After appearing to have whiffed on stealing Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley, LSU is pursuing longtime Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly to take its vacant position, sources tell CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd. Kelly has led the Fighting Irish since 2010 becoming the winningest coach in program history.
Kelly is 113-40 overall at Notre Dame with two College Football Playoff berths and an appearance in the 2013 BCS Championship Game. The Irish have a chance to advance to a third playoff this season, though Notre Dame has struggled in the postseason. It lost 30-3 to Clemson in 2018 and 31-14 to Alabama in 2020. Against Bama in 2013, ND lost 42-14 in one of the most crushing losses in BCS history.
The draw to LSU for Kelly is obvious. The last three Tigers coaches — Nick Saban, Les Miles, Ed Orgeron — have won national championships. Kelly would be able to take his recruiting to new heights and likely be compensated handsomely for it.
However, Notre Dame has found new life on the recruiting trail since Kelly hired Marcus Freeman from Cincinnati as defensive coordinator. The Fighting Irish have a projected top-five recruiting class in 2022 for the first time in a decade and are off to an even hotter start in 2023.
For Kelly, interest in LSU could simply be an opportunity to push Notre Dame administration to commit to facility upgrades, spend more money toward staff hires and/or extend his contract.
Asked last week whether he would have any interest in other jobs, Kelly gave a strong denial.
“I mean, look, I think Mike Tomlin had the best line, right?” Unless that fairy godmother comes by with that $250 million check, my wife would want to take a look at it first. I’d have to run it by her,” said Kelly.
LSU reached out to Kelly early in its process with Kelly turning down the Tigers, according to The Athletic, which first reported LSU targeting Kelly on Monday.
With Riley off the board and Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher again denying interest in LSU, athletic director Scott Woodward is moving on to his next big-name target. Woodward is known for taking swings. He is the coach that brought Chris Petersen to Washington and Fisher to Texas A&M. However, with Riley choosing USC over LSU, the options are whittling down.
LSU fired Orgeron after five years and a 51-20 record. He led the program to a perfect 15-0 season and national championship in 2019 but went 11-11 over his final two seasons. Check out Dodd’s 2.0 list of LSU coaching candidates as the Tigers’ search continues.