Some headlines have to be read twice to be believed, and sometimes even that’s not enough. But yes, it’s true: LSU coach Ed Orgeron once pulled a worm out of his mouth to motivate a football team.
Orgeron recounted the tale as a guest on the midday edition of ESPN SportsCenter. He said he borrowed it from Joe Raymond Peace, one of his coaches from his playing days at Northwestern State in the late 1970s.
“One of my prior coaches at Northwestern State, Joe Raymond Peace, gave the speech so I kind of copied it off of him,” Orgeron said. “It was just to fire up the team.”
The speech was a bit like one of Aesop’s Fables in that it was imparting a life lesson — albeit very memorably delivered in this case.
“It was about two guys fishing in Alaska,” Orgeron recalled. “They had to cut a hole to fish. One guy was catching fish. The other one wasn’t. He said, ‘Hey man, we’re using the same bait. Why aren’t I catching fish? What’s the secret?’
“[The other fisherman] said ‘I keep the worms in my mouth to keep them warm before I put them in. I do whatever it takes to feed my family.’
“I said, ‘Whatever it takes to win, we’ll do the same thing.'”
At that point, Orgeron pulled a worm out of his mouth in front of the team.
He didn’t specify exactly when this moment took place, only that it was while he was a graduate assistant. That means it was either the 1984 Northwestern State Demons, 1985 McNeese State Cowboys or 1988 Miami Hurricanes are the candidates for the Orgeron Worm Speech.
“It was kind of different,” was all Orgeron said about having a live worm wriggling in his mouth. “I’m glad I was in my younger age and I don’t have to do that again.”
No doubt the current LSU roster shares the same sentiment.