SURRATT: Time will tell if LSU fans appreciate what they have received
Published 4:00 am Friday, December 3, 2021
While I tend to restrict writing about sports to a few columns a year, with all the furor over Brian Kelly moving (some would say jumping) from Notre Dame to LSU, I feel I have to enter my two cents (maybe less) worth.
Like a lot of folks, I was floored by the news that Kelly was dropping the blue and gold of the Fighting Irish for the purple and gold of LSU.
Talk about a plot twist.
Since the news broke Monday night, the sports pundits have been prone to commentary ranging from the intelligent to the outright insane and stupid.
One of the more interesting and stupid comments was that LSU went after Kelly because it couldn’t get former Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley, who is headed to Los Angeles and all the glamor and glitter to coach at the University of Southern California.
Personally, I think that writer’s theory is ridiculous. Riley’s name was out in the public domain along with Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher and other “name” coaches whose names were bantered about continuously among the sports gossipers.
Personally, I think LSU Athletic Director Scott Woodward had his radar on Kelly the whole time. Kelly, according to his former boss, seemed to indicate a desire to move on from Notre Dame, the Golden Dome and Touchdown Jesus to what he believed were greener pastures.
Amongst all the gossip, Woodward held his cards close to the vest and said nothing. I remember telling someone that LSU’s next coach was someone whose name hasn’t been mentioned in all the coaching chatter. I was right — in a way — I remember reading an article on ESPN.com or Saturday Down South that speculated about Kelly going to LSU. It never gained traction beyond that bit of commentary.
So, LSU has a new head coach — a Yankee who did all his coaching up north and people are wondering how he’ll fit in with the unique culture of Louisiana. The questions are being raised about his ability to adapt to the area and the SEC way of doing things like recruiting.
The comments bring to mind a coach LSU hired in 2000 who spent most of his time coaching up north with the Cleveland Browns, the University of Toledo and a school called Michigan State. The coach was a guy named Nick Saban and he established a culture at LSU and won the school’s second national championship in 2003.
And how will the fans react? There are some who will hate Kelly, regardless if he wins a national title every year of his tenure because he was not the coach they wanted. Some will sit on the fence and watch before deciding whether to love or hate him. Most fans, however, will embrace and support him, even more so if he beats Alabama and Ole Miss every year.
This first season under his control will be interesting.
For years, whenever LSU’s football coach’s position became vacant, people have clamored for a “name coach.” Now they have one, and a pretty good one, too. They have a coach who knows how to win and who can provide the discipline and intensity the Tiger football team needs, and the first few seasons could be tough as he implements his program. We’ll see how well the fans appreciate what they’ve got.