LSU Football: How the Tigers narrowly avoided a disastrous end to their coaching search

Mandatory Credit: Scott Clause-USA TODAY NETWORK
Mandatory Credit: Scott Clause-USA TODAY NETWORK /

LSU football ended their coaching search on Monday by hiring Brian Kelly away from Notre Dame.

Kelly replaces Ed Orgeron, a coach who led the Tigers to possibly the greatest season ever by a college football team in 2019.

The expectation for Kelly will be to win championships. The last three LSU head coaches have all won a natty. That means moving forward, the Tigers likely want their coach to win multiple national championships.

Essentially, LSU is looking for Nick Saban-like success from Kelly.

Fortunately for the Tigers, Kelly appears to be the type of coach that can deliver that kind of success.

Kelly revived Notre Dame’s football program from the dead, leading the Irish to two College Football Playoff appearances over the last decade. That’s a tough feat to accomplish at Notre Dame, a program with rigorous academic standards that can be a roadblock when it comes to recruiting.

LSU football almost ended their coaching search with a disaster

There have been some questions about whether or not Kelly is a good “fit” at LSU.

The Massachusetts native has never coached south of Cincinnati. He has no SEC ties.

I get it. But I don’t think any of that matters.

The same things could’ve been said about Nick Saban and Les Miles when they arrived in Baton Rouge. They both eventually won championships at LSU.

When it comes to fit, no one was a better cultural fit than Louisiana native Ed Orgeron. He won a natty, too. But he also finished with the Tigers’ worst back-to-back seasons since the program finished with a losing record in 1998 and 1999.

Fit is overrated.

Kelly fits at LSU because he wants to be at LSU. He wants to be in the best conference in the country going up against the best players and best coaches in the country — unlike the coach that LSU was reportedly pursuing before the Kelly hire was made.

There were rumors last weekend that LSU was trying to convince Lincoln Riley to leave Oklahoma for Baton Rouge. It seemed like a long shot, but the Riley rumors wouldn’t die. They kept persisting.

Until finally on Sunday, Riley left the Sooners for USC. It was a surprising move. Mostly because Riley was getting as far away from the SEC as possible.

It’s obvious that Riley isn’t up to the challenge of coaching in the SEC. If LSU would’ve somehow convinced him to come to Baton Rouge (perhaps by handing him a blank check), it could’ve been a disaster.

Riley is a good coach. But his decision to avoid the SEC tells me a lot about him. It tells me that he’s looking for the easy path to a championship. It tells me that he doesn’t fully believe in his ability as a head coach to lead a program.

Maybe he’ll have great success at USC. No one knows right now.

What I think I do know, though, is that LSU dodged a bullet with Riley.

Next. Good recruiting news for LSU. dark

The Tigers are much better off with a man that sees the challenge and embraces it.

That’s why I think Brian Kelly was a fantastic choice for LSU.