ESPN analyst Greg McElroy defends LSU head coach Brian Kelly over NIL comments

LSU football now has official kickoff times for its first three games of the 2024 season. PHOTO BY: Jonathan Mailhes

Despite winning 20 games in hist first few seasons at LSU, Brian Kelly still has his doubters at LSU.

Kelly helped lead the Tigers to two straight 10-win seasons and produced a Heisman winner, but heading into year three some fans have questions about Kelly’s leadership of the program. Many people say Kelly needs to win a national championship for his time at LSU to be a success and feel that he wasted Jayden Daniels prolific season with a poor defense.

ESPN analyst Greg McElroy doesn’t agree with any of those points. He recently stood up for Kelly on his “Always College Football” podcast.

“I think Brian Kelly is a really good coach,” McElroy said. “He won a lot of games at Notre Dame when people said it couldn’t be done anymore. He revitalized that program. It became a steady player in the College Football Playoff conversation. Now he takes over at LSU, has won 10 games in consecutive years, has had a Heisman Trophy winner. I don’t really know what there is to be negative about with Brian Kelly. Like, he won 10 games, he has been to the SEC Championship already.”

He agreed that replacing Daniels will be a tall task heading into year three, but McElroy said he doesn’t think LSU and Kelly are in a bad place.

“Yes, he will have to replace Jayden Daniels,” McElroy said. “Yes, I think, personally, (Garrett) Nussmeier is going to be very well-equipped to take over at that position. They have great weapons on the perimeter. Now it’s about figuring things out on the defensive side. If I look back at his teams at Notre Dame, how often was defense a huge liability? It wasn’t. It wasn’t at all. I think he went out and hired a really good defensive coordinator in Blake Baker. As far as the playing field is concerned, I don’t think LSU is in a bad spot whatsoever. They’re going to continue to win. Winning 10 games a year in the SEC is pretty dang hard to do.”

McElroy also addressed some of the criticisms Kelly received over his recent NIL comments. Kelly said he wasn’t into “buying players” and many fans found issues with that. McElroy defended Kelly’s statements and said they were taken out of context.

“I’m assuming that this is a question that kind of revolves around the comments that went viral from Brian Kelly,” McElroy said. “The problem is, if you actually listened to what he said, the comments had no reason to go viral,” McElroy said. “It’s just people are looking for low-hanging fruit and bottom-feeder topics as it relates to NIL and paying players. As it relates to the paying players conversation, which is where I think a lot of the negativity around Brian Kelly this offseason has surrounded him? I listened to his comments, and I don’t get the sense that he is not supportive of NIL. I see the headlines, I see the stories, I see what people are saying – ‘Oh, he’s going to get sued’, ‘Oh, he’s going to do this’, ‘LSU is not in NIL’. Yeah, they are. There are plenty of guys at LSU under Brian Kelly’s leadership that have done really well when it comes to NIL. What he said is he’s not going to be in the business of buying players. I think what that means, the way I interpret it is he is not going to be real excited about bringing in a player that’s number one priority is maximizing his NIL value.”

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Will Nickel

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