LSU Football: Brian Kelly under most pressure among 1st year coaches – LSU Wire

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Brian Kelly made a bet on himself this offseason.
The 60-year-old could have finished his career out at Notre Dame, where he became the winningest coach in school history with his final victory in South Bend, Indiana. He had been the head coach of the Fighting Irish since 2010, but he had never reached the mountaintop.
He made the leap to the SEC, where he will look to become the fourth LSU coach in a row to win a national title. He’s one of the most accomplished active coaches in college football, and naturally, expectations are high.
This was a wild year in the coaching carousel, but arguably no first-year coach will be under as much pressure to succeed as Kelly now that he has SEC talent at his disposal.
Asked which of the head coaches that moved to greener pastures this offseason faces the most pressure between Kelly, USC’s Lincoln Riley and Miami’s Mario Cristobal, The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach said the answer is the new Tigers coach.
 I’ve got to go with Brian Kelly, due to a few factors. One, the way he left Notre Dame — abruptly and with a potential Playoff berth on the line — immediately heightened every little thing he did in the aftermath, from hiring his staff to dancing with recruits. We’ve seen and heard a lot about Kelly over the past few months, and that’s because there are a lot of eyes on him. Two, the reason he took the LSU job. He has said, in no uncertain terms, that he
believes LSU is the kind of place you can win a national championship. Which means, in no uncertain terms, that Notre Dame wasn’t. To Kelly, Notre Dame had a ceiling, and he had
reached it. It was about getting to the Playoff, but the gap between getting there and winning games was clear.
I believe that “fit” matters when we talk about new coaches and the programs they’re joining. However, I also believe that LSU has the resources and the talent-rich home region to offset concerns I have about Kelly not being the best fit for the job. We’ve seen Ed Orgeron and Les Miles win national titles in Baton Rouge, so I do think it’s reasonable to expect the same for Kelly. Not necessarily in Year 1, of course. But this is a fan and donor base with high expectations and little patience, and if you’re leaving Notre Dame for this opportunity, you’ve got them yourself. The nonconference schedule (Florida State, Southern and New Mexico) is more than manageable, but Kelly has to show something in his debut season in the SEC West. The pressure isn’t necessarily there to beat Nick Saban right out of the gate, but it will be there to finish above .500 in league play and wrap up the season in the nine- or 10-win range. That will feel more like a relief than outright joy three seasons removed from a national title, but that’s certainly better than 6-6, and it’d be a necessary first step for Kelly.
Those expectations feel different than what Lincoln Riley walked into at USC where, even though he’s bringing along some of Oklahoma’s best players and top recruits, people realize there are holes on the current roster. I’d argue that the only other head coach facing pressure similar to Kelly is Mario Cristobal. Miami spent a ton of money to get rid of Manny Diaz and bring in Cristobal, and it spent a ton more money to get the staff Cristobal wanted. As with Kelly, I don’t think the expectation for Year 1 is a national title or anything quite that crazy. But Miami needs to quickly turn itself into an annual ACC Coastal contender, and if the Canes don’t do that in 2022, the pressure will build.

Auerbach really cuts to the core of the issue here. Kelly’s Notre Dame team had a potential playoff berth on the line when he left, and he had made it to the CFP before. But he clearly thinks he’s better poised to win a title in Baton Rouge.
Expecting that in Year 1 is unreasonable, as even an accomplished first-year coach needs time to get his process in place. But athletic director Scott Woodward made a big splash bringing Kelly to campus, and this is a fanbase that will expect success sooner rather than later.
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