Suppose you are looking to compete with Alabama. In that case, the short answer is no! Kelly has spent his coaching life in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana, and to say he will be a fish out of water in Louisiana is an understatement. Kelly did an excellent job of bringing the Irish back into National Title contention, but every time he got to the playoffs or a New Year’s Six bowl game, he got beaten badly. The timing is also odd because he just hired Marcus Freeman as his defensive coordinator at Notre Dame, and Kelly was recruiting at the highest level he has recruited at with the Irish. Freeman is a great recruiter and defensive coordinator and was putting Notre Dame’s recruiting closer to being able to hang with Alabama’s of the world. LSU is not a patient program, remember the guy they just fired won the National Title in 2019, so I am guessing no honeymoon period will exist at LSU for Kelly.
This is an easy one; Marcus Freeman should be immediately announced as the new Head Coach. Freeman had a large hand in the Cincinnati Bearcats, being ranked in the top 4 as he is an elite recruiter. On top of that, Freeman is young, energetic, and a great defensive coordinator. This hire may not make the splash of getting a Luke Fickell, but it would be best for the continuity of a program that, with Freeman recruiting, would play quick dividends nationally.
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Brian Kelly is a good football coach, but I don’t think he is a man you want to trust your son with for his college years. The way he left Cincinnati for Notre Dame was truly disgusting, and the way he snuck out of Cincinnati should have been a warning to Irish administrators and fans about how Kelly’s tenure would turn out. The Notre Dame I grew up with would not pick a man of such low moral character. Notre Dame became just another program in the early 80s when they fired Dan Devine, an upstanding man who developed leaders. The Irish in 1977 won a National Title, in 1979 won the Cotton Bowl, and then in 1980 played in the Sugar Bowl against Georgia for the National Title and lost. Devine retired in 1980. His final record at Notre Dame was 53-16-1 (.764 win percentage), and he was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame just five years later. Then we had Gerry Faust, and even though that didn’t work out, Faust was a Notre Dame man who did things the right way. That led us to Lou Holtz, a good coach, but Notre Dame has not been the same since. If Notre Dame were still an elite program, they would not be losing their head coach to LSU.
Notre Dame had to forfeit wins from the 2012 National finalist season as punishment for misconduct in Kelly’s program. The crux of the misconduct stems from a former student athletic trainer who completed coursework for two student-athletes; additionally, the former trainer provided “six other football student-athletes with impermissible academic extra benefits.” Some of the athletes took part in misconduct on their own as well.
The worst of Kelly’s misdeeds has to have come. In October of 2010, Declan Sullivan, a 20-year-old Notre Dame student, was killed while filming the team’s practice when the hydraulic scissor lift he was on crashed due to high wind gusts exceeding 50 mph. Kelly said in the following days that he decided to hold practice outdoors despite the weather conditions. Notre Dame later released the findings of an internal investigation of the tragedy, taking some responsibility for what happened. As far as Kelly’s level of commitment, the university determined that the “Culture of the football program” and “decision makers’ lack of knowledge regarding lift capabilities” were not contributing factors to Sullivan’s death. So Notre Dame is saying that Kelly is not at fault because he is stupid? You would have to be stupid not to know that a scissor lift in high winds is dangerous.
Then there’s the Lizzy Seeberg story published by National Catholic Reporter. According to the report, Seeberg, a student at St. Mary’s College, was allegedly sexually assaulted by Notre Dame football player Prince Shembo in 2010. She committed suicide ten days later, and Notre Dame’s initial M.O. was to stay silent on the matter.
In the big picture, the Seeberg case was far more about Notre Dame’s failures than Kelly individually. However, the coach caught heat — deservedly so — because Shembo reportedly “stayed silent about the accusations under orders” from Kelly. Shembo maintained his innocence in the lead-up to the 2014 NFL Draft.
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Kelly is a brilliant coach, and he will win at LSU. Can he win it all? That is the question? My answer would be no; he will also have multiple scandals covered up at LSU until the school gets tired of not making the Playoffs and eventually fires him in 4-5 years. On the other hand, if they select a Freeman, Fickell, or Campbell, Notre Dame will win a National Championship at some point in the next five years. If you are a Notre Dame fan, this is an excellent day for you.
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