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#pounditWednesday, January 26, 2022

Brian Kelly lied to his final Notre Dame recruit

Brian Kelly in Notre Dame gear

Brian Kelly was still on the road recruiting for Notre Dame right up to the moment that news of his decision to leave for LSU went public. That left the family of the final player he visited as coach of the Fighting Irish with an amazing story.

Tobias Merriweather, a four-star wide receiver from the class of 2022, was the final recruit Kelly visited before the news of the coach’s departure went public. Kelly and three assistants, including offensive coordinator Tommy Rees, traveled to Merriweather’s home in Vancouver, Wash. just hours before the LSU exit came to light.

Merriweather’s father Dom recounted the visit, and how there were multiple signs that something was off when looked at retrospectively. Dom Merriweather told Meg Wochnick of the Columbian that Kelly and his staff arrived an hour earlier than originally planned, and Kelly stepped out at one point to take a 15-minute phone call.

At no point did Kelly even hint that he was considering the LSU job, and none of the Merriweathers had any idea about any rumors. Even after Kelly took the phone call, he returned and stayed for another 90 minutes to eat dinner with the family, and never gave off any indication that anything was in the works.

It was only after Kelly left the home that the Merriweathers became aware that something was up. Tobias Merriweather saw reports about Kelly leaving for LSU as soon as the Notre Dame coaches left his house, and even sent a social media screenshot to the group of assistants.

“They weren’t more than half a mile from our house,” when Tobias received a response, according to Dom Merriweather.

“I showed this to Coach Kelly, and he says, ‘That’s bull (expletive),'” one of the assistants texted back.

Dom Merriweather said the family did not hear from Kelly again from that point on. Tobias Merriweather is still committed to Notre Dame and has been in contact with the remaining assistants, though other schools have reached out after the Kelly news.

The story only furthers the narrative that Kelly handled his departure incredibly poorly. By Kelly’s own retelling, he was certainly negotiating with LSU while this visit was taking place. Kelly also left the rest of the school in the dark about what was happening even as the rumors flew on social media.

A coaching change like this was never going to be straightforward, and there were bound to be hard feelings. Some might have been more forgiving of Kelly if he hadn’t been so adamant about not leaving Notre Dame. Now it just looks like he lied to and misled a lot of people that had trusted him.

Photo: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

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