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Brian Kelly: "I felt like I did everything I could do at Notre Dame."

After a successful partnership for 12 seasons, Kelly felt it was time to move on from Notre Dame, and Notre Dame felt it was time to move on from him.

Ultimately, it will take some time to properly analyze the Brian Kelly era at Notre Dame.

On the one hand, he won more games than any coach in the school's storied history. On the other, unlike Rockne, and Holtz, and Parseghian, and Leahy, and Devine, he never won a national title. He came close a few times, but was consistently blown out by teams from the South: 42-14 to Alabama in 2012, 30-3 to Clemson in 2018, and 31-14 to Alabama in 2020. 

Still, it says something that he consistently got the Irish to the game's biggest stage. in the post-Lou Holtz era, Notre Dame had become a job that cycled through jobs relatively quickly -- Bob Davie got five years, Tyrone Willingham three, and Charlie Weis five before Kelly stuck around for 12. He could've gone more than that but, as he told Ralph Russo of the Associated Press, the partnership between Kelly and Notre Dame simply ran its course.

“I felt like I did everything that I could at Notre Dame and they felt like they did everything they could for me,” Kelly said. “I felt like we had both got to a point where this is what they could do, right? This is what I did. And we couldn’t get past that. OK? And so here we are.”

Kelly told the AP he asked for a football-specific chef and a new football complex with a dining hall. Notre Dame has had a new football building on the books since 2016, but has yet to break ground for one reason or another.

Notre Dame felt it had given Kelly everything it could give, and Kelly -- propelled by what he'd seen each time his team faced Alabama or Clemson -- felt Notre Dame needed more in order to win national titles. 

So it should come as no surprise that when LSU came with a 10-year, $95 million contract, Kelly accepted.

LSU gives Kelly an opportunity to coach in "the American League East," as he put it. 

“I loved my time at Notre Dame,” Kelly said. “We were on different paths and that’s fine. I’m fine with that.”

And so now we wait. Was Kelly a good coach for Notre Dame? Unquestionably yes. But was a he a great one, on par with Rockne, Parseghian and the like, simply limited by Notre Dame's place in college football's new era? That will depend on how Marcus Freeman and his successors fare. 

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