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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Kelly embraced by LSU fans in first season

by Wally Hall | November 15, 2022 at 4:26 a.m.

In the first 24 hours Brian Kelly was on the job as head coach of the LSU Tigers, he did something so silly it overshadowed the brilliant thing he did.

After being introduced as LSU's new football coach, he went to a Tigers' basketball game and at halftime he addressed the crowd.

Faking a southern accent.

Some people can do that and get by with. Kelly is originally from the Boston area, and his act came across as dumb. He paid for it in the weeks to come.

Most thought LSU had hired a clown.

No one thinks that anymore, and attention is now on what he said when he was hired; that any native of Louisiana playing college football who wasn't recruited by the previous regime should feel free to call him.

Before fall camp started, 19 players had transferred to LSU, including former Arkansas Razorbacks Joe Foucha and Greg Brooks, who started for the Tigers on Saturday.

That list included quarterback Jayden Daniels and four other starters plus numerous others who played. Not all of them are from the state, but the message was loud and clear: Every position was wide open.

By beating Arkansas 13-10 on Saturday and Alabama outscoring Ole Miss 13-0 to close the game, LSU earned the right as the winners of the SEC West to be in the SEC Championship Game against Georgia.

Initially, the world of perspiring arts was shocked Kelly would leave Notre Dame for LSU and a world he was totally unfamiliar with.

The 61-year-old Kelly had paid his dues and was ready for an opportunity at one of the best programs in America.

It was all about recruiting.

Notre Dame academic standards shut the door on Kelly and any coach who has ever been there.

LSU is a fine academic school too, but it is a state school, not a private one.

The state of Louisiana, per capita, turns out more NFL players than any other state.

Maybe it was the statement about opening the doors to all Louisianans, but Kelly convinced Texas A&M commitment Harold Perkins to change his mind and switch to LSU.

Perkins grew up in Cypress, Texas, but his family moved there from New Orleans when he was a baby because of Hurricane Katrina. Family roots run deep in Cajun country.

Perkins, a true freshman who turned 18 in September, was a one-man wrecking crew on Saturday, and the guy had the flu.

He was a difference-maker. Maybe the Tigers were a little flat on offense after beating Alabama 32-31 in overtime, but the Razorbacks' defense also played its best game of the season.

Now the Tigers are in a position to shake up the College Football Playoffs.

If LSU, which has two losses, beats a previously undefeated Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, would the Tigers make the playoffs over a one-loss Ohio State or Michigan?

Since the start of the CFP for the 2014 season, there has never been a final four that didn't include the SEC.

All the Tigers have left is Alabama-Birmingham and Texas A&M, which appears to have pooch kicked its season.

Normally Georgia has a homefield advantage in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta, but the Tiger faithful will turn that tide -- no pun intended -- in a heartbeat. There may not be enough beer and bourbon in Georgia that weekend.

In his first season, LSU fans have finally embraced their Yankee coach, and all is forgiven about the fake accent. He will stay the king as long as he wins and wins big.

Going on his resume and record he knows it starts with recruiting.

Seven transfers started on Saturday, and there will be more on the way. Just like with 5-star recruit Perkins, those are coming home to Baton Rouge, too.

Print Headline: Kelly embraced by LSU fans in first season


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