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Brian Kelly Embraces Challenge of Coaching at LSU, in the SEC

Kelly ready for new challenge after 12 year run at Notre Dame, talks challenges and early expectations for football program

After 12 years with the same program, Brian Kelly was ready for a new challenge. And the expectations that come with coaching at a championship level program like LSU, in the toughest conference in college football is just about as big a challenge as any coach can face.

During his introductory press conference on Wednesday, a lot of the questions asked were why now? What was it about the LSU job that made leaving the comfort of South Bend and Notre Dame such an appealing offer?

Kelly first and foremost was driven by the vision and direction of the LSU program that athletic director Scott Woodward laid out for him. But the competitor in him also looked around the SEC, the high level of football and pure number of elite coaches in the conference and thought that's an opportunity to attack. 

"The SEC, we know about its prowess in terms of success and the players and the teams and the coaches," Kelly said. "But I will say this: If LSU did not have the alignment and the leadership and the people and the desire for excellence, the SEC doesn't really matter to me. It's this university that happens to be in the SEC that matters to me the most.

"When you get this university, LSU, with the leadership that it has and the cohesiveness of leadership across the board, and it's in the SEC, ding, ding, ding. Right?"

The resources Kelly will have in terms of facilities and recruiting are unlike any he's had during his very successful career that spans over 30 years as a head football coach. A lot in recent days has been made about the fit and if Kelly is right for LSU and all of that comes with being the leader of the football program. 

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But Kelly looks at the success this conference has, the success that the Tigers' football program has had on the field and feels he can make a difference here. 

"I came down here because I wanted to be with the best," Kelly said. "The resources here are outstanding. Listen, you're looked at in terms of championships here. I want that. I want to be under the bright lights. I want to be on the Broadway stage. That's what my passion is."

Another part of the job is learning a different culture. Kelly has always lived up north and the culture of the south is something he and his family want to embrace. He's already starting to learn a little bit, mentioning the Garth Brooks concert that will be in Tiger Stadium next April. 

Kelly wants to immerse himself with this community and yes it will be a bit different for an outsider but that's part of the allure of taking on a new challenge. 

"I'm going to learn about Louisiana. My first day on Notre Dame's campus is when I took the job. This is my first day in Louisiana," Kelly said. "I didn't know what this (making L-shape with thumb and forefinger) meant until today. I know what it means today. I'm going to learn a lot more as we go. Our family, we're going to immerse ourselves into the culture of Louisiana. We're not here to change anything. We're here to get changed by it. That's going to be fun. That's exciting."

The next few weeks will no doubt be busy as Kelly decides on a coaching staff, makes recruiting plans and starts the process of building his culture with the program. It's all about the process for Kelly, who says if the process works, the results will take care of themselves and that's the message he wants this team and fanbase to know. 

"We're going to have a standard within our program that will be one that we build every single day. For us it will be an experience that we're looking forward to," Kelly said. "Success for us is going to be the process. I've always been focused on process and the outcomes will take care of themselves. When you've done it as long as I have and your process is good, I've never worried about what the outcomes look like."