Brian Kelly’s Notre Dame departure dusts off tale of free labor from Matt LaFleur, Robert Saleh

Notre Dame v Virginia Tech
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With Brian Kelly abruptly bolting Notre Dame for LSU, it’s open season on Kelly. As if it’s the first time a college football coach has left his team in a lurch in the name of getting a better job. As if it’s the first time Kelly left his team in a lurch in the name of getting a better job.

As a result, plenty of people are bringing back plenty of anecdotes and criticisms of Kelly. And there are a few of them. From his past habit of purple-faced eruptions at players to the avoidable death of Declan Sullivan to Kelly’s botched homage to John McKay and more, there are plenty of ways for those who are currently upset with Kelly to point a finger.

Here’s one that’s making the rounds on Twitter. It directly relates to a pair of current NFL head coaches, from a story written by Rob Demovsky of when Matt LaFleur became the new coach of the Packers in 2019.

While working as graduate assistants for Kelly at Central Michigan, LaFleur and Jets coach Robert Saleh received invitations to a party at Kelly’s home. When they arrived, they learned that they were invited not to party, but to work.

“We shoveled the snow and parked all the cars,” Saleh said at the time. “Then, at the end of the night, we had to go get the cars again.”

After the evening ended, LaFleur and Saleh made a pact.

“We decided that when we’re in that position, we’re never going to treat people the way we got treated,” Saleh said. “And Matty’s lived up to it.”

Apart from Kelly’s decision to leverage the employer-employee relationship into free labor, Kelly apparently did a good job of spotting and/or developing coaching talent, given that his two unpaid valets and snow shovelers ended up becoming NFL head coaches. Crappy treatment notwithstanding, there’s a chance they learned something from Kelly that helped them get to where they are.

Let’s face it. Plenty of football coaches are assholes. For many, it’s one of the reasons they’re successful. While that doesn’t excuse bad behavior, it’s a reality of the profession and of the sport.

And it’s a basic reality of college football that coaches who have success will want more money and power, either from the school they’re with or from a new one. And they won’t hesitate to employ a double standard the commands loyalty from the players while at all time reserving the right to display none of it.

24 responses to “Brian Kelly’s Notre Dame departure dusts off tale of free labor from Matt LaFleur, Robert Saleh

  1. Kelly is an opportunistic snake. Real dirtbag move when he left UC literally like the day before their bowl game when they were undefeated to take the notre dame job. I’ll never forget that.

  2. yea it’s a ton of money he’ll rake in, but he’ll be exposed playing LSU’s schedule and recruiting in the SEC. so karma will be served for treating people that way,

  3. I don’t think a dollar, or a W entitles you to treat people as you care to and feel justified in it for the sake of the dollar or the W. Just my opinion.

  4. Brian Kelly would get eaten alive as an NFL coach. It’s amazing what college coaches get away with.

  5. Well…..if you are going to talk about Brian Kelly’s assistants that have hit the big time, shouldn’t you also talk about Butch Jones?

    I mean the guy led mighty Arkansas State to a 2-10 record this year. Great job Botch.

  6. Championship mentality is too often linked to sphincter mentality as well. Nothing admirable about that.

  7. From his past habit of purple-faced eruptions at players to the avoidable death of Declan Sullivan….

    The “avoidable death” of poor Declan is putting it way too mildly. Kelly was specifically informed that it too dangerous to have someone in the lift during high winds. Kelly deliberately ignored the warning and put Declan in danger with zero regard for or care about his safety.

  8. How about the coach who wins the NFC North has the loser of the division shovel his snow from January through March

  9. I think Kelly is an excellent example that busts the myth that college coaches “make boys into men”. Yes, the coaches at major schools have a ton of pressure on them, but the idea that screaming and treating people poorly is “leadership” is badly outdated. A jerk is a jerk.

  10. Something tells me LSU will regret this sooner than later. Probably as much as Paul Christ should regret not giving Jack Coen a fair shake coming back from his injury…and in turn saving Kelly this season so he can do what he does.

  11. Robert Saleh is a better coach than Kelly. Kelly intimidates his assistants and he does not respect his coaches or the players. He is known to scream and holler at his players. Kelly has no respect toward his teams. He just leaves them without conclusion. Aweful.

  12. So much of the LSU job is understanding the unique culture of Louisiana, and being able to secure the allegiance of the high school coaches who develop all the talent in this football-rich state. For all of their flaws, both Les Miles and Ed Orgeron (a Louisiana native) understood and embraced the culture, and cultivated good relationships in every corner of the state. Kelly does not seem like he will be able to do that, and that will lead to his quick downfall. I think it is going to get ugly quickly, and LSU will have to admit that they made a very expensive mistake. Plus, he has never truly won a big game against the likes of Bama. Again, both Miles and Orgeron earned their stripes in the regard

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