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LSU athletic director Scott Woodward, right, stands with newly-hired coach Brian Kelly during a news conference on Wednesday, December 1, 2021 at the Lawton Room in Tiger Stadium.

LSU athletic director Scott Woodward went after the best resume he could find in his search for LSU's next head coach, he told reporters Wednesday. 

But he won't spill the secrets about when exactly he contacted former Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly or when he found out Kelly was a "go." 

"I'm not going to tell you how the sausage is made. That's trademarked," Woodward said. "I'm never comfortable until they're on the plane. I'm a nervous wreck until then."

Woodward announced Oct. 17 the decision to part ways with LSU coach Ed Orgeron, but Orgeron remained on staff through the final home game last weekend against Texas A&M, leaving Tiger Stadium with a 27-24 victory.

Offensive line coach Brad Davis is expected to coach the Tigers in a bowl game. Woodward said he has not discussed with Kelly what his role, if any, will be for the bowl game. 

LSU's acquisition of Kelly sent a shockwave through college football Monday evening, just a day removed from Lincoln Riley's departure from Oklahoma to USC. Kelly's Fighting Irish are No. 6 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings, and they could sneak into the playoff picture depending on the outcome of several conference championship games this weekend. 

But Woodward persisted, despite the seemingly slim chances of prying away a coach with 12 seasons at Notre Dame, where he held a 113-40 record. What he was looking for was a proven track of sustained success on the field and a commitment to academics.

Two of Kelly's teams have made appearances in the CFP since its inception in 2014. Kelly also took the Fighting Irish to the BCS national championship game after the 2012 season. He's also turned around programs at Grand Valley State, Central Michigan and Cincinnati.

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"Nothing surprises me in this line of work that happens or doesn't happen," Woodward said. "But yeah, am I surprised that a coach of this quality with this kind of resume was available? Heck yeah."

Woodward said the process boiled down to anywhere from eight to 15 candidates, but Kelly was always near the top of the list. It didn't matter where he was from, either.

"That's obvious to me that since I've been really paying close attention, two of the most successful coaches in the SEC had not set foot in the south: Nick Saban and Urban Meyer," Woodward said. "I think it matters less." 

He brushed off his reputation as a big-game hunter, despite having acquired Jimbo Fisher while at Texas A&M after he won a national championship at Florida State, and adding star-studded hires at LSU in Kim Mulkey for women's basketball and Jay Johnson for baseball. 

Sometimes, it doesn't work out. This time, it did.

“I’m too stupid to know better," Woodward said. "I’m serious. Until I get ‘no,’ why not? You don’t know until you ask. I’m not afraid to do that.”

Staff writer Scott Rabalais contributed to this report.

Email Leah Vann at or follow her on Twitter, @LVann_sports.