LSU's Kelly: I had 'no plan' to look for new job entering the season
Newly appointed LSU head coach Brian Kelly took the podium as the leader of the Tigers for the first time Wednesday on the heels of his abrupt exit from Notre Dame after 12 years.
"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," he told media members.
Kelly became the winningest head coach in Notre Dame history this season, tying the record with a 45-14 win over Stanford on Sept. 25. He compiled a 113-40 record at the school, passing Knute Rockne's previous record of 105 wins.
The Fighting Irish are 11-1 and sit sixth in the College Football Playoff rankings, with a shot at securing the fourth seed depending on the outcome of conference championship games.
"It's never easy, right, these decisions. It's my choice, I own it, it's 100% my decision. Those young men, I love dearly, and it made it for a difficult decision," said Kelly.
"This team at Notre Dame is an outstanding football team and they deserve to be in the playoffs."
He agreed to a 10-year deal worth $9.5 million per year, plus incentives. LSU officially announced the hire Tuesday, though news broke Monday. Kelly notified the team through text that he would be leaving and met with players Tuesday morning.
Each of LSU's previous three coaches - Nick Saban, Les Miles, and Ed Orgeron - won a national title during their tenure.
LSU has a 6-6 record, making it bowl eligible after going 5-5 the year prior. En route to their 2020 national title, the Tigers went 14-0.
After coaching an FBS independent school, Kelly moves to one of the toughest conference divisions in college football, though he said the appeal of the SEC isn't what attracted him to the position.
"The SEC, we know about its prowess in terms of success and the players and the teams and the coaches," Kelly said.
"But ... 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."