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Brian Kelly Perfected The Art Of Being A Phony, So You Don’t Have To

“People can tell when you are bending over backwards to pretend to be something you really are not.”

Demetri Ravanos

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USA Today Sports

Brian Kelly and I have something in common. We are both lifelong Southerners. The only difference is I have been a lifelong Southerner for a little over 40 years. Kelly has been one for about four days.

He was named the new head football coach at Louisiana State University on Monday night. By Thursday evening, the Everett, MA native, who had never spent a day living south of Cincinnati, OH, developed a Southern accent.

The internet has zeroed in on “fah-mlee,” but personally, I can’t decide if my favorite pronunciation is “thay-kyew,” “starrded,” or “Loo-wee-zee-anna.”

This is what I want to write about today, because brother, there is a lesson here. Just look around social media. Pay attention to the coverage of the man’s first appearance in Baton Rouge. Everyone is pointing out just how pathetic Brian Kelly looks in this moment.

Let this be a lesson. The public can spot a phony from a mile away. Brian Kelly doesn’t look like an asshole because his entire understanding of the Southern dialect comes from Forest Gump. He looks like an asshole because it is clearly a desperate and incensere cry to be loved.

People can tell when you are bending over backwards to pretend to be something you really are not. It is a mistake that too many people make when showing up in a new market.

Jason Barrett told me a great story about bringing in a talent to audition for a role on air in Philadelphia. He told the guy before going on air not to discuss the roadways or cheesesteaks. There is no win for an outsider to bring them up. Later that day, the guy on air tried to sell the audience on how much he loved Geno’s while describing the atmosphere at Pat’s. After the show, JB had to tell the guy the audition was over. He had already lost credibility with locals.

Forget what you know about Saints fandom. Louisiana’s first love is the LSU Tigers. As long as Brian Kelly wins, they will eventually embrace him. Right now though, the guy is the butt of everyone’s jokes.

When you get yourself caught pretending to be something you aren’t, you’re going have a hard time bouncing back. You don’t have a football team you can take to a College Football Playoff to change people’s minds. It’s most likely that the audience won’t give you a chance to redeem yourself if they decide you are a phony.

Being a punchline is the best case scenario really. People can have fun with a punchline and eventually, they will get sick of making the joke.

Sometimes the consequences can be much worse. The audience can be so put off by a single moment that they never give you another chance. Seriously, think about Steve Rannazzisi. Remember him?

Rannazzisi was a comedian and actor. His star was on the rise thanks to his role in the FX show The League. In 2015, he was busted in a lie that he had been telling for years. He had to admit that he made up a story about escaping the World Trade Center on 9/11.

All the work he had done was irrelevant. None of the fans he had made were stepping up to support him. One lie turned the guy into a pariah. Many of the same people that were first in line to get into a comedy club Rannazzisi was playing just months earlier were now telling the world how much they hated him.

Comedy Central to Air Steve Rannazzisi's Special – The Hollywood Reporter
Courtesy: Rich Fury/Invision/AP

The guy is a phony and he made his most dedicated fans look like idiots. That, for some, is an unforgivable sin.

Being a phony also puts your team in a bad position. LSU players are going to be asked about their new coach’s Southern accent. What are they supposed to say? If they try and cover for Brian Kelly, they look like fools. If they say “yeah, wasn’t that ridiculous?” Kelly may cut their playing time. What is his new boss supposed to say? The athletic director doesn’t want fans to turn on him, so he cannot say that Kelly looked stupid, but he also doesn’t want to look like a rube himself.

If you get caught on air pretending to be something you aren’t or speaking on teams and games you have no real knowledge of, the people around you will suffer. They have to decide if they are going to cover for you and risk their own reputations or are they going to cut you out of the conversation and do the show at half strength? There is no obvious win. The PD that hired you is in the same boat.

One of the most shortsighted decisions you make when going overboard in trying to create a false narrative about yourself is that you can’t even say for sure if you wouldn’t have been embraced for who you really are.

Do you know how head over heels Louisiana would have been for Brian Kelly if he had gone on a tour of the state sampling jambalaya and riding on air boats? There are so many Cajuns that would love to teach a yankee to pronounce parish names like Tangipahoa and Plaquemines.

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Courtesy: Jimmy Emerson

It’s the same with talent arriving in new markets. Let the listeners tell you where the best pizza is. Laugh at yourself and let others laugh at you when you mispronounce a street name. Make an effort to learn from and correct your mistakes, but part of embracing the market is making it clear you want to fit in better.

Finally, you have to remember who all can get caught up in a single lie. The second you give the audience a reason to think you are a phony, you have made things harder not only on yourself, but on your colleagues and the brand you represent.

Saturday morning on College GameDay, Kirk Herbstreit addressed the video of Brian Kelly morphing into Foghorn Leghorn and noted how unfortunate it is that it had become the headline surrounding LSU’s football program.

“We’re losing focus on what happened,” he said. “What happened is LSU hired a great football coach.”

That is partially true. LSU did hire a coach with a very good win/loss record and a good track record of creating long-term success. They also hired a guy that clearly thinks his new fans are a bunch of dumb hicks.

If LSU boosters thought a guy with an authentic Cajun accent reflected poorly on them, how do they think Brian Kelly grabbing a microphone and pretending that he is Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel looks? Speaking as a fan of one of LSU’s most hated rivals, I found Ed Orgeron’s unapologetic yaw-yaw-yawing charming. Not dumb, but genuinley charming. I find Brian Kelly pretending he suddenly developed a twang kind of patronizing. That makes it so much easier to make fun of LSU fans.

Maybe Brian Kelly will be great at LSU. Maybe he will be the fourth consecutive football coach to bring a national championship to Baton Rouge. If he does that, he will be seen as a great coach and LSU will cement itself amongst the truly great jobs in college football. Right now, the guy looks like a dork desperate for love and LSU looks dumb for having faith in him.

Barrett Blogs

BSM’s Black Friday SALE on BSM Summit Tickets is Underway!

Jason Barrett

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Each year I’m asked if there are ways to save money on tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit. I always answer yes but not everyone takes advantage of it. For those interested in doing so, here’s your shot.

For TODAY ONLY, individual tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit are reduced by $50.00. Two ticket and four ticket packages are also lowered at $50 per ticket. To secure your seat at a discounted price, just log on to BSMSummit.com. This sale ends tonight at 11:59pm ET.

If you’re flying to Los Angeles for the event, be sure to reserve your hotel room. Our hotel partner this year is the USC Hotel. It’s walking distance of our venue. Full details on hotel rooms can also be found via the conference website.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: What Does The Return of Bob Iger Mean to ESPN?

Demetri Ravanos

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Demetri Ravanos has questions about Disney going back to the future with Bob Iger. This entire episode of Media Noise is all about what the change at the top of the Walt Disney Company indicates about the future of ESPN.

ITunes: https://buff.ly/3PjJWpO

Spotify: https://buff.ly/3AVwa90

iHeart: https://buff.ly/3cbINCp

Google: https://buff.ly/3PbgHWx

Amazon: https://buff.ly/3cbIOpX

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: What Is Realistic For FOX at the World Cup?

Demetri Ravanos

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On this special holiday edition of Media Noise, Demetri Ravanos dives into the controversy and criticism surrounding FOX’s coverage of the World Cup in Qatar.

ITunes: https://buff.ly/3PjJWpO

Spotify: https://buff.ly/3AVwa90

iHeart: https://buff.ly/3cbINCp

Google: https://buff.ly/3PbgHWx

Amazon: https://buff.ly/3cbIOpX

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