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BATON ROUGE — This time, it could really happen.
LSU expects to complete the hiring process of Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly as its head coach as early as Tuesday, a source close to the search confirmed on Monday night.
Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel, who broke the story that LSU target Lincoln Riley would leave Oklahoma’s head coaching job for USC on Sunday, first reported the Kelly story on Monday.
For the third time in the last 22 years, LSU will hire a sitting head football coach at a major program, if Kelly indeed comes to Baton Rouge. LSU hired Michigan State coach Nick Saban after the 1999 season, and Oklahoma State coach Les Miles followed him after the 2004 season. Both won national championships.
Kelly, 60, is the same age as Ed Orgeron, who was fired after a 3-3 start this season effective at the end of the regular season, which was Saturday as the Tigers finished 6-6 overall and 3-5 in the SEC two years after a 15-0 national championship season.
LSU athletic director Scott Woodward thought that Riley was LSU bound as recently as last week, the source said, but Riley instead has accepted the USC job.
Kelly is a proven winner and is the most accomplished football coach LSU has ever hired at the time of the hiring. Kelly took the Irish to the College Football Playoff final four last season at 10-1 before losing to eventual national champion Alabama, 31-14. Kelly also took the Irish to the CFP semis in 2018 before a 30-3 loss to eventual national champion Clemson. He also took Notre Dame to the BCS national championship game in the 2012 season before a 42-14 loss to Alabama.
He is the winningest coach in Notre Dame history at 113-40 through 12 seasons. Notre Dame is ranked No. 6 at 11-1 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings. Kelly, an Everett, Massachusetts native, previously was head coach at Grand Valley State (1991-2003), Central Michigan (2004-06) and Cincinnati (2006-09) before going to Notre Dame in 2010.