Chelsea Native Brian Kelly Is Named Head Football Coach at LSU

Local college football fans will be turning their allegiances in a southerly direction after former Chelsean Brian Kelly was named as the new head football coach at Louisiana State University (LSU).

Kelly coached for the past 12 seasons at Notre Dame where he became the all-time winningest coach in the Fighting Irish football program. Kelly will be leading the LSU Tigers in the highly competitive Southeastern Conference.

Kelly spent his early childhood years in the city and attended Shurtleff School where his first and second grade teachers were Ms. Monzione and Ms. Vigliotti. Brian has had a lifelong role model in his older brother, Paul, an outstanding student in the accelerated learning program at Shurtleff and a talented all-around athlete. Brian and Paul played baseball in the Chelsea Little League and attended Camp Robie together at the Chelsea YMCA.

The Kelly family was well known and widely admired in the city, especially by their neighbors on Cottage Street. One of the Kelly sons’ closest friends was Larry Novak, a talented musician and son of Murray and Dotty Novak.

Brian’s father, Paul Kelly, served as the Ward 3 representative on the Chelsea Board of Aldermen in the 1960s and 1970s. The Kelly children, Brian, Paul, Kevin, and Kimberley would accompany and assist their popular and charismatic dad on the campaign trail. Mr. Kelly was also a superb, surehanded second baseman and clutch hitter in the Chelsea Municipal Fast Pitch Softball League. Two other Chelsea city officials from that era, Aldermen Billy Palladino and Thomas Fay Jr., were, like Mr. Kelly, regarded as standout players in the league that would large crowds nightly at the old Carter Park.

“The Kellys were a great family and a great neighbor,” recalled Ronald Waxman, who lived in a house across from the Kelly family on Cottage Street. Ronald’s mother, Doris Waxman, served with Mr. Kelly in city government as a member of the Chelsea School Committee.

Brian Kelly has returned to visit Chelsea on occasion. During one visit, he and his brother, Paul, were filmed during a television segment while stopping at the famous bagel shop, Katz Bakery.

Brian Kelly attended St. John’s Prep in Danvers, where he was a linebacker in the Eagles’ football program that was led by head coach Fred Glatz. Kelly went on to play four years of varsity football at Assumption College in Worcester. He was a two-year captain of the Greyhounds. Following his graduation from college in 1983, Kelly was an assistant football coach at Assumption for four years.  He was also coach of the Assumption softball team for four years. The sports stadium at Assumption is named Brian Kelly ’83 stadium. He is an inductee in the Assumption College Hall of Fame.

Noted local writer David O’Connor said he is excited about Brian Kelly taking over the Tigers’ football program.

“As an LSU fan, I am beyond thrilled that Coach Kelly has decided to lead the Tigers,” said O’Connor. “By any measure, he is a fantastic coach, and his proven track record is an ideal match for the high expectations of LSU football and the competition level of the Southeastern Conference. And, of course, as a lifelong Greater Boston resident with family connections to Chelsea, this news is all the more special. It is a great day to be a Tiger fan.”

Following is the press release announcing Brian Kelly’s appointment as the new LSU head football coach:

Three-Time National Coach of the Year Brian Kelly Named LSU Head Football Coach

The search for LSU Football’s next championship head coach is over. 

Brian Kelly, who has more victories than any active coach in major college football, has been hired as the head football coach at LSU, LSU Director of Athletics Scott Woodward announced on Nov. 30.   

Kelly, who will receive a ten-year, $95 million contract, plus incentives, will be formally introduced as the 34th head coach in LSU Football history at a press conference on Wednesday.

The most accomplished hire in program history, Kelly joins LSU – which has won national championships under each of its last three head coaches – with more than 280 career victories in his collegiate head coaching career, the most among active FBS coaches. He is one of only five active FBS coaches who have guided their programs to multiple undefeated regular seasons since 2009, and he has led his teams to the College Football Playoffs in two of the last three seasons. 

“Brian Kelly is the epitome of a winner,” Woodward said. “He has built and sustained success at every program he’s led, from multiple undefeated regular seasons and National Coach of the Year honors to national titles and College Football Playoff berths. His credentials and consistency speak for themselves.

“Most importantly, Coach Kelly’s players and programs exemplify excellence in all aspects of the student-athlete experience – in competition, in the classroom, and throughout the community – and he shares our values and vision for elevating our university and our state. We’re thrilled to welcome him and his family to Baton Rouge, and we are excited to work with him as we add to the championship legacy of LSU Football.”

“I could not be more excited to join a program with the commitment to excellence, rich traditions, and unrivaled pride and passion of LSU Football,” Kelly said. “I am fully committed to recruiting, developing, and graduating elite student-athletes, winning championships, and working together with our administration to make Louisiana proud. Our potential is unlimited, and I cannot wait to call Baton Rouge home.”

In 31 years as a head coach, Kelly has amassed a record of 284-97-2, which ranks him first among all active FBS coaches in career victories, ahead of Alabama’s Nick Saban (272 wins) and North Carolina’s Mack Brown (265 wins). Kelly has only had two teams finish below .500 during his 31-year collegiate career.

For the past 12 years, he has served as the head coach at Notre Dame. He leaves South Bend as the Irish’s all-time winningest coach with 113 victories, moving ahead of legendary Knute Rockne for the top spot in 2021.  His 12-year mark at Notre Dame stands at 113-40, which includes a 54-9 mark over the past five seasons. 

During his Notre Dame career, Kelly led the Irish to the 2012 BCS national title game as well as College Football Playoff appearances in 2018 and 2020. He was named National Coach of the Year by numerous outlets in 2012 and 2018. He’s the only coach to win the Home Depot Coach of the Year Award more than once, and he’s done it three times (2009, 2012, and 2018). 

In 12 seasons at Notre Dame, Kelly’s teams won at least 10 games seven times, including this year, as the Irish are 11-1 and ranked No. 6 in the nation. Notre Dame’s current streak of five straight seasons with double-digit wins includes a 10-3 record in 2017, followed by a 12-1 mark in 2018, 11-2 in 2019 and 10-2 in 2020. 

Individually, Notre Dame players claimed eight consensus All-America honors playing for Kelly, while the Irish had players win nine national awards during that span. Kelly’s Notre Dame teams have produced 53 NFL Draft picks since 2012, including nine in the first round.  

Academically under Kelly, the Irish had eight players earn the prestigious CoSIDA Academic All-America honor, and three were selected as National Football Foundation Scholar-Athletes. As a team, Notre Dame consistently ranked among the nation’s top four in the NCAA’s Graduation Success Rate. 

Prior to joining the Irish, Kelly transformed Cincinnati into a football powerhouse, winning Big East titles in 2008 and 2009. In three years at Cincinnati, the Bearcats won 34 games and appeared in the Orange and Sugar Bowls. In 2007, Kelly led Cincinnati to the school’s first-ever 10-win season with a 10-3 mark and a win in the Bowl. In his final season at Cincinnati, Kelly’s team posted a 12-0 mark and earned a berth to the Sugar Bowl. 

Kelly’s first Division I head coaching position came in 2004 when he took over at Central Michigan. In three years with the Chippewas, Kelly’s teams won 19 games, claimed the Mid-American Conference title in 2006 and appeared in a bowl game for the first time in 12 years. 

Kelly’s first head coaching job came at Division II Grand Valley State in 1991, a position he held for 13 years. He won 118 games at Grand Valley State and led the Lakers to back-to-back national titles in 2002 and 2003. He won 41 games during his final three years in Allendale.

A native of Everett, Mass., Kelly was a four-year letterwinner at linebacker and two-time team captain at Assumption College in Worcester, Mass. He graduated from Assumption in 1983 with a degree in political science. 

Kelly and his wife Paqui have three children – Patrick, Grace and Kenzel. The Kellys are active in community outreach and have established the Kelly Cares Foundation which has donated nearly $5.8 million to support causes related to the fight against breast cancer since its founding in 2008. 

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