Is Brian Kelly Now Under More Pressure to Win?

(Photo via Brynn Anderson/AP)

The LSU athletics program has seen quite a bit of success over the last calendar year. Athletic Director Scott Woodward, who has been in Baton Rouge since 2019, is on perhaps the most successful run of hirings for an AD in the history of collegiate sports.

While that claim sounds crazy at first glance, think about it for a minute. In Woodward’s first major move as Athletic Director, he hired Kim Mulkey to lead the women’s basketball program. In her second season, she led the Lady Tigers to a national championship. In Woodward’s second big move, he hired Jay Johnson to lead the baseball program.

Also in his second year in charge, Johnson just brought LSU a national championship. Woodward’s third move was giving Brian Kelly a record-breaking contract to lure him from Notre Dame down to the Bayou. In Kelly’s first season, the Tigers overachieved and won the SEC West.

Since football season ended, however, Woodward’s first two hires have brought the school titles. It’s worth asking at least, does this put pressure on Brian Kelly to be the next? Nobody really expects LSU to win a championship in 2023, and it would be unfair and unrealistic to do so, but the championship bar has undoubtedly been raised in Baton Rouge.

The fact that Kelly had success, beat Alabama, and won the SEC West in his first season despite low expectations made everyone buy into a hire that many doubted at first. But now, it’s time for the program to take the next step. Exactly what that next step may be remains to be seen, but Kelly is now dealing with expectations in 2023 that he did not face in 2022.

Without a doubt, Brian Kelly is under some pressure to at least replicate the success of 2022. Whether or not he can do that is an entirely different question.