clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The only surprise about Brian Kelly’s move from Notre Dame to LSU is the public outrage

Why would anyone be shocked that a college football coach was looking out for No. 1?

LSU Introduces Brian Kelly as Head Football Coach
Brian Kelly (left) is introduced as LSU’s new head football coach by athletics director Scott Woodward during a news conference Wednesday in Baton Rouge, La.
Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

I’m trying to understand the public outrage over Brian Kelly’s decision to leave Notre Dame for LSU. Help me out here, all you apoplectic college football fans.

You had expected what, exactly? That Kelly would be the one coach to say no to gobs of money? That, when his life ended, he’d be buried at Notre Dame Stadium, a playbook in one hand and a shillelagh in the other?

Fifty percent of being a college football coach is thinking about possible job opportunities. The other 50% is talking about your current team as “family.’’

What’s that? You find it scandalous that Kelly would leave his players high and dry while the sixth-ranked Irish still have a chance of making the College Football Playoff?

Do you own a home in your fairy tale or do you just rent?

We’ve been through decades of this, of coaches doing at every turn what’s in their best interest. The only surprise this time is that there are people who thought Kelly’s story was going to have a happy ending for anyone other than him. Same goes with Lincoln Riley, who recently left Oklahoma for USC. Do you think Riley feels a bit of shame that his two dogs are named Boomer and Sooner? If he’s like every other college coach, he’s already changed their names to Trojan and Call My Agent.

I’m supposed to feel anger at any of this? Disbelief? A burning sensation in my large intestine? Sorry, no. Mostly, I’m amused at the fierce reaction to Kelly’s cover-of-darkness move to LSU.

What about the “student-athletes,’’ you ask, your voice cracking from the injustice of it all.

I’m beyond feeling sorry for the players, not because they don’t deserve better but because signing a letter of intent is, by definition, signing away your fanciful view of life. Coaches leave. It’s what they do. You know what else they do? They ask players to be there for each other, which sounds hypocritical when those coaches bolt for better-paying jobs. It sounds hypocritical because it is. Hypocrisy is as much a part of the system as weight rooms are. All of us – you, me and the beer in your recliner’s cup holder – know this.

If a high school athlete and his family don’t go into the recruiting process with their eyes wide open, it’s because they’ve ignored the mountain of evidence that says coaches can’t be trusted.

You rage. I shrug. But I ask you again: What do you expect from these people?

If you fall for the fiction that the coach of the college program you love is not like all those other coaches out there — the coaches who should be housed in the reptile house at the zoo — you, sir or madam, are a fool.

If you believe that the locker-room video of your coach giving a walk-on a scholarship is for anything other than the coach’s image and his ability to attract other players to the program, you’re as gullible as a puppy.

If you’ve bought into the coach’s nonsense that his program is, indeed, a “family,” I have some bad news for you: Pops is shacking up with someone else.

It’s beyond me why any clear-thinking person would assign virtue to a football coach. Kelly and Riley are the latest examples of why you shouldn’t believe a coach, but the bigger question is why anyone would have needed further examples.

This is on you, folks. Blame yourself for any feelings of betrayal you might be experiencing. Never fall in love with a coach. You’d be better off falling in love with a disposable razor.

Coaches argue that it works both ways, that schools jettison coaches all the time. They’re correct. It’s a tough, win-now, money-driven world with plenty of unpleasantness to go around. Not exactly breaking news.

My guess is that LSU’s 10-year, $95 million offer reminded Kelly that he had a better chance of winning a national title if he left Notre Dame. I’m also guessing a $1.2 million, interest-free home loan and two courtesy vehicles didn’t hurt.

Kelly’s contract is filled with incentives. He’ll get $200,000 if the Tigers make it to a College Football Playoff semifinal, $300,000 if they get to the championship game and $500,000 if they win the national title.

He can earn an extra $50,000 based on his team’s academic performance. Kind of cute how they try to make education seem important.

There’s no honor in any of this, but since when did honor have anything to do with college football?