Brian Kelly's Decision to Leave Notre Dame for LSU Wasn't Surprising, AD Says

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVNovember 30, 2021

SOUTH BEND, IN - NOVEMBER 20: Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish is seen during the game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Notre Dame Stadium on November 20, 2021 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said Tuesday that Brian Kelly's decision to leave ND and become the new head football coach at LSU didn't catch him off guard.

According to Brett McMurphy of The Action Network, Swarbrick said: "I was not surprised. There had been enough in weeks leading up, gave me the sense that there were other things attracting Brian. I was not surprised."

Per ESPN's Adam Rittenberg, LSU confirmed Tuesday morning that it had agreed to a 10-year, $95 million contract with Kelly to make him its new head coach after he spent the previous 12 seasons with the Fighting Irish.

After his hiring at LSU became official, Kelly released the following statement regarding his move to the Tigers and the SEC:

"I could not be more excited to join a program with the commitment to excellence, rich traditions and unrivaled pride and passion of LSU Football. I am fully committed to recruiting, developing and graduating elite student-athletes, winning championships, and working together with our administration to make Louisiana proud. Our potential is unlimited, and I cannot wait to call Baton Rouge home."

Kelly is replacing national championship-winning head coach Ed Orgeron at LSU after Orgeron announced earlier in the season that he was parting ways with LSU at the conclusion of the campaign.

While Kelly never won a national title at Notre Dame, he helped the Irish achieve their greatest success since the late 1980s and early '90s under Lou Holtz.

Overall, Kelly went 113-40 at Notre Dame, making him the winningest head coach in school history ahead of Knute Rockne (105) and Holtz (100).

Notre Dame won double-digit games in each of the past five seasons, marking the first time in school history it accomplished that feat.

The Irish fell to Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game in 2012 and reached the College Football Playoff in both 2018 and 2020, losing in the semifinals each time.

This season, Notre Dame is 11-1 with its only loss coming to undefeated Cincinnati, which is ranked fourth in the CFP rankings ahead of Tuesday's end-of-regular-season rankings release.

Notre Dame, which is ranked sixth, has a chance to move up to fifth since No. 2 Ohio State lost to No. 5 Michigan on Saturday.

It isn't outside the realm of possibility that Notre Dame could still make the College Football Playoff if one or more of Alabama, Michigan and Cincinnati lose their conference title games, and if that happens, it may be defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman leading the way as interim head coach, although Notre Dame has yet to make an announcement on that front.