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College Football

In a stunning move, LSU poaches Brian Kelly from Notre Dame to fill coaching vacancy

Brian Kelly became the winningest coach in Notre Dame history earlier this season, surpassing Knute Rockne.Jed Jacobsohn/Associated Press

LSU is hiring Brian Kelly away from Notre Dame, a stunning move by one of the most accomplished coaches in college football jumping from the sport’s most storied program to an Southeastern Conference powerhouse.

A person familiar with the decision told the Associated Press Monday night that Kelly was leaving Notre Dame for LSU. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because neither school was prepared to make an official announcement.

It was the second bombshell in college football in as many days, coming a little more than 24 hours after Southern California lured Lincoln Riley away from Oklahoma. LSU might have topped it by landing Kelly.

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Kelly, 60, became the winningest coach in Notre Dame history earlier this season, surpassing Knute Rockne. In 12 seasons with the Fighting Irish, Kelly is 113-40, including the current run of five straight double-digit victory seasons.

Brian Kelly was the winningest coach in Notre Dame history.Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Notre Dame just completed an 11-1 season Saturday and still is in contention to reach the College Football Playoff for the third time in the last four years.

LSU’s coaching search started in October, when it reached an agreement to part ways with coach Ed Orgeron at the end of the season. The change came less than two years after Orgeron led the Tigers to a national championship.

The Tigers finished a 6-6 season Saturday, upsetting Texas A&M at home in Orgeron’s last game.

Riley was one of the hottest commodities in college football over five years, leading the Sooners to three playoff appearances. He was being introduced at roughly the same time when news of the LSU hire began to circulate.

Kelly is agreeing to take over the Tigers just a few weeks after he had publicly dismissed the idea of moving on when asked about possibly being a candidate at USC.

“No. I mean, look, I think Mike Tomlin had the best line, right?” Kelly told reporters, referring to the Pittsburgh Steelers coach. “Unless that fairy godmother comes by with that $250 million check, my wife would want to take a look at it first. I’d have to run it by her.”

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