Rising through the college coaching ranks can take years of grinding as an assistant until you finally land your first head coaching job. According to current Jets head coach Robert Saleh, his time as a graduate assistant at Central Michigan was no different but something that was different was some of the things outside of coaching that he had to do.
Newly named LSU head coach Brian Kelly used to be the coach at Central Michigan and both Saleh and LaFleur received an invite to Kelly’s party, but not as a guest, but rather as workers. Shortly after arriving, Kelly put them to work making them shovel snow and park and retrieve cars for his actual guests throughout the evening.
The story was brought up to Saleh during a press conference and he says the story has been overblown and seemingly took the high road by praising Kelly and even admitting to wanting to work with him once he was hired at Notre Dame.
“I feel terrible because that whole thing was taken out of context,” Saleh said Wednesday morning. “When you’re coming up in this profession, part of that article was to tell a funny story of Matt and I as GAs. Part of being a GA — every single coach in this profession, there’s a rite of passage when you’re a GA, a [quality control coach], and that was a funny story and not an indictment on how Brian treated us. Brian’s a phenomenal man.”
When the story originally dropped in 2019, Saleh said he made a pact with Matt LaFleur that they would never treat people in the same manner Kelly treated them as young assistants.
“We decided that when we’re in that position, we’re never going to treat people the way we got treated,” Saleh said in 2019.
There would be little to gain for Saleh or LaFleur if they bashed Kelly. Now that Kelly is heading to Baton Rouge, it will be interesting to see if any of his assistants will follow him. One of his top assistant coaches, Marcus Freeman has decided to decline Kelly’s offer to be a top paid assistant at LSU and take over at Notre Dame. Offensive coordinator Tommy Reiss will also stay in South Bend as the offensive coordinator. This may be the first domino to fall, but if more assistants decide to stay, that is very telling of Kelly’s character.
Flip the page for Kelly’s LSU press conference.