Brian Kelly became the latest major college coach to jump ship on his program on Monday night. It was reported — and later, confirmed — that he would be leaving South Bend for the greener pastures of LSU and the SEC.
Kelly has spent 12 years at Notre Dame and leaves the program as its all-time winningest coach. He passed Knute Rockne for that milestone in September with his 106th win, a 41-13 victory over Wisconsin. He has a 113-40 record overall.
Few expected Kelly to leave Notre Dame. In fact, he became the first coach in over 100 years to leave the Fighting Irish of his own volition to take a job at another school.
That said, when looking at the contract offer Kelly received from LSU compared to what he was being paid at Notre Dame, the move makes a lot more sense and is a lot less shocking.
MORE: Why Brian Kelly is leaving Notre Dame
Brian Kelly contract details
LSU announced that it had signed Brian Kelly to a 10-year contract worth $95 million — plus incentives.
It’s unclear to what the incentives may amount, but they will likely push his contract into the nine-figure range, as reported by Matt Fortuna of The Athletic.
Kelly’s average annual salary will amount to $9.5 million per year, excluding incentives. That ranks as one of the largest college coaching contracts signed thus far this offseason, and it will be interesting to eventually see how Kelly’s deal compares to that of Lincoln Riley.
Fortuna estimates Kelly earned between $7 to 8 million at Notre Dame, with no exact figures available because Notre Dame is a private school and is not required to publicly report his compensation.
BENDER: There’s big pressure for Brian Kelly to win it all at LSU
Highest paid college football coaches
College football coaches have gotten some big paydays in late 2021. Kelly and Riley’s deals are getting all the attention now, but Michigan State coach Mel Tucker signed a deal similar to that of Kelly in terms of average annual value. Here’s who the top-paid college football coaches are right now, according to Sportsnaut.
|1||Lincoln Riley||USC||$10-plus million (estimated)|
|2||Nick Saban||Alabama||$9.8 million|
|T-3||Brian Kelly||LSU||$9.5 million|
|T-3||Mel Tucker||Michigan State||$9.5 million|
|5||David Shaw||Stanford||$8.9 million|
|6||Dabo Swinney||Clemson||$8.4 million|
|7||Jimbo Fisher||Texas A&M||$7.5 million|
|8||Kirby Smart||Georgia||$7.1 million|
|9||James Franklin||Penn State||$7 million|
|10||Ryan Day||Ohio State||$6.6 million|
For now, Riley and Nick Saban are the highest-paid coaches in the NCAA. It’s unclear if Riley’s deal will, in fact, exceed that of Saban, but it seems possible — if not, likely — given the massive offer USC needed to make to lure Riley away from Oklahoma.
BENDER: Top coaching candidates for Notre Dame to replace Kelly