 2020.

Individually, Notre Dame players claimed eight consensus All-America honors playing for Kelly, while the Irish had players win nine national awards during that span. Kelly’s Notre Dame teams have produced 53 NFL Draft picks since 2012, including nine in the first round.

Academically under Kelly, the Irish had eight players earn the prestigious CoSIDA Academic All-America honor, and three were selected as National Football Foundation Scholar-Athletes. As a team, Notre Dame consistently ranked among the nation’s top four in the NCAA’s Graduation Success Rate.

Prior to joining the Irish, Kelly transformed Cincinnati into a football powerhouse, winning Big East titles in 2008 and 2009. In three years at Cincinnati, the Bearcats won 34 games and appeared in the Orange and Sugar Bowls. In 2007, Kelly led Cincinnati to the school’s first-ever 10-win season with a 10-3 mark and a win in the Bowl. In his final season at Cincinnati, Kelly’s team posted a 12-0 mark and earned a berth to the Sugar Bowl.

Kelly’s first Division I head coaching position came in 2004 when he took over at Central Michigan. In three years with the Chippewas, Kelly’s teams won 19 games, claimed the Mid-American Conference title in 2006 and appeared in a bowl game for the first time in 12 years.

Kelly’s first head coaching job came at Division II Grand Valley State in 1991, a position he held for 13 years. He won 118 games at Grand Valley State and led the Lakers to back-to-back national titles in 2002 and 2003. He won 41 games during his final three years in Allendale.

A native of Everett, Mass., Kelly was a four-year letterwinner at linebacker and two-time team captain at Assumption College in Worcester, Mass. He graduated from Assumption in 1983 with a degree in political science.

Kelly and his wife Paqui have three children – Patrick, Grace and Kenzel. The Kellys are active in community outreach and have established the Kelly Cares Foundation which has donated nearly $5.8 million to support causes related to the fight against breast cancer since its founding in 2008.