Ed Orgeron closed out his time as head coach of the LSU football program with an amazing last minute come from behind win against Jimbo Fisher’s Texas A&M team Saturday night.
After a second consecutive season of disappointing play that led to an official parting of ways in the aftermath of the Kentucky beat-down followed up by close losses to Alabama and Arkansas, Orgeron and the Tigers managed to salvage something from 2021 by once again barely avoiding a losing season after having painted themselves in a corner.
I wanted the Tigers to really win this game. That the coaches would be turned out was already a settled matter so a loss would’ve just needlessly hurt the program going forward.
There’s also the schadenfreude of watching the Tigers stick it to Fisher. There’s been a lot of drama between the Tigers and Aggies since he moved from Tallahassee to College Station and as Texas A&M has been tantalizing close to breaking out these past two seasons, a loss to LSU in the same season they upset Bama is the equivalent of dumping mustard on wagyu.
This game will haunt Fisher all the way to the Outback.Bowl or some other less prestigious venue.
But most importantly I wanted the guys on the field to have this.
If you can’t cheer for the coach, at least cheer for the players.
These young men were overmatched and outcoached most of this season. But they made plays happen and competed to the best of their ability and are now eligible to play one more game,
And in addition to the swag bag and for seniors the privilege of wearing purple and gold one last time on the gridiron, maybe a player or two will do something at that bowl game to attract the eye of an NFL scout.
These guys hung in all season and while they’re not the 2019 legendary team, they did a solid for the program by avoiding a losing season.
What LSU fans in the 1990’s would’ve given for one of those under Curley Hallman.
Back to O.
There’s no denying Ed Orgeron had a successful tenure under the stately oaks. Ordinarily you’d think that winning a national title with arguably the greatest college football team in history would buy you at least a half-decade of good will. Or at least to the end of your lucrative contract extension.
But that wasn’t the case.
Firstly I believe it had to do with the circumstances how Orgeron landed his job full-time, as he wasn’t LSU’s first choice. Then-Houston head coach Tom Herman was. But that blew up and a pissed off Joe Alleva kept O, then serving as interim coach.
While the former LSU AD is hardly a beloved figure in the pantheon of Tiger sports, his decision was spot on.
Sometimes you just got to pull the trigger in anger and the results played out apropos for the parties involved: Orgeron landed the dream job for a Bayou Cajun football coach, LSU got a trophy, and Texas got Herman’d.
And the best part was Orgeron’s first big step on the path towards the national championship in the 2019 season came at Herman’s expense in Austin, with no shortage of petty moves by LSU’s hosts.
Hollywood, fate, and Momus (the Greek god of irony) couldn’t produce something like this.
Secondly, Orgeron simply lost the confidence of everyone. Nobody believed that LSU was going to compete for a national title again under Orgeron’s watch. And the precipitous drop off from 2019 didn’t help and underscored the view that O couldn’t build a sustainable championship program.
You throw money at a coach for what you think he can do going forward, not what he did in the past. And unfortunately for Orgeron, rightly or wrongly, too many people saw a dead-end sign.
I’m glad the university opted to stick with Orgeron after the long-overdue Miles sacking and the Herman debacle. Coach O delivered far more dividends than anyone could’ve hoped or anticipated.
Orgeron leaves LSU on better terms than his previous six predecessors and with more to show than all but one.
You could assign pejorative descriptors such as perfidious, incompetent, sociopathic, irresponsible, or opportunistic to succinctly represent in a single word those who paced the west sideline of Death Valley before him, and in at least one case several of the unflattering aforementioned words fit.
Butt not a one could apply to O.
Passionate, loyal, altruistic, sincere and motivated would.
I doubt any other LSU coach treasured more the chance he was given or loved his job more.
And even his most severe critics have to concede that point.
Ed Orgeron will forever be LSU.
Enjoy that hamburger money, Coach O.