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What is Brian Kelly’s Net Worth and Salary?

Brian Kelly is a college football coach who has a net worth of $35 million. Brian Kelly serves as the head coach for the Louisiana State University Tigers. His average annual salary at LSU is $9.5 million, thanks to the 10-year, $95 million contract he signed in late 2021. It is the largest public school college football contract in history. Previously, he had head coaching positions at Grand Valley State University, Central Michigan University, the University of Cincinnati, and the University of Notre Dame. Among his many career achievements, Kelly led the Grand Valley State Lakers to consecutive NCAA Division II Championships in 2002 and 2003.

Contracts & Salary

Current Contract (LSU):

  • 10-year, $95 million deal, the largest public-school college football contract in history.
  • Base salary starts at $9 million and increases annually, reaching $10 million in the final year.
  • Bonuses available for bowl game appearances and national championships.
  • Estimated total earnings could exceed $100 million with incentives.

Previous Contracts:

  • Head coach at Notre Dame (2010-2021): Reported annual salary ranging from $5.4 million to $8.1 million.
  • Offensive coordinator at Cincinnati (2006-2009): Estimated annual salary around $500,000.
  • Assistant coach roles in the NFL and various colleges throughout the 1990s and early 2000s.

Early Life and Education

Brian Kelly was born on October 25, 1961 in Everett, Massachusetts and was raised in Chelsea. As a youth, he went to St. John’s Preparatory School in Danvers. For his higher education, Kelly attended Assumption College, where he played college football for four years as a linebacker. After graduating in 1983 with a degree in political science, he stayed at the school as a linebackers coach, defensive coordinator, and softball coach until 1986.

Grand Valley State University

In 1987, Kelly became a graduate assistant and defensive backs coach at Grand Valley State University. A couple years later, he became the defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator, and in 1991 took over as head coach. Kelly remained head coach until 2003. During his tenure, he led the Grand Valley State Lakers to five conference titles and two consecutive NCAA Division II Championships, in 2002 and 2003. In those years, the team went 14-0 and 14-1, respectively. For both years, Kelly was named the AFCA Division II Coach of the Year. He concluded his tenure at Grand Valley State with a record of 118-35-2.

Central Michigan University

Kelly took over as head coach at Central Michigan University in 2004, inheriting a struggling team that only went 4-7 for the season. He turned things around in 2005, leading the Central Michigan Chippewas to their first winning season in seven years, with a 6-5 record. Kelly facilitated even greater improvement in the 2006 season, with the Chippewas going 9-4 en route to winning the MAC Championship and then the Motor City Bowl. After that, he left Central Michigan.

(Photo by Johnnie Izquierdo/Getty Images)

University of Cincinnati

After his tenure at Central Michigan, Kelly became head coach at the University of Cincinnati in late 2006. He immediately assumed the position by coaching the Cincinnati Bearcats to victory in the International Bowl. In his first full season at Cincinnati in 2007, Kelly led the Bearcats to their first 10-win season in nearly 60 years and was named Big East Coach of the Year. He continued his success in 2008 by leading the team to its first-ever Big East title, earning him another Big East Coach of the Year honor. The 2009 season was the best yet, as the Bearcats went undefeated in the regular season and finished with a Sugar Bowl appearance against the Florida Gators. For the third consecutive season, Kelly was named Big East Coach of the Year. He finished his tenure at Cincinnati with a 34-6 record.

University of Notre Dame

In late 2009, Kelly was made the new head coach at the University of Notre Dame. He coached the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to an 8-5 record in his first season in 2010, and led the team to victory in the Sun Bowl. In 2011, the Fighting Irish went 8-4 en route to the Champs Sports Bowl, where they fell to the Florida State Seminoles. Kelly had his best season at Notre Dame in 2012, leading the Fighting Irish to the top of the BCS rankings for the first time in school history. The team finished the regular season undefeated, and advanced to the BCS National Championship Game. Ultimately, they lost to the Alabama Crimson Tide. Kelly earned numerous honors for the season, including AFCA Coach of the Year, AP Coach of the Year, and Walter Camp Coach of the Year. However, in 2014, it was discovered that an athletic trainer had given impermissible help to eight players during both the 2012 and 2013 seasons, forcing the NCAA to eventually vacate all of Notre Dame’s victories in those years.

In 2014, Kelly led the Fighting Irish to an 8-5 record and a win over the LSU Tigers in the Music City Bowl. The next season, the team went 10-3, finishing with a hard-fought loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Fiesta Bowl. In 2016, Notre Dame finished with a 4-8 record, its worst in a decade. Kelly led a turnaround the next season to help the Fighting Irish go 10-3 with a win over the LSU Tigers in the Citrus Bowl. The 2018 season was even better, as Notre Dame went undefeated en route to the Cotton Bowl Classic, which was ultimately won by Clemson. For 2018, Kelly was named AP Coach of the Year and Home Depot Coach of the Year. In the 2019 season, Notre Dame went 11-2, including a win in the Camping World Bowl. The next season, impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, saw Notre Dame joining the ACC and winning all ten of its regular-season games. However, in the ACC Championship Game, the Fighting Irish fell to the Clemson Tigers. Kelly coached his final Notre Dame season in 2021, finishing with an 11-1 record.

Louisiana State University

Kelly was named head coach at Louisiana State University in late 2021. In his first season in 2022, he led the Tigers to a 10-4 record and the SEC West title. The team went on to the Citrus Bowl, defeating the Purdue Boilermakers in a 63-7 blowout. In the process, the Tigers set Citrus Bowl records for points, largest margin of victory, and total offensive yards (594).

Personal Life

With his wife Paqui, Kelly has three children: sons Patrick and Kenzel and daughter Grace. Both sons played football under their father at the University of Notre Dame, while Grace went to Boston College. With his wife, a breast cancer survivor, Kelly started the Kelly Cares Foundation to support cancer awareness and research.

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