LSU football head coach Brian Kelly is not on the 2023 Dodd Trophy preseason watch list. Such is the result of the Tigers’ shortcomings in the classroom.
21 FBS head coaches appear on the 2023 Dodd Trophy preseason watch, but Brian Kelly is not one of them. The list features Alabama’s Nick Saban, Arkansas’ Sam Pittman, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, and Notre Dame’s Marcus Freeman.
Unfortunately, the LSU football head coach did not make the cut because of his program’s academic shortcomings during the 2021-22 school year.
2023 Dodd Trophy eligibility requires football programs to have an academic progress rate (APR) of 980 or above. LSU football’s APR was 923 during the NCAA’s last report academic year. Worse, the Tigers’ 2021-22 APR experienced a 10-point drop from the previous academic year.
Indeed, Kelly must address LSU football’s academic down spiral and apply measures that reverse the trend.
About the Dodd Trophy
The Dodd Trophy is named for Bobby Dodd, the longtime Georgia Tech football head coach and athletic director. Dodd was known for his dedication to his student-athletes’ personal lives, including academic excellence. As such, the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award recognizes the head coach that leads their team to success on and off the field.
Peach Bowl, Inc. manages the Dodd Trophy, including award criteria, and is responsible for the preseason watch list. The 2023 preseason watch list considered projected on-field success, APR, graduation success rate (GSR), and charitable service to the community.
Additionally, head coaches are not eligible for Dodd Trophy consideration until their 2nd year with a program. Thus, Kelly was not eligible for the 2022 Dodd Award because it was his first season with LSU football.
Tulane’s Willie Fritz won the 2022 Dodd Trophy.
Why Dodd Trophy consideration matters to LSU football
Many LSU football might not care about the Dodd Trophy preseason watch list, but they should. The award’s prerequisites are a reminder that college football players are student-athletes, many of whom will not progress into the NFL.
Coaches like Kelly must lead programs that are successful in the classroom and enable players to earn degrees and successful careers outside of football.
Additionally, Dodd Trophy criteria is very similar to language built into the contracts for some head coaches and athletic directors. For example, Kelly will receive a $50k bonus if LSU football achieves an APR of 970 or above.
Athletic director Scott Woodward will receive a $75k bonus if cumulative LSU’s APR ranks within the NCAA’s top 66.7%. Woodward will receive another $100k if LSU achieves an 88% GSR.
The Dodd Trophy is the most coveted award among those who recognize the top college football head coach.