Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly named LSU’s next head football coach
It was a vision as clear as the summer daylight. I was rounding third base at the Atlanta Braves’ Turner Field and on my way to home plate, but no one else could see it.
All anyone else saw was a kid gazing out of the car window as trees passed by at 70 miles per hour. A boy silently daydreaming and nothing more.
My family had packed our belongings for summer vacation and were headed to the east coast where I would see my first Major League Baseball game featuring my favorite team, the aforementioned Braves, and favorite player Chipper Jones.
My parents had chosen a game where the children would be allowed on the field after the game to round the bases. I was in disbelief that I would experience such an opportunity, but I was already teeming with excitement to step on an MLB field.
When we finally arrived at our hotel in Atlanta, the first gut punch hit me. We had learned that Jones had injured himself that night and would not be taking the field for the game we were attending.
While disappointed, I still had a lot to look forward to for an enjoyable experience.
The following day was cloudless and beautiful as the Braves took the field. The first few innings were exciting! Then, the second gut punch arrived when, out of nowhere, the heavens opened up, and we were sent into an hours-long rain delay.
My heart sank into my stomach when the public address announcer broke the news on the loudspeaker that the field was too damp to allow kids to run the bases.
The final blow came when the Braves lost the game, and I felt as though I had arrived at the lowest point a kid could reach.
I hated that trip for a long time.
It wasn’t until I was older that I finally realized what I was too naive to see in that moment.
My parents spent their hard-earned money and drove me almost 500 miles to Atlanta, Georgia, so that I could see my favorite baseball team play. On that trip, I shared special moments with my family that have become fonder as the years pass.
I had built myself up dreaming about the perfect trip, but the reality is that the perfect trip does not exist. There is nothing on this flawed planet that goes completely as planned.
Similarly, the LSU fan base has been building itself up for a grand slam hire for its next football coach. Names like Jimbo Fisher, Dabo Swinney, Lincoln Riley, and yes, even an ever so often mention of Nick Saban were thought of as potential candidates in the perfect wish list to replace outgoing LSU coach Ed Orgeron.
Most of those names aren’t far-fetched as one might think as Tiger athletic director Scott Woodward has a reputation and proven track record for swinging for the fences and landing the biggest names in sports.
So, when it was announced that Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly would be the next head coach of the LSU Tigers, fans immediately expressed their frustration.
We were all daydreaming what we believed to be the perfect hire in our minds. We were already imagining Oklahoma’s Riley in the purple and gold.
However, it wasn’t meant to be as Riley, most likely, spurned Woodward when it was announced Sunday that Riley would be the next head coach at the University of Southern California.
In spite of the circus that followed when that news broke, Woodward secured a coach that is currently ranked third on the list for winningest active coaches. He sports a 92-39 record at Notre Dame and has had 10+ wins per season in the last five seasons. He has taken the Fighting Irish to a BCS National Championship game appearance and two College Football Playoff appearances at a program where one still has to gain academic admission before receiving an athletic scholarship to play football.
Kelly has not won a national championship like Swinney or Fisher and his teams aren’t prolific offensive machines like Riley’s Oklahoma teams. He’s not a young, up-and-comer like the Florida Gators’ new coach Billy Napier.
Are any of these absolute necessities when you land the most qualified and accomplished football coach that LSU has ever hired at the time of the hire?
The Tigers’ last two coaches Les Miles and Ed Orgeron were not coaching geniuses, but both won national championships. Miles coached in two national title games and Orgeron fielded, arguably, the greatest college football team in history in 2019.
There is no question that Kelly will win at LSU. The Tigers’ program history points to that fact as does Kelly’s resume.
The real question lies with the fans. Will we give Kelly a fair shot to make this program into a contender again, or will we be the stubborn child pouting in the backseat because we dreamt about [insert name of your perfect coach], refusing to enjoy the great coach the Tigers just landed?
Will we sit on third base angry about missing a home run instead of smiling after hitting a triple?