Little by little, the Bill Lawton Room inside Tiger Stadium began to fill. LSU administrators, benefactors, media and even a few members of the coaching staff sat patiently waiting to hear from the next leader of the football program.
On Tuesday LSU President William Tate and athletic director Scott Woodward introduced Brian Kelly as the next LSU coach, a move seen by many around the program as one that will bring alignment and consistency to the program. Kelly is leaving behind quite a lot at Notre Dame to take on this new challenge in Baton Rouge.
He's leaving behind a program he spent 12 years building and finding a lot of success with, including this season. Though currently ranked No. 6 in the College Football Playoff, there are scenarios where the Irish could back their way into the playoff and play for a national championship.
It's one of the reasons the idea of bringing Kelly to Baton Rouge at this stage in the search felt unlikely. Kelly has built a legacy as the winningest coach at a historic program but that championship chase is something he has yet to accomplish. Through conversations with Woodward and trusted members of his inner circle, Kelly saw an opportunity he just couldn't pass up.
"The opportunity to be here amongst the finest players, staff, coaches, being part of the SEC, it's an incredible challenge and opportunity in my life that I was excited to take on," Kelly said.
"Excellence in academics, athletics and seeing that, feeling that and now knowing that we can go out and fulfill that goal. It was an exciting vision for me to look at and as I got a chance to speak to more people about this opportunity, I felt it was something I had to take on. I believe I can make a significant difference here."
The resources, facilities and most importantly the backing of all who follow LSU athletics is a hard proposition to turn down for any coach. Kelly was able to do more at Notre Dame than most coaches who preceded him at that prestigious school, but there was something about LSU that spoke to him and ultimately convinced him to be the first coach in 114 years to leave South Bend for another college program.
Being a part of the SEC, having access to some of the top recruits in the country right in the backyard and the challenges that competing at LSU bring are all weights Kelly wants on his shoulders. Knowing there's plenty of work to be done, between the press conferences and photo ops, now Kelly's ready to get to work.
"We know the things that need to be done here but we'll be measured, we'll be thoughtful," Kelly said. "We'll be intentional in checking each one of those as we go. Investment in people is important, lives are involved here. We wanna take care of recruiting and make sure all of the young men know where they stand.
"There are important matters that we need to get too. We gotta get to work and we will do that in short order and get to the very important matters."