Brian Kelly has exceeded expectations in his first season at LSU, as the Tigers will get set to play for the SEC Championship next month against Georgia.

On the SEC coaches media teleconference on Wednesday, Kelly addressed what realistic expectations were coming into the season, and how the Tigers beat them. Was an SEC West title realistic?

“I think you have to look at the circumstances when you come into any business or organization,” Kelly said. “… The organizational health was such it needed to be rebooted. … In these circumstances, it would not have been a realistic expectation.”

Kelly then shared the accomplishment and deferred to his players.

“Anytime you can overdeliver based on the circumstances reflects well on the young men,” Kelly said. “… We’re playing a number of true freshmen and transfer students we brought in. … The kind of kids they are, the kind of production they’ve given us, has really allowed us to meet and exceed expectations.”

One of his former Notre Dame assistants, Vanderbilt coach Clark Lea, also picked up his first SEC win, and Kelly shared his excitement.

“Really excited for Clark. We stay in touch certainly,” Kelly said. “He had to make some big decisions. Obviously the quarterback situation early in the year. Building a program is hard. You have to stick with your process and he has. They’re starting to see that pay off. The payoff is the smiles and the postgame celebrations. It’s good to seem them get one of those.”