BATON ROUGE, La. — Ed Orgeron isn’t lying. He’s simply found a new truth. And it’s a truth that will end up defining the success or failure of his tenure at LSU.
Orgeron’s mission statement is no longer to find the best offensive coordinator in the country. He’s smart enough to realize that would be a false claim when hiring a coach who hasn’t been a full-time offensive coordinator in the last 20 years.
Now it’s about finding the “best offensive coordinator for LSU.” And he sincerely believes he has that guy in Steve Ensminger.
“I remember my statement — ‘I’m going to go out and find the best offensive coordinator in the country.’ And I did,” Orgeron said of last year’s hire of Matt Canada. “I did all I could to do all the things I promised the fans, while all the while I had Steve Ensminger.
“Things didn’t work out. And then I said, ‘I know the best coordinator for LSU is Steve Ensminger.’ I knew that down in my heart.”
It seems that the head would be more advisable to follow than the heart in this scenario, but Orgeron is sticking with his gut. He clearly regrets feeling the need to make a splash last year with Canada. So much so that he’s retreating into the opposite corner by going with the safest possible choice.
“I did my research,” Orgeron said. “And I still believe that Steve Ensminger is the best choice for LSU.”
That research included passing on USC offensive coordinator Tee Martin. Orgeron said that Martin’s agent reached out to him. Nevertheless, he was not swayed.
“Tee and I are very good friends, and I received a call,” Orgeron said. “Although I do respect Tee and think he’s a very good offensive coordinator and future head coach somewhere, I had my guy.”
Martin’s agent was surely every bit as baffled by this move as the average LSU fan. It is a hardheaded gamble for the sake of harmony. But it’s a gamble that Orgeron views as a sure bet.
“I totally trust Steve and he totally trusts me,” Orgeron said, shedding light onto why Canada is no longer in the building without saying it outright. “Everyone’s pulling on the same page. One team, one heartbeat.”
Ultimately, that phrase is the one that will define Orgeron’s tenure. Not “I’m going to go out and hire the best offensive coordinator in the country,” but “one team, one heartbeat.” Replacing Canada with Ensminger shows that he’s completely dedicated to that philosophy — even at the risk of his own job.