Joe Brady sat with his family on the bench, in the confetti, absorbing the denouement of the 30-year-old assistant coach's dream season, when he won a national championship in his first year with LSU.
Going into the weekend, there were expectations that Monday night could be Brady's final game on the LSU staff — and according to a series of reports on Tuesday, it will be.
Brady agreed to be offensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers, ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported, joining former Baylor coach Matt Rhule in his first season as a head coach in the NFL.
No official statements have been released by the Panthers or LSU.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron and other athletic officials were consistent with their message over the past few months: They felt confident in their ability to keep Brady with a new deal, and the decision would be made after LSU's record-breaking season ended.
Orgeron has said that LSU athletic director Scott Woodward came up with a plan early in the season to keep Brady, and when reports stirred linking Brady to other colleges, Orgeron said "we're a step ahead."
LSU may have had a strong case to retain Brady over other college suitors, but a counteroffer against the NFL was going to be a tough sell for the coach who cut his teeth as an offensive assistant with the New Orleans Saints under Sean Payton.
Last week, Brady had agreed to a contract extension with LSU, according to Sports Illustrated, but even the reported three-year deal that would have more than doubled his annual earnings of $410,000 allowed Brady flexibility to leave for an NFL job.
Even LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda's $2.5 million-per-year contract includes a clause that says he doesn't owe the school any liquidated damages if he leaves for the NFL.
Brady was consistently vague when talking about his future.
In a sitdown with The Advocate on Dec. 10, Brady said: "I don't know what the future holds. I think it's, I'd love to be at LSU, and when I say, 'Absolutely,' it's because I absolutely love being there. I don't think of another job. I never have no matter what."
Brady addressed early reports of his being linked to Rhule and Carolina on Saturday, saying "I haven't been contacted by anybody from that standpoint.
"It's kind of crazy because I was asked the same questions the media day right before the SEC Championship," he said. "So it just so happens it comes out all right before media days. So, no, from my standpoint, whether talks are happening with other people, for me, I have no idea."
Brady was one of the main pieces behind LSU's major offensive turnaround in 2019. The first-year assistant helped install a revamped spread offense — in tandem with offensive cooridnator Steve Ensminger — with West Coast and run-pass-option schemes he learned as an offensive assistant with the Saints, and as a graduate assistant at Penn State.
LSU quarterback Joe Burrow thrived in the offense, winning the Heisman Trophy and becoming the program's first quarterback to throw for more than 5,000 yards (5,671) and an NCAA record 60 touchdown passes.
Brady won the Broyles Award, given to the nation's top assistant coach. He was the first to win the award who wasn't a primary offensive or defensive coordinator.
Brady signed a three-year contract Feb. 3 with LSU. The deal was on track to pay him $410,000 per year in his first year, $435,000 in his second and $460,000 in his final season until the contract expires March 31, 2022.
With Brady's departure, Orgeron will be tasked with reconstructing his offensive staff for his program's push for a repeat title in 2020.
It's possible Ensminger takes full rein of the offense next season. In May, the 61-year-old Baton Rouge native signed a two-year, $800,000-per-year contract with LSU that expires March 31, 2021.
Brady has said often that Ensminger's contributions have either been overlooked.
"This should just say ‘Steve Ensminger,’ ” Brady said when he won the Broyles Trophy. "But if it says ‘Joe Brady,’ it says ‘Joe Brady/Steve Ensminger’ next to it."
But the Ensminger-Brady dynamic in the booth on game day was a cooperative. Ensminger was the play-caller, both coaches have said, and after offensive drives, Brady broke down the previous drive with Burrow while Ensminger prepared the plays for the next drive.
It was a process that allowed LSU to be a "step ahead" during a game.
Will Orgeron seek to maintain that dynamic by replacing Brady with another passing-game coordinator that will coach in a similar role?
LSU analyst Jorge Munoz, a former offensive coordinator at UL, is on staff, and he was respected enough by Burrow that he attended the quarterback's Heisman ceremony in New York.
Munoz has also been included in multiple reports that linked his name to the vacant offensive coordinator position at Oregon.
Brady's departure was a possibility Orgeron and LSU recognized months ago.
"After the season, we have coaches that are gonna get chances to go elsewhere," Orgeron said in November. "But the ones that we want to keep, we’re gonna fight like heck to keep.”