Brian Kelly Reportedly Abandoning Notre Dame for LSU

There are shocking news stories in sports, and then there are stories that hit you like a Mack truck out of nowhere. Tonight qualifies as the latter. According to several reports, Brian Kelly will reportedly be named the head coach at LSU as earlier as tomorrow, leaving Notre Dame in the middle of the night with the Irish on the verge of a potential playoff bid in just a few days.

Wow. To say I never saw this coming was an understatement. This is an uppercut to the jaw I never saw coming. Brian Kelly, fresh off completing an 11-1 season with the Irish likely ranked 5th or at worst 6fh in the College Football Playoff rankings tomorrow, walking away for LSU? Not even an NFL job?

When Lincoln Riley left Oklahoma for USC on Sunday, it was big news because moves like this don’t happen. In Riley’s case, at least his team was eliminated from Playoff contention. If true, Brian Kelly is walking away from his team with them still very much alive with a chance for a national title. Money obviously talks, but I can’t imagine there are many instances of coaches who have walked away from their teams when they still have an opportunity to win a title that same season.

Making this all the more surprising is just last week, Kelly was asked whether not he could ever see himself leaving Notre Dame for another job, and he jokingly said no unless someone paid him $250 million because he’d need to run that by his wife.

Days after Notre Dame was embarrassed in the 2013 BCS Championship game at the hands of Alabama, Kelly flirted with an NFL job with the Philadelphia Eagles. After a couple of days of letting Notre Dame twist in the wind, Kelly decided on staying at Notre Dame. This time around, the flirtation was more serious, and it looks like Notre Dame will be in the market for a new coach.

There will be a lot of introspection on Brian Kelly and his time at Notre Dame over the following weeks and months, but it’s safe to say that he will ultimately be seen as a villain and public enemy number one to many Notre Dame fans. It’s also safe to say that he won’t be welcomed back to campus any time soon – or ever.

Where Notre Dame goes from here is unknown. Every good AD always has a list of potential successors, but you have to think that Jack Swarbrick did not expect to be in this position. He and Brian Kelly were attached at the hip, it seemed. Appearance can be deceiving, I suppose.

The apparent short-term fix is to name Marcus Freeman interim head coach and then regroup before the recruiting class falls apart. Commits who were set to enroll at Notre Dame next month have been tweeting their shock and disappointment all night long but have also been tweeting their support for Freeman. There is the whole matter of Notre Dame still hoping to make the playoffs. How Kelly’s departure impacts the Playoff Committee’s rankings will be interesting to see.

Regardless of the Playoffs or not, Notre Dame needs a coach for whatever bowl game the Irish land in. This season has been far too good for it to fall apart now.

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  1. I read in one article, as an explanation: “Swarbrick says he felt a sense of restlessness from Kelly recently and that the former head coach had a Freudian slip or two that made Swarbrick think Kelly was ready to move. In a video released today by LSU, they include an old quote from Kelly saying that “the expectation for me was to be a legitimate contender for championships.”
    Wow! So, it was just about his own personal desires and the money all along, even if that meant disguising his true intentions. Never a fan of his, I always was convinced he was a “ND man”, a deep down “Blue and Gold” head coach.
    How naive! I won’t bother to wish him good luck. Just leave, don’t let the door hit you in the a–, good riddance. Hope to see you somewhere down the line. You’re a chump!

      1. Welcome to SEC football and its rabid fan base, over-rated, under-achieving Brian Kelly!

      2. SFR: LIke me, you probably didn’t realize poor “tommy mc donnelL” was so put off by pointed comments about Brian “BIg Game” Kelly.

        Had we known, and kept the criticism down, ND would be SO much better off now.

        So tommy….do you watch football at all?
        Or does your big sister Rhonda hog the remote on Saturdays?

    1. Indeed. A career almost devoid of “signature” wins and riddled with losses to teams like Tulsa and Navy. Kelly was outcoached and the team embarrassed in virtually every big game they played. Look up there at the big game list–one win v Clemson with their NFL-bound QB and leader benched with Covid. Couldn’t be competitive in the rematch.

      I cringed when he got that 106th win–taking 40 losses to pull it off in contrast to Rocke’s 12. That should not have been allowed to happen. Should have shown him the door 10 months ago. Very good coach but greatness will ever elude him. 11 wins this year against unranked teams and a loss to the only ranked one he faced. He can’t control the schedule, but it is not too much to ask an ND coach to win the only ranked team he plays.

      1. Within 24 hours of Lincoln Riley’s flip to USC 6 recruits decommitted from Oklahoma and two players entered the transfer portal. Within 24 hours of Kelly leaving ND one recruit decommitted and he was talking with other programs anyway so Kelly leaving was a good reason to announce it. Have you ever heard a recruit or player say that they came to ND to play for Brian Kelly? I haven’t. I’ve heard them speak highly of the assistant coaches who recruited them but never Kelly. The key is to keep Freeman and Rees. Kelly can have Pollian and Quinn.

  2. The next ND coach inherits an incredibly healthy program and one ready to compete for and win championships. Lofty expectations to say the least. Far different than taking over a dumpster fire like USC.
    Coach Kelly should be thanked for that. However, he is now the enemy and no longer part of the family.
    God bless the Irish and the USA.

  3. BK offers Freeman DC job and would make him highest paid assistant in the country.
    Jack states wasn’t surprised BK left, things been in the works for weeks that gave him the sense it was coming.
    Stay patient, make the best hire.

  4. For the bowl game, sounds like Swarbrick isn’t too cocerned about the whole “interim head coach” issue.

    For all the good he was on gamedays, just prop up a cardboard cutout of Brian Kelly.
    Clock manangmeent just as good, and no purple-faced tirades. .

  5. More accolades for a great season.
    Michael Mayer sets ND record for most tight end receptions in a single season. Great athlete and great coaching and player development.
    Looking forward to supporting the new staff once hired.

  6. Chris Peterson looked real bored doing his post game show over the weekend. Maybe he’s ready to coach again. Go after him as Peterson has a great offensive mind and wins wherever he goes. Retain Freeman any way you can.

    1. Swarbrick said the top criterion this time ’round is someone who “gets” ND.
      That seems more like Fickell than many other names, including perhaps Peterson.

  7. Fun fact:
    Rhonda — our resident black mean girl and MAGA enthusaist — spent what turned out to be Kelly’s last day as head coach praising and fellating him as a Notre Dame hero.

    Impeccable does not even begin to describe her timing…it’s as if she knew. and decided to retire from the UHND boards in a ball of flames. …but, of course, she just doesn’t have the balls.

    I, for one, will be more than happy to adopt her notorious ‘cut-and-paste’ technique of never letting her forget it.

  8. We can all be upset (as am I) but if we’re all being honest with ourselves, most of us would leave our jobs today if somebody offered us the same position, same responsibility, warmer climate and a 70-80% increase in pay. I know its hard to believe but most head coaches don’t make decisions based on how the fans might “feel”, what the boosters would like to see or who’s feelings might get hurt. They worry about their own family and their own bank account. It just sucks being blindsided like this but I guess that’s just life.

  9. I think Kelly leaving ND for LSU speaks volumes as far as the upside of the ND football program. compared to LSU and a few other programs who are driven to be the best they can be and will pay the price to get there. I believe Kelly recognize that ND has peaked and may not be able to sustain the momentum giving the resources ND is willing to commit, and limitations on recruiting.

    One thing for certain….no more B.K. coaching this team! Turn it over to Freeman for the remainder of the season, hopefully to coach the Irish in the CFP. I recall the time Friedman left Michigan right before the NCAA basketball tournament and replaced by Fisher, and UM won the title. Wouldn’t it be great if that scenario was repeated with ND football!

    1. You get a call from the doctor ….he tells you your cancer is gone.
      Do you now start wondering if your chest feels tight?

      You just beat cancer, dude!

  10. I confess, started disliking him from his first sideline F-bomb, remember? Never thought his pep talks were inspirational. His media comments were strewn with too many “you know’s”, to be genuine, his disrespect of Manti, and along with that, his ego problem. But my biggest objection to the Kelly era was his ‘bend don’t break’ attitude especially in the most important games. I’d like to see Freeman ‘turned loose’. I’d like to see the incoming OC ‘turned loose’ (yeah, hoping he takes Rees with his BK mentality with him). So what if it takes a couple of seasons for it to happen, we were not gonna be in the elite 4 under Kelly. This year for instance, 2 loss teams will make it over us. With relaxed ‘admissions’,
    Kelly at LSU, will do better than Kelly at ND. That’s a fact.

  11. Wow is right. I honestly didn’t see this coming. I have mixed feelings. I turned on BK after the infamous 2016 season, or more specifically when ND lost to Duke that season. At one time I thought he had elite potential, and yes, I was one of those who wanted ND to fire Weis when I knew BK was probably on the market. But once 2016 rolled around I realized he was never going to help ND bring a NC home. Now, in fairness, ND has improved since then. But they are still outside looking in.

    And I honestly don’t see BK winning NCs at LSU either.

    I have mixed feelings still. For BK to leave at this point, when ND will have a big bowl game to prepare for really shows to me the kind of guy he is. You know, up until know it was never personal for me. I never really had an issue with BK in that respect. If ND had won a NC under BK I would have gladly eaten crow. But now, yes, I can’t help but see him as a villain and if this news is true I hope he falls flat on his face at LSU.

    This does give ND a chance to find a better coach. But will they? Will they really? In all fairness, ND’s problems go deeper than just a HC. We have issues holding on to assistant coaches because the pay is weak in comparison to other elite schools. Assistants are crucial to an elite program too. And we can’t seem to grab 5 star recruits. If you look at NC level teams, they generally have a few of those.

    And I hate to break it to everyone but the Nick Saban’s of the world are not coming to ND. That’s a fact. The best hope for the Irish in the way of a HC is a future elite coach. Someone who is not elite yet that ND is lucky enough to grab onto and they rebuild ND into an elite program.

    My biggest fear is ND goes backwards and we return to the D/D/W years. As disappointing as it was not to win a NC the last 11 years, that would be even worse. Swarbick has to be real judicious with this hire so we don’t return to that.

    1. Ugh, sorry, I typed D on my name and accidently erased the rest of my name.

      But it’s my comment, under “Damian”

      Hope it doesn’t get deleted after I typed all that.

    2. Damian, you are absolutely right about the assistants and pay. It was only a year ago that everyone was shocked that ND beat out LSU for Marcus Freeman because we’re notoriously cheap on non-HC salaries.
      ND does have some issues that need to be addressed, regardless of who the coach is. Obviously, ND has a special appeal and tradition. But there are also several drawbacks. The two most pressing ways that the admin can help our next coach is to update the gug and pony up for top assistants.
      I’m actually not in full panic mode. I think it’ll be fickell or Freeman. I think fickell is in a Brian Kelly mold. He’ll give us our 10-2, 11-1 seasons. But if we’re looking to catch lightening, I’d roll the dice on Freeman and have Swarbrick guide him on retaining some pieces, and bringing in others.

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment. Go Irish!

    3. “My biggest fear is ND goes backwards and we return to the D/D/W years.”

      Being afraid of failure is paralyzing.
      Failure isn’t terrible…not trying is.
      If ND isn’t going to “risk” trying to win championships anymore, there’s plenty out there who are.

      1. I agree. Just that I don’t have a lot of faith in the PTB’s at ND to do what it takes and provide the support needed to develop an elite program. I think they are perfectly happy where ND sits right now.

        The HC isn’t the only issue ND has with winning NC’s. It’s a big one, but there are others.

        And yes, I don’t want them to strike out and end up with a coach like Weis, all talk and a bunch of BS.

  12. “Catholic body who says his dream job
    is Notre Dame or OSU”…is that the first of the Garry Faust quotes?
    Thanks BK, for rebuilding our program from ashes, and especially for leaving the cupboards fully stocked!
    Luck of the Irish to our next Coach…look forward…rarely back.
    BGC 77 82

    1. Gerry Faust was a man of the highest moral character.
      He doesn’t deserve to have his name dragged into any discussion that includes a disingenuous, whoring scumbag like Brian Kelly. Asshole.

  13. I agree with all of it!!! Bk couldn’t hack it anymore. Let’s face it gents we have a good football program but it’s not the ND of yester year, when we were getting all the talent and we were ELITE! It’s hard to get those 5 stars but it is disappointing for Bk to go the way he did what a WEASEL, especially after we r having one of the best recruiting years ranked in the top 5! 88 was the last time ND won a consensus NC things have to change so we can be GREAT. It’s been too long I thought Bk would eventually get us there I was wrong he built a good program but we need someone who can make us NC elite! Gid bless the Golden Domers!

  14. Money grubbing, disloyal, ungrateful, lack of integrity – all describe BK/ Good Riddance!!

    Lack of Character, – Lets find a real leader, ie Freeman or Fickel are both major upgrades to this phony BK’s true calling is a used car lot! (My apologies to honest used car salesman)

    The Dean of Mediocrity – never win a NC, never win a major bowl, known for repeatedly not only losing the big game
    but getting embarrassed, blown out

    1. Yup. Every big game under the bright lights – Miami, Michigan, Clemson, OSU, Alabama – ND not only lost but was completely outcoached and outclassed like the proverbial deer in the headlights.

  15. “….By making this move now, Kelly should be a pariah in his profession, never thought of the same way again. He doesn’t care at all about those players, and whatever respect he had earned for his stewardship of the Notre Dame program over the last dozen years has been flushed down the toilet. He should forever be known as little more than a snake and a mercenary…..”
    —- USA Today

    So…no statue then?

  16. Love all these names being thrown out there by media people but a lot of them are totally unrealistic. For example Pete Carroll, Urban Meyer, Art Briles. Unbelievable.

    1. Bring in Fickell 48 on a 10 year contract Freeman 35 Assistant Coach on a 10 year contract Fickell retires at 58 Freeman becomes New Head coach at 45 for 15 years retires at 60 Nice Symmetry I think and Minimum Disruption for next 25 YEARS 🥂🥂🏈🏈👍👍Dale

  17. Bring in Fickell. He’ll keep Freeman and Mickens, his former assistants.
    Keeping Freeman can best happen with a Fickell hire. Pay them the money that ND has plenty of . . .
    Who stays and who leaves from the rest of the staff is immaterial. Elston will be missed.
    A Cincinnati loss to Houston this weekend will get the chance at hiring Fickell earlier.
    Otherwise, he might have the commitment to stick it out and finish, especially with a win over Houston and a trip to the CFP, unlike Kelly who bailed on his undefeated team at Cincy.
    Make Elston acting head coach for the rest of the season, be it CFP or NY6.
    Polian, Rees, and Quinn will be headed to LSU with him. Time for AD Jack’s Warbucks to move on?
    BK, THanks for making ND a very good team, after Davie, Willingham and Weis didn’t.
    You didn’t exactly have to maintain greatness following those three.
    Time to find someone to make them elite.

      1. Fickell has lifelong loyalty to ND?

        He’d be a great hire, but to everyone writing off Freeman because he has no head coaching experience:
        Riley, Day, Dabo…

      2. Catholic boy who has publicly said his dream coachng job is either ND or OSU.
        Seems okay to me.
        Didn’t wrote anyone offf…..what do you see when you try reading words?

      3. Ha! Weren’t those Urban Meyer’s exact words as well?! And why didn’t he go to ND? Precisely for the same reasons I’ve been saying all along! Obstacles that the admin haven’t and won’t address

  18. Does LSU have to pay ND any buyout money ??
    Like, even a few thousand dollars. Or a sack of used footballs.

    Could this day get any better !?!

  19. I am not in shock as a ND fan, about this. My gripe with Kelly started with how he was focused on another job prior to one of ND’s biggest games at the time , back in 2012/13 BCS game. He now does it again prior to another potentially big game(s). Look how he left Cincy when they were looking at a big game for them at the time. It’s who Kelly is. Ironically he may do rather well at LSU, he’ll, their last 3 coaches I believe won a NC during their time there. Kelly plateaued here at ND. Frankly, it’s time for some blood and I don’t fall in the trap thinking Kelly is not replaceable. He is. I know there is clamoring for Freeman but the guy has never HC’d before ( remember a DC named Davie hired as a never before D-1 HC and look how he did). We don’t need unproven HC’s such as Davie, Faust, or Weis being 1st time HC at ND. There are some folks out there who are proven HC’s to gauge interest. Fickell should head that list. It’s time for new blood. This can be opportunity, not a time to scream the sky is falling as I have seen other ND fans on other blogs bitch about regarding Kelly’s leaving. Kelly has had 12 seasons here. We kind have know what we had and it clearly didn’t involve winning a NC.


      1. What a great time to reach out to Paul Johnson. Pay him a lot of $$$$$ and bring back the triple option.

    1. I agree with nearly all of this, except for the Freeman comment. I get what you’re saying about experience, but the personalities are getting younger, and (I can be wrong here) but Freeman strikes me as a guy who defer to his OC and DC without micromanaging/overextending himself.
      But my question is, why has Kelly plateaued? He is a great coach. He did a hell of a job during this “rebuild” year, especially with all the injuries. So why the plateau?

  20. F Brian Kelly. I’m not defending the man for abandoning this team. But reading between the lines, I think this comes down to recruiting limitations at ND, and that’s concerning.
    – We all agree that 3 and 4 stars can be developed, but 5 stars hit at a much higher rate. If there are 30 5 stars any given year, how many can ND offer?
    – ND is gorgeous, but we need nicer facilities. The gug is nice, it was updated, but when it was brand spanking new it was 2nd tier.
    – Not every kid comes from money. Parents want to see there kids play, we absolutely have to work with boosters/alumn to make Southbend more practical. Rules have loosened, find a loophole, get airfair to parents. Think outside the box. Sponsorships are fair game now. Give kids transferable flight vouchers from r saying “thanks, bs travel agency”. Idk, but we’ve gotta get creative

    1. I disagree with the 5 ***** recruits. They are merely college football prospects as is “can’t miss” NFL draftees. Give me players with a sound mind, heart and determination whether they are 5, 2 or zero stars. Players need to be developed regardless.

    2. If ND is so limited in their recruiting potential, why has Freeman stepped in and have potentially top 5 classes rated for incoming ’22 and ’23? Maybe ND recruits came in despite Kelly because they wanted ND, and DC Freeman was the one who was able to attract these potentially top 5 incoming future classes. If ND loses many of those recruits coming in the next couple of years, it could be because BK isn’t there. But I’m betting with Freeman staying, the new recruits won’t miss not having Kelly around-at all

      1. Any kid coming to ND who would rethink the decision because Brian Kelly left should be tested for severe concussive damage.

      2. ND is limited in their recruiting potential. It’s a fact, but you’re absolutely right, Freeman has done a fantastic job. Kids love him, he’s relatable, parents probably see a solid mentor… He’s able to compensate for some of the irrefutable obstacles ND coaches face in selling ND.
        Which is a major reason why he shouldn’t be written off as HC simply because he doesn’t have previous HC experience.

  21. I guess he is a masochist. Getting his arsenal handed to him by Saban a couple times a decade wasn’t enough. Prefers it yearly.

    Oh well. ND is definitely a better place than it was when he got here. And he probably hit his ceiling here. Now let’s find the one that can take us to the promised land.

  22. I suppose all the anti-Kelly people are happy today. I am not one of them, I have supported this coach from the very beginning. But he is now officially Murphy dead to me. It’s a Murphy family expression that when you cross the line we have nothing to do with you. I just thought that they were still some people that believed in statues and legacy and history more than the almighty dollar. I was in the middle of a grocery store dairy section when my brother texted me this information. As I started to digest it I was overwhelmed with sadness. Yeah I realize there’s a lot more important things in the world, but when You’ve gone through a divorce and are dealing with all that fallout, trusting in Kelly and the Irish was the one thing that was getting me through. Maybe at the end of the day that’s a rather sad commentary isn’t it?. Go Irish!

  23. He would have “abandoned” ND after his third year had he gotten an offer.
    It took 9 more years, and the SEC arms race, to get rid of him.

    Thanks for everything….and by everything, I obviously mean nothin’.

    1. Well David I disagreed with you last week but I guess you’ve got us on this one. I wonder how many coaches this traitor is going to pull with him from Notre Dame to LSU. I call him a traitor because not even His own coaches knew. One coach was just leaving the recruits house when the news broke. That’s a backstab to that coach

    2. Not nothin’, pretty good recruiter, remember the bandwagon bus? Pretty good only because he could never evaluate potential QB’s EVERYONE of them sucked!

  24. Can’t say I’m shocked considering this is exactly how he left Cincy. I’m grateful for what he did for the program, but understandably angry at how he is leaving.

    Bottom line is that the winningest coach in team history doesn’t think he can win a Championship in South Bend. That’s painful.

    1. Andrew, I agree completely. Kelly has made public comments about getting over the hump in recruiting to compete with the bamas and clemsons of the world, he’s lobbied for higher coaches pay, improvements to the gug…
      These were issues when we missed out on Urban Meyer, they’d be issues if Saban was named HC tomorrow.
      I actually think that Swarbrick recognizes this. Hopefully Kelly leaving will make addressing these issues an easier sell with the admin

    2. Money talks, (all else) walks! Take Jack with you too, please.
      But seriously, we should not bring in someone new as HC. I think the Freeman hire was ‘part of the plan’ all along. We’re not getting a coach that brought his team to the CFP. If we did, Freeman walks too.

    1. I’ve been saying that Kelly was a low-character, self-interested, disingenuous POS since 2012.
      You were told.

      He now leaves like the cockroach he is…scurrying off in the dark. But he leaves!
      Stop feigning shock, and get over it.

      ND football now has the potential for greatness…for the first time in years.
      And it starts with a championship coaching hire !

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