LSU stick­ing with Org­eron at helm

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Brett Mar­tel

LSU is stick­ing with Ed Org­eron, giv­ing the in­terim foot­ball coach his dream job on a per­ma­nent ba­sis.

The an­nounce­ment by ath­letic di­rec­tor Joe All­eva on Satur­day comes two days af­ter the No. 25 Tigers de­feated No. 22 Texas A&M 54-39. Fol­low­ing Thurs­day night’s game, chants of “Keep coach O” could be heard from LSU’s locker room.

All­eva said LSU knows Org­eron’s heart is with LSU and “his strengths are go­ing to be tremen­dous” at the school.

Org­eron has gone 5-2 since tak­ing over for Les Miles, who was fired in late Septem­ber af­ter LSU started 2-2. LSU’s two losses since Org­eron was pro­moted came against No. 1 Alabama and 13 Florida, the South­east­ern Con­fer­ence East Di­vi­sion champion.

It was the se­cond win­ning in­terim stint at a ma­jor pro­gram for Org­eron, a 55-year-old Louisianan who went 6-2 at USC af­ter Lane Kif­fin was fired in 2013.

Now Org­eron has his se­cond full-time head coach­ing job at the Di­vi­sion I, FBS level. The first also was in the SEC — at Mis­sis­sippi from 2005 to 2007. But he never had a win­ning sea­son with the Rebels, go­ing 10-25.

“My plan is to take my time and assem­ble the best staff in Amer­ica,” Org­eron said, adding that de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Dave Aranda has com­mit­ted to re­main­ing at LSU.

On the other side of the ball, Org­eron said he ex­pects to lure an elite of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor who will be adept at run­ning a spread of­fense, which he sees as a re­quire­ment in the modern col­lege game. He de­clined to men­tion can­di­dates, even when specif­i­cally asked about Kif­fen, an old friend who is cur­rently the of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor at Alabama.

Since then, how­ever, he has gone 11-4 in two in­terim posts com­bined and now that he has the LSU job on a per­ma­nent ba­sis he will pre­pare the Tigers for a bowl game that has yet to be de­ter­mined.

Org­eron’s pop­u­lar­ity among fans was in­stant and ev­i­dent from his first walk into Tiger Sta­dium af­ter he’d re­ceived the in­terim job. He’s been a house­hold name in his home state for decades, and his grass-roots sup­port was hardly un­ex­pected.

“We’re proud to be a part of Louisiana and we un­der­stand LSU, what it means,” Org­eron said. “This is a great day in my life, ob­vi­ously, but it’s not about me.”

It is about his home state and its 123-year-old flag­ship col­lege foot­ball pro­gram. Mo­ments af­ter he ut­tered those words, he be­gan to thank his par­ents, and had to pause briefly to keep from sob­bing.

Org­eron was re­cruited to play for LSU af­ter win­ning a state cham­pi­onship at South Lafourche High School, where he was team­mates with quar­ter­back Bobby Hebert, who would go on to an NFL ca­reer, no­tably with the New Or­leans Saints. Af­ter ini­tially sign­ing with the Tigers, how­ever, Org­eron de­cided to play at North­west­ern State with Hebert.

He has coached as an assistant, of­ten serv­ing as a de­fen­sive line coach and lead­ing re­cruiter, with sev­eral ma­jor pro­grams, in­clud­ing Mi­ami, Syra­cuse and Tennessee. He also spent a sea­son as a de­fen­sive line coach with the Saints.

Org­eron ar­rived at LSU as a de­fen­sive line coach un­der Miles in 2015. As the in­terim at LSU this sea­son, he be­gan with three lop­sided vic­to­ries, which el­e­vated him into a le­git­i­mate can­di­date to keep the job.

Play­ers be­gan tout­ing his cre­den­tials, and their calls built to a crescendo Thurs­day night. They posted videos on so­cial me­dia of a locker-room cel­e­bra­tion fol­low­ing the big win over Texas A&M to cap the reg­u­lar sea­son. In in­ter­views af­ter the game, play­ers re­newed their calls to keep Org­eron.

Org­eron was sim­i­larly adored by play­ers dur­ing his stint at USC, but the Tro­jans hired then-Wash­ing­ton coach Steve Sark­isian, who has since been fired.

LSU viewed USC’s ex­pe­ri­ence as some­thing of a cau­tion­ary tale. The school also fig­ures to save money be­cause it won’t have to buy out an­other coach’s con­tract. The univer­sity al­ready is pay­ing a $9.6 mil­lion buy­out of Miles be­cause of the fir­ing.

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