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What’s the Deal With Brian Kelly’s Accent in This Video?

In Friday’s Hot Clicks: the LSU football coach’s new personality, the Grizzlies’ historic shellacking of the Thunder and more.

He’s not fooling anyone

As good of a football coach as he is, Brian Kelly seemed like a questionable cultural fit when he was hired at LSU. He was born and raised in suburban Boston, went to Assumption College in Worcester, Mass., started coaching there and spent the rest of his career in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. Those places are a long way from the Bayou. After six years with Ed Orgeron—the ultimate Cajun—in charge, having this yankee replace him will be an adjustment for LSU fans.

Or will it?

Kelly was introduced at a press conference on Wednesday and addressed fans later that day at the Tigers’ men’s basketball game against Ohio. During that speech he sounded… different.

What’s up with that?! Listen to the way he elongates his vowels, particularly on the words “started,” “Tiger” and “family.” That doesn’t sound like a guy who’s spent his entire life north of the Mason-Dixon.

ESPN’s Jeff Darlington spliced Kelly’s speech to LSU fans together with the leaked audio of his farewell speech to his Notre Dame players to highlight just how different he sounds.

It sure does sound like Kelly, who arrived in Baton Rouge for the first time just a day earlier, is already trying to adopt a southern accent. But it is not very convincing. He sounds like a non-American actor auditioning for a role as a southern football coach. I half expected him to drop an “I do declare.”

It’s weird because at his press conference earlier on Wednesday he sounded just like he always does.

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Speaking to fans is obviously different from speaking to the media, so it’s natural for there to be some code-switching. But this isn’t a case of Kelly just being more energetic and less polished than he was with reporters. This is him trying on a whole new personality.

The least charitable reading of Kelly’s Foghorn Leghorn impression is that it’s a cynical ploy to ingratiate himself with the new fan base, which would require him to think the fans are stupid enough not to see through his sudden country-fried makeover. The more generous possible explanation is that Kelly, hearing his voice relayed back to him by the arena’s speakers, tripped over his words a bit. Or maybe there’s something in Coach O’s old office that’s slowly rubbing off on him.

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