Brian Kelly’s turnaround at LSU has been impressive since he was hired as the head coach in Baton Rouge just over a year ago.
Inheriting a roster that went 6-7 in 2021, Kelly stunned the college football world with a 10-win season that included an upset win over Alabama that resulted in an SEC West title.
There were low moments, to be sure. A season-opening loss to Florida State in New Orleans was disappointing, as was the two-game losing streak against Texas A&M and Georgia to end the regular season. Still, after a blowout win over Purdue in the Citrus Bowl, things are looking up under Kelly, and ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg gave him a B+ grade in his first season.
2022 record: 10-4 LSU’s 2021 record: 6-7
Previous job: Notre Dame head coach
Midseason grade: B- Grade when hired: A-
The view of Kelly has changed several times since his surprise hiring 13 months ago. But for all the talk about him being an odd/bad fit and a constant meme, Kelly reiterated why he’s one of the nation’s top coaches. He led LSU to a surprising SEC West division title, highlighted by a dramatic win against Alabama, the first at Tiger Stadium since 2010. The season wasn’t totally smooth, as LSU stumbled out of the gate against Florida State, had a historically bad home loss to Tennessee and dropped the regular-season finale to a bad Texas A&M squad. But LSU had more bright spots than blotches, as Jayden Daniels became an effective dual-threat quarterback and freshman Harold Perkins Jr. emerged as a defensive star.
What comes next: Kelly came to LSU to win national championships, and the team must get closer to competing at that level in Year 2. The Tigers return a formidable roster, including Daniels, Perkins and receiver Malik Nabers. LSU secured a group of potential difference-makers in the transfer portal, including Texas A&M cornerback Denver Harris. Greater consistency is needed, starting in the opener against FSU in Orlando.
LSU will lose some talent this season, but much of the core will return. Winning ten games is one thing, and while it is an impressive feat in Year 1, it isn’t the ultimate goal for this program.