LSU’s Brian Kelly on releasing bald eagle: ‘If (Kim) Mulkey does it, I have to do it’

LSU women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey is a trendsetter.

That’s been well-known and documented throughout Mulkey’s coaching career, including in Baton Rouge, through her outlandish outfits, most notably her pink flower jacket that she wore in last year’s Final Four.

Jan 1, 2024; Tampa, FL, USA; LSU Tigers head coach Brian Kelly holds up the Reliaquest Championship Trophy after the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at the Reliaquest Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Pendleton, Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 9, 2023; New York, New York, USA; Jayden Daniels poses with LSU coach Brian Kelly after winning the Heisman Trophy in the Astor ballroom at the New York Marriott Marquis. Mandatory Credit: Todd Van Emst/Heisman Trust/Pool-USA TODAY Sports
Todd Van Emst, Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

But the two-time national champion coach can also convince a two-time AP Football Coach of the Year selection in Tigers football coach Brian Kelly to release a bald eagle.

The LSU coach was asked about his experience from earlier this month during his appearance on the SEC Network’s ‘The Paul Finebaum Show’ Thursday.

“Yeah so I’m releasing a bald eagle that was injured and our vet school nursed it back to health. They do a great job obviously in terms of their interaction with wildlife throughout the state of Louisiana. My daughter happens to be a graduate assistant there and she’s actually taking the picture in the background there,” Kelly said.

“But look, it started withKim Mulkey doing it and if Mulkey does it, I have to do it. Because she sets the trend around here and I can’t wear purple sequin jackets, so I figured if I let a bald eagle go I’d be in the same club as she was.”

As noted in USA TODAY Network’s LSU Wire, the bald eagle arrived at LSU’s vet school in October appearing to be dehydrated with an injury to its left wing. And after three months of care and a full recovery, it was released about a mile away from Tiger Stadium along the Mississippi River with the help of Kelly.

The LSU video department documented Kelly’s experience from opening the door to the cage to encouraging the eagle out by saying “Come on out” after it showed some early destination.

“Right on campus, the @LSUVetMed program does incredible work. Thanks for letting me be part of the bald eagle release back into the wild!,” Kelly wrote on his Twitter following the release.

As for Mulkey, she released a bald eagle herself back on Jan. 13 of last year and called it a “bucket-like” experience.

“It was the neatest,” Mulkey said in a press conference last January. “I didn’t have it on my bucket list, but it was just almost like a bucket list moment.”


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