Ed Orgeron has a solid chance to secure the head coaching position at LSU if he and the Bayou Bengals beat visiting rival, No. 1 Alabama, this Saturday. This will be Orgeron’s first major opponent since taking over as interim head coach.
LSU has been through an emotional roller coaster this year. They began as a team with playoff hopes, to firing both head coach Les Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, to now back in competition in the SEC West.
The offense seemed to be one-dimensional during the start of the year under Miles and Cameron. Running back Leonard Fournette, who had Heisman potential, was being over-used and asked to do too much. He shouldered 86 percent of the carries among Tiger running backs in his first three games (did not play against Jacksonville State in week two). This workload contributed to him missing the next two games due to injury.
With Orgeron at the helm, LSU’s offense now has a more balanced run game with Derrius Guice and Fournette splitting the duty —both averaging eight yards per carry — and more efficiency in the passing game from quarterback Danny Etling. The quarterback has completed over 60 percent of his passes to nine different receivers in the past three games. The offense under Orgeron has averaged nearly eight yards per play and over 400 yards of offense.
Why Orgeron gets it
If Orgeron does beat Alabama this weekend, he pretty much satisfies the requirement to become head coach at LSU. Alabama has been the thorn in the side of LSU ever since Nick Saban became head coach for the Tide in 2007. Alabama is 7-3 against LSU during his tenure, and the Tide has rolled in the last five.
There is no better way to erase the horrors of the beginning of the season than knocking off top-ranked Alabama in front of the home crowd.
What you’re getting
Orgeron is a prestigious defensive line coach and recruiter in college football. He became recruiting coordinator for the University of Southern California in 2001, and led the Trojans to top five signing classes for three-straight years from 2002 to 2004. In 2004, Rivals.com and Sporting News named him the National Recruiter of the Year. After which, Orgeron left USC to become head coach at Ole Miss from 2005 to 2007, where he went 10-25 with the Rebels. One could argue Orgeron was not able to bring in a full recruiting class before being fired.
After short stints as a defensive line coach in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints and back to the college game at Tennessee, Orgeron returned to USC along with Lane Kiffin in 2009 to assume his previous duties. ESPN The Magazine named him top recruiter in college football in 2012. And before joining LSU, Orgeron was interim at USC for the final eight games of the 2013 season, compiling a 6-2 record.
Orgeron has the credentials to become a head coach. He and LSU both, have the elite status to complement each other and do well in the SEC. However, the game against Alabama is the measuring stick. LSU athletic director Joe Alleva said earlier in the year, that the rest of the season is considered “an audition” for Orgeron to keep the job full-time. A victory this Saturday would most likely seal the deal.
Edited by Dalton King
Featured image by Neon Tommy, courtesy of creativecommons.org