LSU’s Kelly: Media days says ‘college football is back’

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Brian Kelly

The new guy on the block hasn’t been to a conference media day in 13 years, but he batted in the leadoff spot Monday at SEC Football Kickoff in Atlanta.

New LSU coach Brian Kelly didn’t have any new revelations, but he opened with a thought shared by most.

“For me,” he said, the media days “kind of signifies college football is back.”

The Tigers open the season Sept. 4 against Florida State in the Allstate Louisiana Kickoff in the Caesars Superdome. Last year at Notre Dame, Kelly’s team also opened the season on a Sunday night against FSU.

“(FSU) fought for four quarters against Notre Dame last year,” said Kelly. “That has a lot to do with buy in. You can see them play harder and harder. This is a team now that has Mike (Norvell)’s stamp on it. You’re seeing the signs of a football program … making incremental progress.

“They lost some really good players. We’re relying on a lot of that film and player evaluations. We’ve got a new team, new players. It’s an opener.”

Kelly’s offense features a pair of quarterbacks with notable starting time in Arizona State transfer Jayden Daniels and returnee Myles Brennan, who bring different skill sets to the plate. Daniels is a dual threat with more than 1,200 career rushing yards, while Brennan is a traditional dropback passer.

“We weren’t going to gear (offensive installation) toward any particular skill set,” Kelly said. “The depth at the quarterback position is much different. Jayden and Myles bring us starting experience.

“I’ve got playmakers on offense that are already in place. They’ve got to get the ball to playmakers.”

Kelly went to the transfer portal to fill in depth, particularly on the offensive line and the secondary. Two of the transfers came from Arkansas by way of the metro New Orleans area – Greg Brooks (West Jefferson) and Joe Foucha (McDonogh 35).

“They have been outstanding additions to the program.” Kelly said. “Many don’t like to see that inside the league and I’m not crazy about it either, but these are two Louisiana kids.

“When we were looking in the portal, we were looking for experience in the SEC and ties to the state of Louisiana. Brooks and Foucha fit that to a ‘t.’”

Kelly’s next recruiting class, which has ramped up significantly over the last two weeks, features a mix of Louisiana and nationwide products. What is his approach to recruiting?

“First and foremost, making sure you evaluate the entire state of Louisiana,” he said. “It’s not just New Orleans and the greater Baton Rouge area. That doesn’t just mean you take a kid from Louisiana just because it’s Louisiana. If I’ve gotten any feedback, we needed to extend our recruiting efforts a little further north.”

As someone who is originally from the Northeast and has spent much of his coaching career in the Midwest, Kelly is a newcomer to the south.

“I’ve never been in many of the (SEC) venues,” he said. “I’ve never been to Auburn, Kyle Field, the Swamp.”

The Tigers have to play three of their final five SEC games on the road.

“I think it’s how you train your team,” Kelly said. “You’re going to be playing big games in October and November, and you have to be ready for December.”

The two hot-button topics in college athletics over the last 12 months have been name, image and likeness and conference realignment/expansion.

While others in the SEC West have gotten into more heated debates about NIL, Kelly was much more matter-of-fact about the topic.

“What we’re doing relative to NIL,” he said, “is as competitive as anyone else. I don’t feel hamstrung. I want to continue to educate with NIL, use the resources wisely and have that available for our student-athletes when the time comes.”

With regard to realignment, Kelly said, “(It’s) musical chairs, and the music’s going to stop and you’re not going to have a place at the table. There’s not enough chairs for everybody. That’s the current state of college football.”

As for his former employer, Notre Dame, possibly joining a league for football? “It’s probably not been high on my list of things to think about,” he said. “I’ve been trying to correct a slice the last couple of weeks.”



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Lenny Vangilder


Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…

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