Da Boot Sports
LSU Sports Information
By: Michael Bonnette
BATON ROUGE – Matt House, a coach with a Super Bowl Championship on his resume, has been named LSU’s defensive coordinator, head coach Brian Kelly announced.
House, currently the linebacker coach for the Kansas City Chiefs, will commence his duties with LSU, including recruiting, once the NFL season is complete.
“Matt checks every box we’re looking for in a defensive coordinator,” Kelly said. “He’s led elite SEC defenses, recruited and developed all-conference and All-American performers at multiple positions, and garnered ample experience in both the NFL and as a coordinator at multiple collegiate stops.
”He possesses a great understanding on how to defend the type of offenses we will face each week in our conference, and his ability to put players in position to make plays aligns perfectly with the identity that we want to develop with our defense. I’m excited that he’s joining our staff as we work toward building a championship program at LSU."
House, now in his third season as the linebacker coach for the Chiefs, spent three seasons with Kentucky, two as defensive coordinator, from 2016-18. He’s also had defensive coordinator duties at Pittsburgh (2013-2014) and Florida International (2015).
“It is an honor to join Coach Kelly’s staff at LSU," said House. “I firmly believe in Coach Kelly’s vision and look forward to getting to work. I am confident there are many exciting times ahead for the Tiger football family. Our staff will work tirelessly to develop our young men both on and off the field as we set a championship standard – We will develop genuine relationships with our players, our staff, and the wonderful people in the state of Louisiana!
“Additionally, I would like to thank the Kansas City Chiefs organization. Specifically Chiefs Chairman and CEO, Mr. Hunt, Coach Reid and Coach Spagnuolo for all of their support along with the memorable past few years we have enjoyed together. The Chiefs organization exemplifies class in every way. Coach Reid is a Hall of Famer for many reasons, and I cannot thank him enough for an incredible experience. I leave behind so many special people in Kansas City that will be lifelong friends. It is not over just yet though and we will finish this season strong with the Chiefs. My wife, Jessi, our family and I look forward to joining the LSU family soon, and we are thankful for this opportunity – Geaux Tigers!”
As a member of the Chiefs coaching staff, House helped the organization to back-to-back Super Bowl appearances during the 2019 and 2020 season. The Chiefs have won 37 regular season games since House joined the coaching staff.
This year, the Chiefs have clinched the AFC West with an 11-4 overall record and they are led by a defense that ranks among the top five in the NFL in points allowed per game (20.4) and takeaways (28).
In his first season with the Chiefs in 2019, House was part of a Kansas City team that posted a 12-4 mark during the regular season and then swept through the postseason, capped by a 31-20 win over the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV.
In 2020, the Chiefs won 14 games during the regular season and reached the Super Bowl for the second consecutive year.
At Kentucky, House’s defense anchored a Wildcat team that reached three consecutive bowl games, a first for the school in nearly a decade. The Wildcats capped the school’s first 10-win season in 2018 ranked No. 12 in the nation following a 27-24 victory over Penn State in the Citrus Bowl.
House’s 2018 Kentucky defense ranked No. 6 in the nation in points allowed per game as the Wildcats held opponents to 14 points or less six times. In his first year with the Wildcats, House served as the special teams coordinator/inside linebackers coach.
House spent one season as the defensive coordinator at Florida International (2015) in which his defense limited four opponents to less than 14 points and finished the season ranked 16th nationally in red zone defense. House's defense boasted five players who earned all-conference honors and four would go on to sign NFL contracts.
Before his time in Lexington and Miami, House spent time as a defensive coordinator at Pittsburgh (2012-14) where he coached first round NFL Draft pick Aaron Donald. Donald has since become one of the most dominant defenders in the NFL, twice being named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year. Pitt won two bowl games during House’s three years with the Panthers.
Prior to returning to the college game, House spent four years in the NFL, serving as defensive quality control/assistant linebacker coach for the St. Louis Rams (2009-11) and special teams/strength and conditioning assistant for the Carolina Panthers (2008).
In his one season in Carolina, the Panthers went 12-4 and claimed the NFC South title.
House's final stop of his first collegiate stint was at the University of Buffalo (2006-07), where he was the defensive backs coach and recruiting coordinator for the Bulls. Buffalo captured the MAC East title in 2007 and in 2008, the Bulls played in a bowl game for the first time in school history.
House also coached on the defensive side of the ball at North Carolina (2003-04) and Gardner-Webb (2005).
House began his coaching career at Michigan State University (2001-02) as a graduate assistant, helping the Spartans to the 2001 Silicon Valley Classic working with the secondary and special teams units.
House and his wife Jessi have four children – Avery, Jackson, Jacob and Trent. The Harrison, Michigan native is a 2000 graduate of Michigan State.
Da Boot Sports
By: David Penn
BATON ROUGE, LA: The LSU Fighting Tigers (6-6) will take on the Kansas State Wildcats (7-5) on January 4th at NRG Stadium in Houston, TX. The Bayou Bengals and Wildcats will enter the game with uncertainty under center as both programs have been dealt with issues at quarterback. For LSU, starter Max Johnson entered that transfer portal at the conclusion of the season and will suit up for Texas A&M in 2022. It’s still unclear who will start for LSU or if they plan on using multiple quarterbacks in the contest. The Wildcats lost starting quarterback Skylar Thompson to an ankle injury against Baylor causing him to miss their season finale against the Texas Longhorns. Kansas State coach Chris Klieman is hopeful that Thompson, who still is unable to practice, will be able to play against LSU. If not, no decision has been made on his replacement.
The Tigers will be coached by defensive line coach Brad Davis on an interim basis for the game, while new LSU coach Brian Kelly continues to focus on filling out his staff and recruiting. Kansas St will be coached by Chris Klieman who has compiled a 19-15 record in three years at the helm in Manhattan. Both teams will be looking to end the season on a high note to build momentum on the recruiting trail as the Tigers and Wildcats have a lot of work to do finishing out their 2022 signing classes.
LSU will be led on defense by senior linebacker Demone Clark who leads the team with 136 tackles, including 5.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and an interception. The Tigers were informed yesterday by defensive tackle Neil Farrell that he will opt out of the bowl game to begin his preparations for the NFL draft. The Wildcats leader on defense is sophomore defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah who posted 11 sacks and 6 forced fumbles and was named co-defensive lineman of the year for the Big-12. The LSU defense for the season has allowed an average of 25.3 PPG while the Wildcats have given up an average of 21.1 PPG. The Wildcats however, ranked 128th in allowed opponent completion percentage.
On offense, both teams will likely center their attacks around the running game. LSU will lean on junior running back Tyrion Davis-Price, who had 211 carries for 1,003 yards, 6 TDs, and an average of 4.8 YPC. Kansas State will look to sophomore running back Deuce Vaughn who led the team with 214 carries, 1,258 yards, 15 TDs, and an average of 5.9 YPC. The Wildcats have taken a huge hit to their running back depth last week as their 2nd and 3rd string backs have both entered the NCAA transfer portal. It’s anyone’s guess who will backup Vaughn in the bowl game. The Tigers offense averaged 27.1 PPG this season while the Wildcats averaged 26.3. Without either team playing with the QB that started for them during the season, you can expect a game that will be focused on winning the battle at the line of scrimmage and controlling the clock. Currently the odds favor LSU at -2.5 with the over/under being 47.5 points.
Da Boot Sports
By: David Penn
BATON ROUGE, LA: When Scott Woodward lured Brian Kelly away from the golden domes of South Bend, Kelly said his priority was to reaffirm the commitment of the players that had already chosen LSU. Mission accomplished. At the beginning of early signing day, LSU’s recruiting class was ranked as low as 33 depending on the publication you were following. Today, after signing the top two prospects in the state and adding a couple of players from out of state, LSU’s recruiting class has now broken the top 20.
Kelly knew the biggest priorities were Walker Howard and Will Campbell, but Kelly also showed that he can walk into living rooms, sit with families, and be the recruiter he needs to be when it counts. Amid a coaching change when other high-profile players are decommitting or committing elsewhere, Kelly was able to keep the damage to a minimum. Shaz Preston is the highest-rated player that left the state for the sidelines of Bryant-Denny beneath the tutelage of Saban and company, but that happens every year, doesn’t it? Saban has always snagged a recruit or two from the fertile fields of Louisiana talent.
In all, 10 of the 13 players that signed their letter of intent to play football in purple and gold are from the state of Louisiana, including flipping Landon Ibieta from Miami to LSU. Although Jacoby Mathews decommitted, Mathews does not intend to sign until February, giving the fresh staff the opportunity to become acquainted with each other. If Kelly can gain Mathews’ commitment, that means Kelly will have signed the top three recruits from the state.
LSU fans should be optimistic here. In a noticeably brief period, Brian Kelly managed to affirm the commitments of every
player that had already pledged a commitment and has set LSU up to finish with a top 10 recruiting class. LSU has cracked the top 20 in recruiting rankings and only has 13 signed players, most other programs have full classes, LSU still has 10 spots to fill. Brian Kelly will now turn to the rest of the country, a country he is aptly familiar with considering his former coaching assignment and shore up his first recruiting class in the Red Stick. As anyone familiar with the ever-changing landscape of coaching and recruiting will tell you, the first class is always the hardest, for Brian Kelly the hardest part is over, Brian Kelly convinced Louisiana talent to play for him and he did it in two weeks!
Da Boot Sports
By: Terrill J. Weil
BATON ROUGE, LA: Myles Brennan has announced Thursday morning that he is removing his name from the NCAA Transfer Portal and will return to LSU for his final season of college football.
This is huge news for the Tigers as it now gives not only another scholarship quarterback back on the roster, but one with game experience.
Going into the 2022 season, LSU will have Myles Brennan, Garrett Nussmeier, and Walker Howard battling it out for the starting quarterback job.
LSU has not yet mentioned Brennan's playing status for the upcoming Texas Bowl on January 4th in Houston.
Max Johnson & Deion Smith Enter NCAA Transfer Portal... Four Star TE Jake Johnson Announces He is Decommitting From LSU
Da Boot Sports
By: Terrill J. Weil
BATON ROUGE, LA: LSU starting quarterback Max Johnson has announced on Tuesday afternoon that he is entering the NCAA transfer portal.
"LSU, Thank you for allowing me to pursue my academic and athletic career here. I have made strong relationships that will last a lifetime with coaches, staff and especially my teammates! With careful and prayerful consideration, I am entering the transfer portal."
Freshman receiver Deion Smith is reported to be entering the transfer portal also. Smith's season was cut short due to injury. He played in six games finishing with 186 yards on 11 catches with two touchdown grabs.
Jake Johnson who is the younger brother of Max, a four star recruit and the #1 tight end in 2022 class, has announced he is decommitting from the Tigers.
"With much prayer and thoughtful consideration, I am de-committing from LSU. I am opening up my recruitment! I plan on early enrollment."
Johnson's departure leaves Garrett Nussmeier now in a position that has him loosing his redshirt if he plays in the Texas Bowl. The only other quarterbacks left on the roster besides Nussmeier is Matt O'Dowd and Tavion Faulk.
Da Boot Sports
LSU Sports Information
By: Michael Bonnette
BATON ROUGE – LSU will add its 10th player to the College Football Hall of Fame Tuesday as Glenn Dorsey – the most decorated defensive player in school history – will officially be enshrined during the 63rd annual National Football Foundation Awards Dinner in Las Vegas.
This year’s NFF Awards Dinner will honor both the 2020 and 2021 Hall of Fame classes. Last year’s event was postponed due to Covid-19.
Dorsey, a native of Gonzales, Louisiana, and other members of the 2020 College Football Hall of Fame Class will take part in a press conference that will streamed at 11 a.m. CT Tuesday on ESPN3. The NFF Awards Dinner starts at 9 p.m. CT tomorrow and can be seen on ESPN3.
A two-time First Team All-American, Dorsey earned unanimous honors in 2007 after leading LSU to a win over Ohio State in the BCS National Championship Game. During his stellar senior campaign, he won the Outland, Nagurski, Lombardi and Lott IMPACT trophies, becoming the first player in Tigers history to receive any of those awards.
A team captain in 2007, Dorsey guided LSU to the conference title while earning SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors and being named a finalist for the Bednarik Award. The two-time First Team All-SEC selection was the leader of one of the most successful four-year periods in LSU history, helping the Tigers to a 43-9 overall record during his career.
A five-time SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week, Dorsey also guided LSU to the 2005 SEC West Division title and three other bowl games, including back-to-back wins in the 2005 Peach Bowl and 2007 Sugar Bowl. The anchor of a defense that rated No. 3 nationally in yards allowed in both his junior and senior seasons, he led the Tigers to top 10 final rankings in 2005 (No. 5), 2006 (No. 3) and 2007 (No. 1).
Dorsey accumulated 179 total tackles, including 27 for loss and 13 sacks, while playing in 52 games for LSU, including 27 straight starts to end his career in Baton Rouge. He was honored as a member of the SEC Football Legends Class in 2017.
Dorsey, who opted to return to LSU for his senior season despite being projected as a first-round NFL Draft pick as a junior, became the fifth overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. He played five seasons with the Chiefs (2008-12) and four with the San Francisco 49ers (2013-16).
Off the field, he established the Glenn Dorsey Foundation, which focuses on teaching youth the importance of education. A motivational speaker, his community activities include donating food and water to flood victims in 2016, furnishing homes for the underprivileged and donating time and money to host Easter egg hunts in Louisiana.
Dorsey becomes the 10th Tiger player in the College Football Hall of Fame, joining Charles Alexander (1975-78), Billy Cannon (1957-59), Tommy Casanova (1969-71), Doc Fenton (1905-09), Bert Jones (1970-72), Ken Kavanaugh (1937-39), Abe Mickal (1933-35), Jerry Stovall (1960-62) and Gaynell Tinsley (1934-36).
Five former LSU coaches are also in the Hall: Dana X. Bible (1916), Michael Donahue (1923-27), Biff Jones (1932-34), Charlie McClendon (1962-79) and Bernie Moore (1935-47).
The 2020 College Football Hall of Fame Class includes Lomas Brown (Florida), Keith Byars (Ohio State), Eric Crouch (Nebraska), Eric Dickerson (SMU), Glenn Dorsey (LSU), John Elliott (Michigan), Jason Hanson (Washington State), E.J. Henderson (Maryland), E.J. Junior (Alabama), Steve McNair (Alcorn State), Cade McNown (UCLA), Leslie O’Neal (Oklahoma State), Anthony Poindexter (Virginia), David Pollack (Georgia), Bob Stein (Minnesota), Michael Westbrook (Colorado), Elmo Wright (Houston) and coaches Dick Sheridan (Furman, North Carolina State), and Andy Talley (St. Lawrence [NY], Villanova).
The accomplishments of the 2020 class will be forever immortalized at the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, and each inductee will receive a custom ring created by Jostens, the official and exclusive supplier of NFF rings.
Including the 2020 and 2021 Hall of Fame Classes, only 1,038 players and 223 coaches have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame from the nearly 5.47 million who have played or coached the game during the past 152 years. In other words, less than two one-hundredths of a percent (.02%) of the individuals who have played the game have earned this distinction.
Da Boot Sports
LSU Sports Information
By: Michael Bonnette
BATON ROUGE – LSU will play in a bowl game for the 21st time in 22 years as the Tigers have been selected to face Kansas State in the TaxAct Texas Bowl, the Southeastern Conference announced on Sunday.
The TaxAct Texas Bowl – played at the home of the NFL’s Houston Texans in NRG Stadium - will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 4. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. CT and the game will be televised on ESPN.
LSU enters the contest riding a two-game winning streak and with a 6-6 overall record. The Tigers became bowl-eligible with a 27-24 win over Texas A&M in the season finale.
“Our football team fought hard down the stretch of the regular season to qualify for bowl competition, and we are proud they will be able to extend their season at the Texas Bowl,” LSU Director of Athletics Scott Woodward said. “We know our fans will be excited to see the Tigers back in NRG Stadium, and our players will be eager to take the field for a primetime matchup on national television.”
LSU will appear in the Texas Bowl for the second time as the Tigers beat Texas Tech, 56-27, in its other appearance in 2015. Overall, LSU has played in 52 bowl games, which includes a pair of games in the College Football Playoffs in 2019, and has an overall mark of 28-23-1 in postseason games.
The Kansas State matchup will be just the second meeting between the teams with LSU leading the series 1-0. LSU beat the Wildcats, 21-0, in the second game of the 1980 season in Tiger Stadium. Kansas State, a member of the Big 12, is 7-5 overall.
Da Boot Sports
By: Terrill J. Weil
BATON ROUGE, LA: Brian Kelly was formally introduced as the new head football coach at LSU on Wednesday afternoon in the Lawton Room in Tiger Stadium.
"His plan to take this program to the next level is the same as ours," Scott Woodward said. "He's not here to taste success. He's here to sustain his vision for what LSU football can become is the same as ours. He's not here to simply fit into our culture. He's here to transform it. And most importantly, his expectations for LSU football are the same as ours. He's not just here to win. He's here to win championships."
Brian Kelly has won everywhere he's been in his coaching career. He won two national titles at Division II Grand Valley State before moving on to coach Central Michigan. Three seasons later, he was hired by Cincinnati. Kelly won 33 games in his three seasons with the Bearcats before becoming the head coach at Notre Dame. In 12 seasons in South Bend he has become the winningest coach in school history, with a 113-40 record, including two CFP berths and an appearance in the 2013
BCS Championship Game.
**Below is a copy of the Press Conference Transcript
BRIAN KELLY: Good afternoon, everyone. First and foremost, I too want to thank President Tate for those kind remarks and a walk through the history book there.
I will say this, that when we talk about making decisions, it's really about people and getting a chance to meet President Tate, certainly Scott and the athletic administration. This is so much about alignment.
For me, alignment relative to this university, the goals, what is in store for LSU athletics as a university. That is what the draw is for me. To meet obviously President Tate and to spend the time that I did with Scott, that cohesion, that collaboration, that kind of communication, that's what for me led me here to Baton Rouge.
I also want to thank chairman Rémy Starns and the LSU Board of Supervisors. I got a chance to meet them last night.
The support that you can see from them is incredible. They are too part of that groundswell of support that we'll have here at LSU. Matt Borman and the Tiger Athletic Foundation, incredible.
I can't say enough about my 12 years at Notre Dame, the incredible people that I worked with and certainly the incredible players that I had the honor to coach there. But that alignment also has to be with my family, because this has been a family journey for me along the way, and my wife Paqui, Gracie, Patrick, Kenzel, thank you for being along the ride for me, and I wouldn't be here without you guys, too, so thank you.
On both sides of the aisle, LSU, that alignment, my family's alignment, and certainly the opportunity to be here amongst the finest players, staff, coaches, being part of the SEC, an incredible challenge and opportunity in my life that I was excited to take on once I was able to get an opportunity to meet Scott, spend time with Scott, hear his vision for the university and see how it connected so much with mine.
I think it just comes down to for me an alignment about excellence. That's what I'm about. Excellence in academics, excellence in academics and athletics here at LSU and seeing that, feeling that, and now knowing that we can go off together and fulfill that goal.
An exciting day for me, an incredible opportunity for everybody associated with LSU, the LSU family. We will have
high standards here, and we will fulfill those standards.
With that, I'll certainly be able to answer more of your questions, but I know we have some other things that we need to do, more picture taking I'm sure, but it's just an honor and an exciting privilege for me to be here. Thank you.
Q. You've mentioned over the last couple days that also maybe due to alignment you were also ready for a new opportunity. What was it about this point in your life and your career that you were ready to take that next step, and what was about LSU that really drew you to this place for that new opportunity?
BRIAN KELLY: I think there was no plan in place as I entered the 2021 season that I was looking for another opportunity. I had a great football team that we were developing, but when you get an opportunity to talk to Scott Woodward, and he presents a clear vision of the plan here and the opportunity, it was an exciting vision for me to look at.
As I got a chance to speak to more people about this opportunity, I just felt it was something that I had to take on.
When I talked to the boss (Brian’s wife, Paqui Kelly) who's sitting in the front row there, and she was part of that decision making process, there was no turning back.
Q. A lot of people are going to wonder why, right? You could have been very comfortable in South Bend. You have a team that has a chance to -- had a team that had a chance to make the playoffs. I think that was the big question. What drew you so passionately to walk away from that opportunity to come here?
BRIAN KELLY: It’s never easy, right? These decisions are -- it's my choice. I own it. It's a hundred percent my decision.
Those young men I love dearly, and it made for a difficult decision. But when I was able to look at it and the opportunity here was one as I got a chance to really, as I mentioned earlier, talk to Scott about the resources and the opportunity here to really make a significant change.
I believe that I can make a significant difference here. You want to be able to make a difference. I along with the support of our president, President Tate, the administration, collaboratively can make a big difference.
Q. As far as the departure, how do you feel that impacts your legacy back at Notre Dame, and then which assistants, if any, are you interested in bringing with you?
BRIAN KELLY: Leaving is never easy. It could never be done in a fashion that you could say that, hey, it's always the right way to do it. It was just brought up. This team at Notre Dame is an outstanding football team, and they deserve to be in the playoffs, and you're not going to be coaching them. So it's never easy when you leave.
We did our best. I wanted to get in front of them. I was fortunate that I had that opportunity to get in front of them and tell them that I was coming to LSU face-to-face because that's everything that we've done in my life, and I'll do the same thing here at LSU. We will look you in the eye and we will tell you what we're doing. We will be transparent.
Legacies are not part of what I spend time thinking about. People will evaluate me based upon my life's work and how I've treated people and make their own decisions.
As far as coaches, the coaches that are on staff there at Notre Dame are still employed there. Are there coaches there that I would like to join me here? Certainly. But that's a process that we'll have to work through. There are teams to coach on both sides. This team is going to be preparing for a bowl game. Hopefully Notre Dame gets a chance to play in the playoffs. They have to be prepared.
This has to be done with great communication and understanding that the players are part of this, as well.
Q. I'm sure you're aware of all the expectations here and the scrutiny. What's your plan to hit the ground running and to get to work and really start working on your goals?
BRIAN KELLY: There’s not enough hours in the day right now. If you can give me a couple more hours, we'd be fine with that.
You know, I really think it's that we know the things that need to be done here, but we'll be measured, we'll be thoughtful. We'll be intentional in checking each one of those off as we go. Investment in people is important and making sure that we are doing that the right way. Lives are involved here as we make transitions, so we want to take care of that.
We certainly want to take care of the recruiting and make sure that all the young men that have made their commitments here, that they know where they stand. There are important matters that we need to get to, and I think everybody understands that we've been on a whirlwind here the past 24 hours, but we've got to get to work, and we will do that in short order and get to the very important matters.
Q. There's been some talk that Corey Raymond and Kevin Faulk will be on your staff. Can you share if that's true, and can you share anything about who will be on your staff at this point?
BRIAN KELLY: I have not made any decisions based upon who will stay and who may go. I haven't had any individual conversations with any of them, so any narrative out there is not coming from any conversations that I've had with them. They are well-respected and I will get an opportunity to vet out all of those coaches. They've done a great job.
I know the business, they know the business. There are realities in this business. But we'll get to all of those coaches because as I mentioned earlier, they have families, they have lives, and we have to get moving in that direction.
Q. Obviously you are entering kind of a new world down in the South, down in the SEC. Do you see that as a challenge, and what are the keys to adapting to that?
BRIAN KELLY: I came down here because I wanted to be with the best. The resources here are outstanding. It starts with the alignment, excellence, the standard of expectation. Listen, you're looked at in terms of championships here. I want that. I want to be under the bright lights. I want to be on the Broadway stage. That's what my passion is.
Yeah, that's part of the draw; there's no doubt about that. I'm going to learn about Louisiana. My first day on Notre Dame's campus is when I took the job. This is my first day in Louisiana. I didn't know what this (making L-shape with thumb and forefinger) meant until today. I know what it means today. I'm going to learn a lot more as we go.
But our family, we're going to immerse ourselves into the culture of Louisiana. We're not here to change anything. We're here to get changed by it. That's going to be fun. That's exciting.
We're going to have a standard within our program that will be one that we build every single day. For us it will be an experience that we're looking forward to.
Q. Much has been made of other coaches not wanting to come to the SEC; can you talk about why you wanted to come to the SEC and specifically this division? And secondly, if you could potentially maybe pull the curtain back a little bit on the process and shed some light on did this come together quickly for you or was this a long process when dealing with LSU to accept this position?
BRIAN KELLY: The SEC, we know about its prowess in terms of success and the players and the teams and the coaches. But I will say this: If LSU did not have the alignment and the leadership and the people and the desire for excellence, the SEC doesn't really matter to me. It's this university that happens to be in the SEC that matters to me the most.
When you get this university, LSU, with the leadership that it has and the cohesiveness of leadership across the board, and it's in the SEC, ding, ding, ding. Right?
So for me, you add that, it made it an incredible opportunity for me.
Your second question was --
Q. The genesis of your decision to come here. Was it quick? Was it a drawn-out process?
BRIAN KELLY: No, it wasn't my search, so I really didn't have any say on how that all went. I can tell you this: When you talk to Scott Woodward, he has a clear way of communicating. It was 45 minutes, and I had an understanding of where LSU was from a commitment and how this was going to look.
I'd say that's pretty quick.
Q. You sort of implied this, but you believe you have a better chance to win National Championships here than at any of your previous stops?
BRIAN KELLY: I wouldn't imply that. I would only say that this opportunity for me was one that I was ready for and excited to take on. It had to do with everything that I've talked about.
I think each opportunity you measure differently. This opportunity is clearly different than any other opportunity I've had. But I would not imply that this one weighed better than maybe the others. It just was for me at the time, this opportunity with talking to Scott and getting a great feel for the alignment to excellence is what I want, both in academics and athletics, this was the right one for me. That's really the most important piece for me.
Q. I know you've had a tremendous amount of success, but did the recent defeats in the CFP playoffs tell you maybe that you had to move? And two, the SEC has won a preponderance of championships. Why do you think that is, other than the fact that they have great players? What do you think it is you have to bring to this school?
BRIAN KELLY: Losing spurs me towards building, so no, that never knocked my confidence that we couldn't continue to build towards winning a National Championship.
If you remember maybe my comments after we lost to Alabama as, we're back. We're going to come back. Even though we lost 10 players to the draft, we were back again. Losing is not something that I look at as, well, I'm going to throw the towel in. Losing just forces me to roll my sleeves up and look at reasons why we need to get better.
The SEC has obviously an ability to continuously turn out great football teams based upon a commitment from the university, great recruiting, great coaches to play at the highest level, and they've consistently done that and they've earned it by what they've done on the field.
Everything that they've gotten they've deserved. As I said, if LSU was in another conference, I would be interested in LSU in another conference, too, because of the leadership, the commitment and the alignment that I've talked about so much.
Q. Will you be looking to target any of the Notre Dame commits that are currently committed to that program for here? Also, a larger question about your approach to recruiting in the SEC in general now.
BRIAN KELLY: The most important thing in recruiting is to take care of your base first. My focus will be on those that have made a decision to come to LSU. So we'll be reaching out to those young men first and foremost. That's the most important thing.
You can be assured that our focus and direction relative to recruiting will be on the young men that have already decided to come to LSU. That will be our direction.
The second question? Or did that cover both?
Q. Will you be looking to target some of the Notre Dame commits who are currently committed to that program and looking to bring them here?
BRIAN KELLY: No, I think what my comments would be relative to recruiting is first and foremost let's take care of our base. Let's recruit those young men that have already pledged themselves to Louisiana State University.
Q. Speaking to players in recent weeks, and we asked them what they expect out of a new head coach, the term players' coach comes up constantly. What does that term mean to you, and do you consider yourself a players' coach?
BRIAN KELLY: I've been called a players' coach, a CEO, demanding, whatever narrative you want to come up with. I think I've hit all of those.
Look, I think the most important thing is you'd better have relationships with your players and you'd better know your players. You'd better know their strengths and weaknesses. You'd better be able to have the ability to reach your players and communicate with them and be demanding but never demeaning.
I think you need to be all those things. But it starts with relationships with your players.
However that's characterized, however you want to put that sound bite out there, that's me. But it's going to start with I'm going to love my players. That's the centerpiece of who I've been for 31 years as a head coach.
Q. You've had a lot of success in developing offensive linemen, which is a position group that LSU has struggled with, especially this year. I'm wondering what do you look for in those offensive linemen, and how do you go about developing them, and how can you bring that to LSU?
BRIAN KELLY: You're looking at what their demeanor is. Playing that offensive line position requires a profile that I like to stick with. I'm not going to get into the specifics right now, but there's a demeanor, there's a profile. There's a brotherhood on that offensive line that we build, and that brotherhood is real. Those guys are selfless, and they are the backbone of any great offense that I've ever coached.
If you have that kind of resume, sign up. We're looking for you. That's the starting point.
When it comes to development, it's hard work. We're ready to take on those kind of young men that have those special qualities and are ready to really dig in and put in the time.
Q. I know Scott came at you early in this process. At that point were you interested, or did you kind of put it on the back burner? When did he come back and put the full-court press on you? Secondly, you had a rare losing season five or six years ago; what did you do to -- the self-study that showed you what you needed to change to get on the current streak you're on?
BRIAN KELLY: There was no back and forth. We had a very substantive conversation, and that was it. There was no back burner. Maybe I was the back burner for him, I don't know. It wasn't my search.
But conversation led to a family conversation that led to a decision to come to LSU. That's the honest truth. I can't give you any more than what I know and how it went. There might be some other backstory narratives, but you've asked me the question and I'm giving you the honest answer. That's kind of how it played out from my perspective.
2015, I'll back you up. 2015 we went to the Fiesta Bowl. We lost a number of players from that team that went to the NFL. A number of them went early. 2016 we lost seven games in the last possession. We had one of only two losing seasons in 31 years. I had to do a deep dive and a long look at why it was that even with a young team we weren't able to pull out a lot of close victories.
It was soul searching; it was looking at the head coach; it was looking at how we were doing things internally about relationships, building leadership, accountability. I made some substantial changes within the program to address those things. Since that time, as you know, the history is five consecutive winning seasons of 10 wins or more.
Q. I was curious what the next couple weeks will look like in terms of this current roster. Obviously this is a unique situation where you're coming in and welcoming a new team, a new staff. What are you hoping to accomplish with the current roster with them preparing for a bowl game?
BRIAN KELLY: I got a chance to meet with the guys yesterday. As I told them, look, this is the first meeting. I'm not here to win the first meeting. I'm here to just let you know I am so excited to be your head football coach. This is just the first meeting of many opportunities where we'll build trust. It's not going to happen today, but we're going to trust each other, and that trust will take time, and you'll do it and you'll see it with my deeds, my actions, how we interact on a day-to-day basis, and we'll get to that point where these meetings will be very, very productive and we'll get a lot accomplished.
Today this is a meet-and-greet, and that's what it ended up being. Now, having said that, there will have to be a lot more meetings that are substantive because we've got work to do. I've got to make some decisions relative to staff, preparing this football team for a bowl game, recruiting, and all of those things.
Meet-and-greet yesterday, giving them kind of the lay of the land relative to what the expectations are relative to what has already been laid out here in terms of excellence in academics and athletics, and now we've got a lot of work to do.
Q. How familiar are you with this roster presently? Have you had a chance to see them? As an aside, you've had a lot of recruiting wins in Louisiana; how familiar are you with the talent in the state, the coaches, and maybe how would you classify that relationship with a lot of those people in the state?
BRIAN KELLY: I would be disingenuous to tell you that I know this roster inside and out, I know the players, I know what the makeup is. I know some of the areas of concern that we have to address. That's why I'm standing here, and we've got some work to do.
But we have time. We have time to address those things. We don't have forever, but we have to address those things in short order.
I know that when we talk about priorities of decision making, holding on and recruiting the guys that have made decisions, we've got to go re-recruit them because this class is important. Then we'll have time to sit down with current members that have been here that have great knowledge of the players, become more educated, and we'll make that happen over the next couple of weeks.
As it relates to recruiting in the state, the talent is outstanding. That's why I've been in the state before. But I will say this: There's a commitment to academics, as well, and that's why I came down here. The second piece is you've got to go fight for them. They're hard to get out of Louisiana, which is a great thing, because when we're recruiting from another school, you have to work really hard to get somebody to leave the state of Louisiana, so that bodes really well for us moving forward.
Q. Signing day is in 15 days; how much does that expedite what you have to do, whether it's recruiting or building or staff or whatever it might be?
BRIAN KELLY: Again, we don't have forever. I mean, we have to work with a sense of urgency, but we'll be able to put the things together necessary for us to have a class that is going to build this team. We're not going to take a step back.
There's work to be done. There's a sense of urgency. I know the pieces that we need in place. We're working on them. In between the press conferences and the photo shoots and the meet-and-greets, the phone is working overtime putting those pieces together.
Yeah, they're real questions, but this is the fifth time I've done this, so I'm quite aware of the complexities and the important pieces necessary to get through this transition, especially at a university like this that requires a championship football team every year.
Q. Mr. Woodward touched on this earlier. You come to LSU being the most accomplished hire in LSU history. What type of culture are you looking to instill in not only the players but also the fans?
BRIAN KELLY: Well, I want the fans here early, tailgating and having a great time and filling the stadium and being enthusiastic. But you've got to put a great product on the field, too, so my job is to put an exciting, winning football team on the field and come early and stay late if you'd like.
Culture for me is standards, right? Everybody throws culture around like it's this SAT word, but to me it's hard work. It's standards. It's habits. It's a way of life. You know, we're going to build that every single day. It's going to be a grind.
But we're going to embrace it because it's going to be who we are on a day-to-day basis. That's going to be LSU football.
As far as the fans go, you know, I'm just so excited to see that stadium filled. I think we've got Garth Brooks coming before the first game. I'm pretty excited about that. That should be really cool. I got a chance to see him at the other place I was at, and he's really, really good. You guys like Garth Brooks? He's pretty good.
So it'll be nice to see that stadium, and then we'll build the culture along the way.
Q. With you here now, the resources, the players you have on this current roster and maybe even the ones that are going to come in, is it crazy for us to believe that success won't be immediate?
BRIAN KELLY: Look, here's what I'm going to tell you. We didn't come here not to be successful. Success for us is going to be the process, and we'll worry -- the outcomes, I've never worried about outcomes. I've always been focused on process, process, process, and the outcomes kind of take care of themselves.
When you've done it as long as I have done it and your process is good, I've never worried about what the outcomes look like.
Q. Discipline is often the backbone of a successful football team. Successful players like to be coached hard, disciplined. Fans like to see that from their coach. Some people say it's getting harder and harder with five-star rankings and transfer portals and all that. What is your opinion on that, and what approach will you take to the LSU athlete on the field?
BRIAN KELLY: Our discipline will be self-discipline. Our players will be self-disciplined, and that will be the backbone of this program. They'll be accountable. The players will hold each other to a high standard, and that will be pervasive within the program.
If I've got to lead them around by the hand every day, we'll have good days and we'll have bad days, and that might be a little bit of it as we get going here. This football team will have self-discipline and they'll have accountability, they'll have trust in each other, and that will be what you'll see from this football team as we continue to build.
Q. When you took over at the University of Cincinnati at almost exactly the same place on the calendar, you coached in the bowl game. Did you ask for a similar opportunity here, and what do you draw on that experience as far as talent evaluation and roster evaluation in the preparation for the bowl?
BRIAN KELLY: I don't want to break history. I want to be the only guy that's done it one time. That would be historic.
You know, Scott and I have not discussed that, to be quite frank with you. It's one of those dynamics relative to time and place. I think Scott has already set it up here for this program to continue to practice and move on without me being in that position.
But it is an open discussion that we can have certainly, but that has not been part of our discussions at this point relative to the team.
Yeah, I know what we did prior to, but that's not something that we've had a chance really to get down and talk about yet.
Q. Correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding is that Notre Dame's leadership was willing to sign off on a college playoff format that might have precluded them from ever getting a bye. I've got two questions. One is when the leadership of a school does that, would that signal to a coach like you that maybe they're not as committed to winning a national title as you are, and the second is how comfortable that if you wanted to finish your career there, you could have?
BRIAN KELLY: Yeah, signing off on the provision of Notre Dame not being part of one of the top seeds was not an issue with me because it would have most likely meant that you would have had to play in South Bend in December on a snowy field. I would have been fine with that. So that would have been fine.
The second one would have been relative whether I could have finished out my career there. I don't think there would have been any hindrances there.
Photos Below By: Michael Bacigalupi
Photos Below By: Jonathan Mailhes