Kelly ’83, HD’12 Named 34th Head Coach of Storied LSU Football Program

Dec. 7, 2021
Office of Communications
Brian Kelly '83, HD'12 and his family in the LSU Tigers Football Stadium.
Photo courtesy of LSU Athletics

Assumption University today congratulated Brian Kelly on being named the next head coach of the Louisiana State University football team. Since graduating from Assumption, Kelly has maintained a close relationship with his alma mater. When serving as a Commencement speaker in 2012, Kelly announced the establishment of a $250,000 endowed scholarship for members of the Football program, which is matched by Assumption for female student-athletes. His generous donation to the Light the Way campaign, of which he serves as honorary chair, was recognized with the naming of the Brian '83 and Paqui Kelly Atrium in the Tsotsis Family Academic Center. The University’s Multi-sport Stadium is named the Brian Kelly ’83 Stadium. 

In 2006, Kelly was inducted into the Assumption Athletics Hall of Fame in recognition of his contributions to the University’s football and softball programs. As a student-athlete, Kelly, who was a middle linebacker, was recognized with all-conference honors in the New England Collegiate Football Conference and set a school record for tackles (314 with 214 assists). 

After his time as a player, Kelly joined the Assumption Football team as a defensive coordinator in the 1980s and also served as head coach of the Softball team. As the Greyhounds Softball coach, Kelly amassed a 64-54 record with two Northeast-10 playoff games and a record 23-wins in that year. 

Following his coaching service at Assumption, Kelly joined the football program at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, MI, where he began as a graduate assistant and defensive secondary coach before being promoted to head coach. In his 13 seasons there, he amassed a 118-35-2 record and earned two national titles. The American Football Coaches Association named him Division II National Coach of the Year in 2002 and 2003. In 2003, Kelly became the head coach of Central Michigan University, where he coached the team to its first winning season in seven years and led the team to the Mid-American Conference Championship and qualifying for the Motor City Bowl. Following the Bowl win, Kelly joined the University of Cincinnati as its head coach, where in three years he amassed a 34-6 record. Under Kelly, the Cincinnati Bearcats had its second-ever 10 win season, won its first-ever Big East Conference title, and were victorious in the Bowl, and made appearances in the Orange Bowl and Sugar Bowl. While at Cincinnati, Kelly won the Big East Coach of the Year three times. 

In 2003 and 2004, Kelly coached in the Hula Bowl, an annual independently administered post-season invitational college football game held in Hawaii. 

As the Dick Corbett Head Football Coach at Notre Dame, a position he has held since 2009, Kelly has twice been named the Associated Press college football Coach of the Year, one of only three coaches to earn this designation. He was first honored in 2012 following an undefeated season and again in 2018 after leading the nationally ranked team to a perfect 12-0 season and an appearance in the new College Football Playoffs. In 2018, Kelly was also named The Home Depot Coach of the Year – the only coach to earn the recognition three times—and was awarded the Dodd Trophy, which, according to the Associated Press, honors “scholarship, leadership, integrity and success on the field” and is given to the nation’s top football coach.

Kelly graduated from Assumption with a B.A. in political science. He and his wife, Paqui, have three children: Patrick, Grace, and Kenzel.