Ed Orgeron is no longer the interim coach at LSU. He’s now the head coach, formally taking over for Les Miles, per LSU sources.
The school’s two final considerations were O and Houston’s Tom Herman, who’s considered Texas’ top candidate. LSU also reached out to Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher.
Herman's agents informed LSU late Friday that the coach would meet with Texas, sources told SB Nation. LSU officials wanted to meet with Herman “officially” but did not want to engage in a more protracted hiring process.
The announcement was made official later Saturday.
Orgeron took over at LSU at the end of September. He went 5-2 down the stretch, and all five of his wins were LSU blowouts. The Tigers’ two losses were both demoralizing – a 10-0 suffocation at home against Alabama, and a last-second defeat on a goal-line stand against Florida.
It was, though, a successful period of interim leadership. LSU played better for Orgeron than it did for Miles, setting a few school records on offense along the way. And by the time LSU was wrapping up a Thanksgiving win against Texas A&M, his players were chanting his name in the locker room.
Keep Coach O!! You Hear It!!!! pic.twitter.com/v93c01Ii6N— Duke Riley (@1Goal1Dream) November 25, 2016
This is an incredible homecoming
If there’s one thing Orgeron could always do, even as a defensive line coach, it was recruit. Especially in Louisiana.
At Miami, he recruited future Pro Football Hall of Famers like Warren Sapp and Cortez Kennedy.
During Orgeron’s first stint at USC, after being named the recruiting coordinator in 2001, he helped the Trojans to top-five signing classes for three straight years.
When he returned to USC with Lane Kiffin, the school’s first recruiting class ranked No. 3, per the 247Sports Composite. Orgeron ranked as 247Sports’ No. 4 recruiting coach in 2011 and No. 5 in 2013. In 2016 as LSU’s line coach, he ranked No. 22.
Not to mention, Orgeron is a Louisiana native. He played his college ball at LSU, briefly, and Northwestern State in Louisiana, and he started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at NSU.
"99.9 percent of the young men who are born in Louisiana dream of playing for LSU," Orgeron has said about Louisiana, one of the country’s best recruiting states. "We're gonna tap into that inner source, we're gonna get after it, we'll get the best players in the state to play here, and stop certain people from crossing that line!"
This was Orgeron’s second stint as an interim, and we shouldn’t be surprised that he made his players happy
When USC hired Steve Sarkisian instead of Orgeron to permanently replace the fired Kiffin, one Trojan said it felt “like I just lost my father.” His USC players were devastated.
Before his time at LSU and USC, Orgeron was an assistant all over the place and also a failed head coach at Ole Miss from 2005 to 2007. But Orgeron’s a drastically different guy now than he was then. For example:
When he took his first head coaching job at Ole Miss in 2005, he announced that the remnants of David Cutcliffe’s offense would marry a zone-blocking scheme with USC’s two-back system, the result was an overmanaged disaster. Orgeron screamed. Often. At anyone, player or coach, and anywhere, too.
“Now if I need to correct something with a coach, don’t do it on the field. Go back to the office and have a discussion. ‘What can we do here?’ Instead of the way I did it at Ole Miss.”
Expect O to try and upgrade LSU’s offense some more
The bland offense was a longtime fan complaint during the Miles era.
When LSU fired Miles, Orgeron also promoted Steve Ensminger to replace Cam Cameron as the Tigers’ offensive coordinator. Six days later, they set a school record for total yardage in an SEC game, and the offense kept humming against every team that wasn’t Alabama or Florida. (LSU’s non-Bama, non-UF average points total under Orgeron was 43.4. Against Bama and UF, it was five.)
Entering a Friday meeting, Orgeron planned on convincing athletic director Joe Alleva that O could hire an elite OC and potentially retain Ensminger on staff as well, according to an SB Nation source.
Orgeron has worked closely with Kiffin, now the coordinator at rival Alabama, before, and the two remain close friends. The new LSU head coach also knows Sarkisian, another former USC OC who’s on staff at Bama as an analyst.
Will this work?
The idea of promoting Orgeron to the head job full-time has been a divisive one among LSU fans since it was first referenced.
Orgeron has been dismissed for his resume alone – something that we’ve discussed here and will continue to. Hiring him has been called an “emotional” decision, generally in a derisive tone.
But there is an emotional element to this: LSU has a chance to give a native son his dream job. There’s no question that’s a cool thing. There’s also no question that by itself, it’s not a reason to hire a football coach.
I do, however, find it funny when some member of that particular crowd jump to their own hyperbole with talk of Orgeron “embarrassing” LSU or “setting the program back 20 years.”
Orgeron probably offers the highest “floor” of any coaching candidate, due to his recruiting ability and low price tag. Even if he were to immediately revert to what we saw at Ole Miss, he would leave behind a talented roster for a successor, and likely offer an easy way out in terms of finances. Big contracts for Fisher or Tom Herman would leave LSU far more locked in for a certain amount of time due to buyout provisions. That would tie the university’s hands for a time if the program was underperforming, and possibly even limit options in finding a successor.
But the chances that Orgeron would fail on that massive of a scale seem remote to me. I think we’ve seen his plan in action over the last two months, and with more time and resources to implement it fully, it’s a plan that will succeed. And I’m not alone in that thought.
“I think you’ve seen the job he’s done in two months and there’s a lot to like,” said (SI’s Andy) Staples. “Can’t you see him doing it all the time? I don’t see any reason why not.”
I’ve seen it written at a number of places that, were Orgeron to leave LSU, no other major program would consider him for their head coaching position. And it’s true, he wouldn’t fit in anywhere else. But he would here. And he might just be the best choice.