Ed Orgeron Did a Poor Job at LSU the Last 2 Years
Bringing a Heisman Trophy and a National Championship to your university extends your goodwill only so far. LSU head coach Ed Orgeron has coached 17 games since his Tigers beat Clemson for the National Championship. By the time he coaches his 18th, he knows he’s gone.
Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow left for the NFL. LSU dropped to .500 in last year’s weird COVID shortened season. And now seven games into a rather ho-hum 2021, it has been decided that Orgeron will not return to Baton Rouge in 2022.
Athletic director Scott Woodward made the announcement in a letter:
“I write to you today to let you know that LSU Head Football Coach Ed Orgeron will not be returning for the 2022 season, concluding his tenure with the Tigers upon the completion of the 2021 season.
“From my first day as LSU’s Director of Athletics in 2019, Coach O and I have maintained an open and consistent dialogue regarding the state of LSU football. His passion and pride for our football team and for our state are unrivaled and undeniable, and, even when faced with this difficult news, he still wants what is best for the Tigers.”
The timing is odd, with the announcement coming on Sunday, a day after LSU beat Florida, its best win of the season. Although the week before LSU lost to Kentucky by three touchdowns, and the week before that the Tigers were beaten at home by Auburn. The losses reinforced their lack of any chance to make a run at a national title, and they have since fallen off the NCAAF championship odds board.
Along with Burrow leaving in the 2020 NFL Draft, LSU had a record-tying 14 players overall to get selected in that draft. Plus his passing game coordinator, Joe Brady, became the offensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers, and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda took the head coaching position at Baylor.
Coach O’s recruiting classes have both been ranked in the top five since that 2019 team lost so many of its players, but the results on the field haven’t come.
This Saturday, the Tigers travel to Mississippi to take on the Rebels, where LSU is listed as ten-point underdogs on NCAAF point spread odds’ boards posted by the sportsbook.
Split Less About Orgeron, More About Athletic Director
As athletic director Scott Woodward said in his letter to the Tigers fans and alumni, Coach O came to LSU before he did. Woodward arrived in 2019, and always wanted to have his own coach at the head of the university’s marquee program. But he couldn’t make a change right after the team won a national title.
And why he made the change now is because there was a very real fear that following the LSU win over Florida, the team might rally for multiple victories, and leave Woodward stuck for another season. The decision to part ways now prevents any preemption of his plan to get his own coach.
LSU Head Coaching Candidates for 2022
The first name on everyone’s list of potential coaches is Jimbo Fisher. He does have a very high-paying job at Texas A&M at the moment, but it was Woodward who gave him that job and signed him to a contract that costs Fisher nothing to leave.
He’s worked with Woodward at multiple stops and the two have been friends for years. Plus, LSU was paying Coach O an annual salary of $9 million. Woodward can easily justify a big enough contract to compete with what Fisher is making right now.
On November 27 the Aggies will play in Baton Rouge, and you can be certain that every single media person in attendance will have a “Fisher to Coach LSU” story ready to publish.
The current head coach at Penn State, James Franklin is expected to make a strong run at the open job at USC. LSU could also get into the mix, and turn Franklin’s next stop into a bidding war.
After taking Vanderbilt to three straight bowl games, Franklin has won 11 games at Penn State in three different seasons and finished in the top-10 all three times.
Woodward likes to hire big-name head coaches, so this is the less sexy of his possible hires. But Aranda was a steady presence on LSU’s national championship-winning coaching staff in 2019.
His defense didn’t crack the top-20 that year, but they were terrific earlier in his tenure (fifth nationally in 2016) and as the head coach at Baylor, he has the Bears at 6-1 to begin this season.