Oct 23, 2021; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; LSU Tigers quarterback Garrett Nussmeier (5) during the second half against the Mississippi Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

LSU decides on starting QB; won’t reveal decision

LSU head coach Brian Kelly said he has decided on a starting quarterback for Sunday’s season opener in New Orleans against Florida State, but declined to release the details of his choice.

“We’ve made a decision, but I’m not going to announce it publicly,” Kelly said, adding that he came to the decision over the weekend.

Kelly’s choice is down to redshirt freshman Garrett Nussmeier and junior transfer Jayden Daniels. It has been characterized as a 50/50 battle throughout the preparations for the upcoming season.

Nussmeier played four games for LSU last season, going 29 of 57 for 329 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Daniels proved himself to be a productive two-way threat in three seasons at Arizona State. He even guided the Sun Devils to a victory over Florida State in the 2019 Sun Bowl. Last season at Arizona State, the Los Angeles-area product threw for 2,381 yards and 10 TDs, with 710 yards rushing and six more scores.

Kelly said the decision will not be revealed until before Sunday’s game against the Seminoles (1-0).

“It doesn’t help us to play that card (now),” Kelly said.

Kelly did announce his starting offensive line. It will consist of Will Campbell at left tackle, Miles Frazier at left guard, Garrett Dellinger at center, Anthony Bradford at right guard and Cam Wire at right tackle.

Kelly, who takes over the Tigers program after going 113-40 in 12 seasons at Notre Dame, replaces Ed Orgeron, who departed following what was portrayed as a mutual agreement.

–Field Level Media

Aug 9, 2021; West Harrison, Indiana, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock directs a drill during practice at the Higher Ground training facility. Mandatory Credit: Sam Greene/The Cincinnati Enquirer via USA TODAY NETWORK

Reports: Cincinnati OC Mike Denbrock heading to LSU

Cincinnati offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock is expected to leave the school to take the same position at LSU, multiple outlets reported Saturday.

Denbrock joined the Bearcats staff in 2017. In 2021, he helped to lead Cincinnati to an undefeated regular season and the College Football Playoff.

The Bearcats were the first Group of Five team to qualify for the CFP and were defeated by Alabama 27-6 on Friday in the Cotton Bowl. They finished with a 13-1 record.

At LSU, he’ll be joining the staff of Brian Kelly, who was hired Nov. 30. Denbrock, who turns 58 this month, worked under Kelly at both Grand Valley State and at Notre Dame. He’s also coached at Illinois State, Stanford and Washington.

–Field Level Media

Nov 27, 2021; Stanford, California, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly walks off the field after the game against the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame AD: Brian Kelly didn’t give chance to match offer

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said Tuesday that outgoing coach Brian Kelly didn’t give him a chance to match the offer that he accepted at LSU, adding that Kelly won’t coach the Irish in their bowl game.

Kelly was officially named as LSU’s new head coach Tuesday.

Swarbrick said he feels “less of a need to have a designated interim” but will designate someone on the staff to make head-coaching decisions as the Irish prepare for a possible College Football Playoff appearance. At worst, Notre Dame will play in a top New Year’s Day bowl game.

“I have every confidence we will be fully prepared for what I hope is a CFP game,” Swarbrick said. “Brian will not be a part of that for us.”

Regardless, any interim would not be a candidate for the permanent job, he said.

Notre Dame sits 11-1 and was No. 6 in the CFP rankings last week. However, the Irish could move into the top four after No. 2 Ohio State’s loss last week.

Swarbrick said he sensed a “certain restlessness” in Kelly the past few weeks, saying “it felt like somebody who might be open to a different opportunity,” including Kelly making “Freudian slips.”

Swarbrick also said he did not speak with Kelly until after the news broke Monday night.

“He did not discuss with me the conversations he had with other universities,” Swarbrick said. “We are always talking about the program’s needs. There was nothing identified at any time that was something we could not meet.”

Swarbrick said he has not reached out to any potential candidates yet, and said it’s about the right fit. He will not utilize a search firm. He also said he does not keep a list of potential candidates, instead plans to build characteristics of the next head coach.

Swarbrick’s comments come in the aftermath of a messy exodus by Kelly, who texted his team late Monday night only after media reports came out that he was heading to LSU.

“I will have more to share when we meet tomorrow at 7 a.m. but for now, just know that my love for you is limitless and I am so proud of all that you have accomplished,” Kelly’s message read, per The Athletic. “Our program is elite because of your hard work and commitment and I know that will continue. I will share more in the morning when we meet. Again, my sincere apologies for not being able to be the one to share the news directly with you.”

Further, The Athletic reported that Kelly ghosted his assistant coaches, some of whom were on recruiting trips.

Kelly reportedly met with his team Tuesday morning and left after roughly 11 minutes. According to the LSU press release, Kelly was flying to Baton Rouge on Tuesday afternoon.

Kelly, 60, became the winningest coach in Notre Dame history earlier this season, passing Knute Rockne, and won 113 of 153 games in 12 years at Notre Dame. He took the Fighting Irish to the College Football Playoff twice.

–Field Level Media

Oct 2, 2021; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly enters Notre Dame Stadium before the game against the Cincinnati Bearcats. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

LSU names Brian Kelly as head coach with 10-year deal

LSU and Brian Kelly made their partnership official with a 10-year deal worth $95 million plus incentives, the Tigers announced Tuesday.

The former Notre Dame coach will be introduced at a press conference at noon local time Wednesday.

“I could not be more excited to join a program with the commitment to excellence, rich traditions, and unrivaled pride and passion of LSU Football,” Kelly said in a release. “I am fully committed to recruiting, developing, and graduating elite student-athletes, winning championships, and working together with our administration to make Louisiana proud. Our potential is unlimited, and I cannot wait to call Baton Rouge home.”

Kelly, 60, became the winningest coach in Notre Dame history earlier this season, passing Knute Rockne, and won 113 of 153 games in 12 years at Notre Dame after previously coaching Central Michigan and Cincinnati. He took the Fighting Irish to the College Football Playoff twice.

Kelly’s official record at Notre Dame is 92-39 due to wins vacated because of NCAA sanctions. He went 19-16 at Central Michigan and 34-6 at Cincinnati.

“Brian Kelly is the epitome of a winner,” LSU director of athletics Scott Woodward said in the release. “He has built and sustained success at every program he’s led, from multiple undefeated regular seasons and National Coach of the Year honors to national titles and College Football Playoff berths. His credentials and consistency speak for themselves.”

Kelly replaces Ed Orgeron, who led LSU to a national title two years ago. LSU and Orgeron agreed in October that they would part ways after the season. The Tigers finished the regular season 6-6, including an upset of then-No. 15 Texas A&M, to become bowl-eligible.

–Field Level Media

Nov 27, 2021; Stanford, California, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly walks off the field after the game against the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Brian Kelly leaves Notre Dame for LSU job

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly is leaving the Fighting Irish to accept the same job at LSU, multiple media outlets reported Monday night.

Kelly, 60, became the winningest coach in Notre Dame history earlier this season, passing Knute Rockne, and won 113 of 153 games in 12 years at Notre Dame after previously coaching Central Michigan and Cincinnati. He took the Fighting Irish to the College Football Playoff twice.

Kelly’s official record at Notre Dame is 92-39 due to wins vacated because of NCAA sanctions.

In the latest surprise of the college football coaching carousel, he heads to a Southeastern Conference program not two years removed from winning a national championship under coach Ed Orgeron.

LSU and Orgeron agreed in October that they would part ways after the season. The Tigers finished the regular season 6-6, including an upset of then-No. 15 Texas A&M, to become bowl-eligible.

Notre Dame finished its season 11-1 and is not yet out of the running for a College Football Playoff berth.

Reports said an agreement between Kelly and LSU is likely to be finalized in the next 24 hours, and Kelly had not communicated his plans to his assistant coaches in South Bend, Ind., when the news broke.

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2021; Charlottesville, Virginia, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly stands on the sidelines against the Virginia Cavaliers at Scott Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: LSU making ‘aggressive’ push for Brian Kelly

LSU has set its sights on Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly in its coaching search, multiple media outlets reported Monday.

The Athletic termed it “an aggressive push” on LSU’s part to hire Kelly, while Sports Illustrated reported that interest on Kelly’s part has yet to be confirmed.

Ever since LSU made the decision to part ways with Ed Orgeron Oct. 17, speculation had mounted that the Tigers would seek a high-profile replacement.

That had been athletic director Scott Woodward’s operating procedure at previous stops at Washington (Chris Petersen) and Texas A&M (Jimbo Fisher). More recently, Woodward pried national championship-winning women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey away from Baylor to assume the same post at LSU.

And Woodward hasn’t shied away from making public the lesson learned from the Peterson experience.

As Sports Illustrated detailed in a 2018 profile, “Don’t assume any coach is off the table.”

Kelly is Notre Dame’s all-time winningest coach and has led the Fighting Irish to a pair of College Football Playoff appearances among five straight double-digit winning seasons.

The Notre Dame coach has 263 career wins, third-most among FBS head coaches, with a record of 113-40 with the Fighting Irish.

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2021; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly leaves the field after defeating the Purdue Boilermakers at Notre Dame Stadium. The win was his 105th as Notre Dame coach and tied Kelly for most wins at Notre Dame with Knute Rockne. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly downplays tying Knute Rockne record

No. 12 Notre Dame and No. 18 Wisconsin will square off in a top 20 matchup Saturday in Chicago, and while it’s a crucial game for both teams, it also could be a record-setting one for Irish coach Brian Kelly.

With Notre Dame’s 27-13 win this weekend over Purdue, Kelly won his 105th game at the school, tying the legendary Knute Rockne for the most in program history.

Kelly will be going for his record 106th on Saturday at Soldier Field, and he insisted after Saturday’s game that achieving such a record is more than a team effort.

“It requires consistency to get to these marks,” said Kelly, who turns 60 next month. “We have it with our leadership, we have it with our athletic director and we’ve had it in the coaching because we have alignment. That’s helped a lot in being consistent and winning football games.”

Notre Dame hired Kelly before the 2010 season and he has tallied a 105-39 record with the Irish. He’s led them to 10 bowl games in 11 seasons, including the semifinals of the College Football Playoff twice and one BCS national championship game — all losses.

Before landing at Notre Dame, he coached Central Michigan for four seasons and Cincinnati for four. His overall record is 158-61.

Rockne guided Notre Dame to a 105-12-5 record from 1918-30. In an era where bowl games were sparse, he took the Irish to just one bowl game — the 1924 Rose Bowl, which they won 27-10 over Stanford. But Notre Dame won three national championships in his era: 1924, 1929 and 1930.

“It doesn’t mean anything else relative to comparisons or who’s better,” Kelly said earlier this week, before tying Rockne. “Those things really don’t mean much to me. I came here to do a job, and that was to bring Notre Dame back to its winning traditions. We’ve gotten there by being consistent and having stability. That’s what (105 wins) means more than anything else to me.”

Rockne died in a plane crash in Kansas on March 31, 1931, at age 43.

–Field Level Media

May 1, 2021; Notre Dame, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Jack Coan (17) takes the snap in the first half of the Blue-Gold Game at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame names Jack Coan starting QB

Jack Coan will start at quarterback for Notre Dame when the Fighting Irish open the 2021 season Sept. 5 at Florida State.

A transfer from Wisconsin, Coan beat out redshirt freshman Drew Pyne and freshman Tyler Buchner in the bid to replace graduated starter Ian Book.

“All three quarterbacks distinguished themselves in the spring and preseason camp,” coach Brian Kelly tweeted Saturday. “Clearly, each has the skills necessary to lead, but Jack proved to be more consistent and therefore, going into our opener, gives us the best chance for success.”

A 6-foot-3 senior, Coan started 18 of the 25 games he appeared in with the Badgers. He broke his foot in the 2020 preseason camp and missed the season, and the Badgers transitioned to Graham Mertz as their starter.

At Wisconsin, Coan completed 68 percent of his passes for 3,278 yards, 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He had a 12-6 record as a starter, 8-3 in the Big Ten.

At Notre Dame, Coan has big shoes to fill.

Book, a fourth-round pick by the New Orleans Saints in the 2021 draft, was 30-5 as Notre Dame’s starter — the most wins ever by a Fighting Irish quarterback. In 2019, he became the first quarterback in Notre Dame history with at least 2,500 passing yards, 500 rushing yards and 30 touchdown passes in a season.

The irish made the College Football Playoff last season and lost 31-14 to Alabama in one national semifinal. They finished with a 10-2 record and the No. 5 ranking in the final Associated Press poll

–Field Level Media

Dec 28, 2019; Orlando, Florida, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly reacts to the referee against the Iowa State Cyclones during the second half at Camping World Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Irish coach Kelly defends program as playoffs approach

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly is well aware that his team has sustained lopsided losses on the national stage in recent years.

Still, Kelly is not about to apologize for the No. 4 Fighting Irish heading into their Friday game against No. 1 Alabama in the College Football Playoff semifinal at Arlington, Texas.

“We’re knocking at the door every year, playing really good teams and great opponents, and they’re elite football teams,” Kelly said. “I don’t know why this narrative continues to pop up when we’re always in the game. No, we haven’t won a national championship. That’s correct. And, you know, I’m not changing the record. But we are there every single year and we are grinding it out just like everybody else.”

Notre Dame lost 30-3 to Clemson two years ago in the semifinal. In the 2012-13 championship game, the Fighting Irish lost 42-14 against Alabama.

Oddsmakers have pegged Notre Dame as 20-point underdogs for Friday’s game.

“It’s motivating,” Fighting Irish running back Kyren Williams said. “Not everybody in the world believes in us, and it’s OK because we don’t want anybody to believe in us besides us. We’re going to go out there on Friday and do what we do best. Being an underdog is nothing new to us, and we’re going to keep proving to the world who we are.”

Kelly said he would not let Notre Dame’s history dictate its future.

“Only one team gets to celebrate at the end of the year,” Kelly said. “We’re going to keep banging and we’re going to keep getting back here, and that’s our job. That’s our challenge each and every year is to compete for a national championship, and we’ll continue to do that.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 24, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly (right) leads the team onto the field before playing the Pittsburgh Panthers at Heinz Field. Notre Dame won 45-3. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Kelly: Notre Dame might ditch CFP if parents not allowed

A win Saturday in the ACC championship game would seal a College Football Playoff semifinal berth for No. 2 Notre Dame, but Irish coach Brian Kelly said he doesn’t know whether his team would play if players’ families can’t be in the stands.

“I’m not sure we’ll play in the playoffs if the parents can’t be there,” Kelly told reporters Friday. “Why would be we play if you can’t have families at the game? If you can’t have families at bowl games, why would you go to a game where your families can’t be part of it? What’s the sense of playing a game in an area of the country where nobody can be part of it?”

The Irish (10-0) will meet No. 3 Clemson (9-1) in the ACC title game on Saturday at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., where 5,240 fans will be allowed amid the coronavirus pandemic. Notre Dame, an independent, joined the ACC on a temporary basis this season to be able to play a full slate of games.

Even with a loss to Clemson, Notre Dame wouldn’t be out of contention for a CFP semifinal berth.

One of the semifinals is scheduled to be played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. With Los Angeles County experiencing a dangerous spike in COVID-19 cases, a ban on fans at sporting events remains in effect.

The county had 14,270 new cases on Thursday, and the county Department of Health Services reported only 18 open beds in intensive care units.

The second semifinal is set for the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. Both games are scheduled for Jan. 1.

Bill Hancock, the executive director of the College Football Playoffs, said earlier this week he hoped Los Angeles County would relax its restrictions on fans for the day.

“At this moment, the College Football Playoff looks forward to playing one of the two semifinal playoff games at the Rose Bowl, as scheduled,” Hancock said in a statement. “As we move forward with our planning, we continue to hope that the Rose Bowl’s appeal to government officials to allow the families of student-athletes to attend will be permitted, just as student-athlete families will be welcomed at the Sugar Bowl, the other New Year’s Six games and the championship game in Miami.”

Kelly said his players shouldn’t be deprived of having their families in attendance.

“Maybe they [CFP] need to spend a little less time on who the top four teams are and figure out how to get parents into these games because it is an absolute shame and a sham if parents can’t be watching their kids play,” Kelly said. “My kids have been on campus since June. They haven’t seen their families very much at all. They’ve had to fight through COVID, some of them have had COVID. They can’t be around their families for Christmas, and you’re going to tell me we’re going to have a playoff and maybe one site can have families and the other can’t? Please.

“Somebody’s got to wake up in that room and figure this out or you might as well call this the professional league. I am so sick and tired of this playoff committee talking about having sites where you can’t have parents at and their families. It’s ridiculous.”

Earlier this fall, athletic directors Martin Jarmond of UCLA and Mike Bohn of USC asked county and state health officials to allow family members of their football teams to attend games and were denied.

UCLA plays its home games at the Rose Bowl.

The Los Angeles Rams and Chargers also have played their home games at the new SoFi Stadium in nearby Inglewood without any fans in attendance.

An appearance in one of the New Year’s Six bowls and College Football Playoff games is a financial windfall for schools and conferences. In 2018-19, the Rose, Sugar, Orange, Fiesta, Peach and Cotton bowls, plus the national championship game, paid a combined $549 million to leagues and participants, USA Today reported.

–Field Level Media