It’s that time of the year, better known as the “silly season,” when college football coaches get fired and get hired. Along the way, fans and the know-it-alls, also known as most sports columnists, get mad and get glad or get happy and get sad, or any combination thereof. Insanity reigns supreme.
In Louisiana, or specifically the LSU community, our eyes and minds since the latter part of September have been focused on who will be hired at the end of the season to coach the Bayou Bengals in light of Les Miles’ dismissal following the debacle on The Plains at Auburn. Ed Orgeron, the defensive line coach, was tapped to serve as interim head coach when Miles was fired.
On Orgeron’s watch, the Tigers won five ball games in rather impressive fashion and dropped two including a gut-wrenching loss to arch-rival Alabama and a turnover-plagued let down against Florida. For all practical purposes, though, Orgeron’s stint as the interim head coach was successful.
When athletic director Joe Alleva turned to Orgeron to lead the Tigers for the remainder of the 2016 season, he clearly stated Orgeron’s tenure would be treated as a dress rehearsal, so to speak. In other words, if Orgeron’s Tigers performed well and won every single game on the rest of the schedule except maybe the Alabama contest, he would be considered for the job on a permanent basis. Alleva didn’t put those demands on the table, but they were there.
Yet, in spite of what Orgeron might accomplish, most reasonable Tiger fans anticipated LSU would engage in a national search for a top-flight head coach who possibly had a national championship already under his belt. Many eyes were fixated on Jimbo Fisher, the head coach at Florida State. After all, it was Fisher who LSU officials supposedly were poised to hire last fall when Miles was about to be shown the door. Only a last-minute intervention courtesy of LSU President F. King Alexander saved Miles’ hide for the time being and squashed any deal that may or may not have been agreed to between Fisher and LSU.
Fast forward to this past week, Thanksgiving night to be exact, when the Tigers were handing Texas A&M a beat-down for the ages, word leaked that LSU had reached an agreement to hire Tom Herman away from the University of Houston to serve as head coach of the Fighting Tigers. Alleva denied it almost immediately, and Herman played dumb when he was asked about it prior to Houston’s loss to Memphis on Friday.
So, in the spirit of the “silly season,” word quickly spread that LSU had turned its attention toward hiring Herman because Fisher’s demands to leave Florida State for LSU had reached the laughable level. Supposedly, LSU offered Fisher $6.8 million per year plus a seven-figure housing allowance and so on and so on. Again, that’s what the rumor mill was spreading.
And supposedly LSU was on the cusp of reaching an agreement with Herman when Herman’s agent informed Alleva that his client wanted to talk to the University of Texas about its job opening before agreeing to take the LSU job. According to the rumor mill, Alleva lost his cool and cut off all communication with Herman when the Texas wrinkle surfaced.
That supposedly prompted Alleva to circle back to Orgeron who, according to published reports, made one heck of an impression when he interviewed with Alleva and others Friday morning following the big win over Texas A&M.
No, Orgeron hasn’t won a national championship as a head coach somewhere, and yes, his tenure at Ole Miss was less than impressive.
It seems to me, however, that hiring Orgeron, a native of Lafourche Parish, was a positive move. His brief tenure as the head coach was more impressive than not. The ball players apparently love him evidenced by their vocal support for his hiring, and in the seven games Orgeron coached this year, there was an energy about the team that we haven’t witnessed in years. Plus, he’s known as one of the best recruiters in all of college football.
In the meantime, here’s to wishing Ed Orgeron the best of luck and closing the door on the “silly season” for a spell.
Sam Hanna Jr. is publisher of The Ouachita Citizen, and he serves in an editorial/management capacity with The Concordia Sentinel and The Franklin Sun. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org