Notre Dame's Brian Kelly Hired by LSU; Contract Reportedly Worth More Than $100M

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVNovember 30, 2021

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly watches during warmups before an NCAA college football game against Navy in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Brian Kelly has been hired by LSU after a 12-year run at Notre Dame, the school announced.

Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports first reported the hire on Monday.

The Athletic's Matt Fortuna and Brody Miller reported LSU offered Kelly a 10-year deal that will be worth more than $100 million with incentives. Per Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports, Kelly's annual salary will be in the $15 million range.

Kelly informed Notre Dame players that he would be leaving the school in a message on Monday night, via Pete Sampson of The Athletic:

Pete Sampson @PeteSampson_

Just now Brian Kelly messaged Notre Dame’s roster in Team Works that “I will be leaving Notre Dame.”<br><br>The plan is for Kelly to meet with the team tomorrow at 7 a.m. <br><br>Here is the full message <a href="https://t.co/sqAl2txZIy">pic.twitter.com/sqAl2txZIy</a>

Kelly has been viewed as one of the top coaches in college football for the better part of two decades. After gradually improving Central Michigan during his first three years as a head coach, he truly made a name for himself during his time at Cincinnati.

Kelly led the Bearcats to double-digit wins in each of his three full seasons as head coach, going 34-6 at the school. He led the school to a 12-0 regular season in 2009 prior to taking the Notre Dame job.

During his time in South Bend, Kelly helped the Fighting Irish return to prominence. If this is indeed the end of his tenure there, he leaves as the school's winningest coach ever, having piled up 113 victories during his 12 seasons.

Under Kelly, Notre Dame reached the BCS National Championship Game for the 2012 season and also reached the College Football Playoff (2018, 2020) twice.

The Fighting Irish (11-1) are currently sixth in the CFP rankings.

After five consecutive seasons with double-digit wins at Notre Dame, Kelly would be taking over an LSU program that needs rebuilding.

LSU athletic director Scott Woodward announced in October former head coach Ed Orgeron would not return after the 2021 season, his sixth year with the program. The Tigers finished the regular season with a 6-6 record.

The team also struggled to a 5-5 record during the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season.

While the past two years fell short of expectations, Orgeron did lead the Tigers to a 2019 national championship behind Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow. The 15-0 squad had one of the top offenses in history, averaging an NCAA-best 48.4 points per game that season.

The title led to a six-year, $42 million extension for the coach, although it took just two years for him to be replaced.

It shows the enormous pressure on the next coach to deliver considering the success of his predecessors.

LSU has won national titles under each of the last three coaches with Orgeron (2019), Les Miles (2007) and Nick Saban (2003) all finding glory. It's clear anything less will be considered a disappointment for the new staff.

The Kelly hire could be enough to help the Tigers return to contention in the SEC West and nationally.

If the move becomes official, Kelly—who owns a 166-62 career record—would be just the latest big-name coach to take on a new job. On Sunday, Lincoln Riley left Oklahoma to take over at USC.