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Closing The Book On The Brian Kelly Era At Notre Dame

Now that he has been formally introduced at LSU the Brian Kelly chapter at Notre Dame is officially complete

There were always awkward press conference moments for former Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly.

Or jokes that he thought were funny that flopped.

Any Notre Dame fan watching Kelly’s first press conference as the LSU football coach got to see it all again on Tuesday.

The unintended digs, the compliments about Notre Dame that seem insincere now, the painful acknowledgment that he’s chasing current Notre Dame assistants, and the talk of a National Championship that he never achieved as the Fighting Irish coach.

It was a full view of Kelly, who despite the double-talk, is one of the top college football coaches in the country. It’s worth noting, though, that his record against top 10 opponents at ND was 3-8.

Kelly, wearing a purple tie with an LSU pin, said there is never a graceful way to leave one job for another.

In this instance, less than 48 hours after Kelly was pushing for Notre Dame to be a playoff football team after a 45-14 victory over Stanford, Kelly had agreed to coach the Tigers for a reported contract of $95 million over 10 years.

It’s likely that Kelly knew when he was taking his post-victory Gatorade chug with his players that it could be the last locker room moment he’d share with them. Kelly said a 45-minute conversation with LSU Athletics director Scott Woodward sold him on taking the job. His agent Trace Marshall had reportedly been in contact with LSU officials before ND played Stanford.

Kelly returned to South Bend Monday at 7 a.m. to give a speech that lasted a little under four minutes. Then, he left brusquely.

“It could never be done in a fashion that you could like say, ‘Hey, it’s always the right way to do it,” Kelly said. “This team at Notre Dame is an outstanding football team. They deserve to be in the playoffs, and you’re not going to coach them. It’s never easy when you leave. We did our best. I wanted to get in front of them. I was fortunate I was able to get in front of them and tell them I was coming to LSU face-to-face. That's everything we’ve done in my life and we’ll do the same thing here at LSU. We’ll be transparent.”

As for chasing current Notre Dame assistants, Kelly said that’s a possibility. Kelly has reportedly offered defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman and offensive coordinator Tommy Rees jobs on his staff. Freeman is interviewing for the head coaching job and Rees reportedly doesn’t want to leave.

“The coaches that are on staff there are still employed there,” Kelly said. “Are there coaches that I would like to join me here? Certainly, but that’s a process but that is a process we’ll have to work through. There are teams to coach on both sides. This team is preparing for a bowl game. Hopefully, Notre Dame gets a chance to play in the playoffs. They have to be prepared. This needs to be done with great communication and understanding that the players are a part of this too.”

Kelly said he didn’t have a plan to leave Notre Dame after the 2021 season but that Woodward presented him with an opportunity that was too good to pass up. Kelly, however, must have been eager to listen since it only took 45 minutes for him to be convinced.

“It was an exciting vision for me,” Kelly said of Woodward’s pitch. “As I got a chance to speak to more people about it, I just felt it was something I needed to take on. And when I talked to the boss (Paqui Kelly), who is sitting in the front row there, and she was a part of the decision-making process, there was no turning back.”

Kelly said that he came to LSU because he wanted to be “with the best.”

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“The resources here are outstanding, “ he said. “It starts with the alignment-excellent. The standards, of expectations. Listen, you are 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.”

In one final weird Kelly moment, he noted that he was excited to have Garth Brooks play at Tiger Stadium before its home opener.

“That’s pretty cool,” he said. “I got a chance to see him at the other place I was at and he's really good.”

The other place was Notre Dame.

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