Brian Kelly fared well in Year 1 in Baton Rouge. The LSU head coach won the SEC West, taking down Alabama on his way to an SEC Championship appearance in his debut season.
He followed the regular season up with an annihilation of Purdue in the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl, taking down the Boilermakers, 63-7.
While he certainly exceeded expectations at LSU in his first campaign, there was an admitted adjustment period. This was Kelly’s first job in the deep south after spending the majority of his coaching career in the midwest.
He’d held previous head coaching roles at Cincinnati and Notre Dame before making the move to Louisiana.
That departure from South Bend was one full of controversy, as he left the Fighting Irish before the end of the season while Notre Dame was still in College Football Playoff contention.
Seemingly disappearing in the middle of the night for LSU, the change was an instant headline.
Now, though, he’s settled in with his new program. As he gears up for Year 2, he seems more comfortable in the SEC. Brian Kelly sat down with the Bussin’ with the Boys podcast this week to talk about the adjustment, as well as the difference he’s seen coaching in SEC Country.
When asked about adapting to Baton Rouge and the culture at LSU, Kelly said, “It was definitely a change, but it was a great change for me… Notre Dame was a great experience but it’s so much different in reference to the day-to-day. As you can see, I’m more relaxed. I don’t have my tie on today. It’s just a relaxed, comfortable environment.”
He notes three main pillars in the foundation of his new home. People, food, and football.
He also talked about the uptick in competition, saying that he wanted to play in the SEC in order to be compared to the best. He mentions having the chance to compete against Nick Saban and Kirby Smart in Year 1, as well as other great coaches on a weekly basis.
Brian Kelly also talked about the culture in Louisiana, as well as his sporadic southern accent.
He continued on about the culture of the LSU program, stating, “Culture is standards. It’s a way of life. To me, what you had to adapt to here was simply the weather.” He continued on by saying that while the northeast and the south are two very different places, there were some similarities between Louisiana and Cape Cod, where he grew up.
“I grew up on Cape Cod. I love seafood,” Kelly said, insinuating that the move to LSU was almost like a trip back home. “I didn’t get much [seafood] in the midwest.”
Of course, the guys wouldn’t let him leave the interview without talking about another change, which many witnessed following his immediate arrival in Baton Rouge. The famed accent.
I decided to go super investigatory. Here’s Brian Kelly saying “family” two days ago at Notre Dame… and Brian Kelly saying “family” today at LSU. Some of my best work. pic.twitter.com/JTzuIA2s2n
— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) December 3, 2021
When asked if the accent was something he put on to help ease his transition to the South, he replied, “No. Who would do that? That’s the stupidest thing to try and do. Listen, when you have a Boston accent, then you’re in the Midwest, and you go down South, you’re going to be all messed up.”
The accent seems to have subsided a bit, though he appears to be loving living in Louisiana. We’ll see if he can follow up his debut season with another SEC title appearance.