The seasons change, the sad plot doesn’t. Down by the bayou, the apple of LSU athletic director Joe Alleva’s eye reportedly remains as shiny as ever, with his temptation to lure his Florida State fascination to Baton Rouge just as strong.
What year is this again?
This week, we were transported back to LSU’s loopy days of 2015, when Alleva’s failed chase of Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher resulted in Les Miles’ surprise – albeit short-lived – resurrection. On Tuesday, NOLA.com’s James Smith reported that Alleva prefers Fisher for the Tigers’ open head-coaching job, which should be as much of a shock as learning alcohol flows like the Mississippi River in southeast Louisiana on fall Saturdays. Later in the day, Fisher responded to the news with some wiggle room.
“I’m not going to talk about any jobs,” Fisher told reporters. “I love being at Florida State. I plan on being here, and I’m just getting ready for Syracuse. That’s the last thing I’m going to say on that.”
Did we learn nothing from the past year?
The latest twist in Days of Our Alleva would be funny if it weren’t so unfortunate. If the NOLA.com report is accurate, it shows the fix was in against LSU interim coach Ed Orgeron from the beginning. Shadows in the background are winning over substance on the field.
Sure, it’s easy to understand why Alleva looks at Fisher with the same googly eyes that a teenage boy would have when gazing at a Playboy model.
Fisher is 75-17 in six-plus seasons at Florida State. He has won at least 10 games in five of his campaigns there. There was the national title during the 2013 season. There’s the connection after he served as LSU’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2000 to 2006.
But why must we travel down this pathetic path once more?
Why must we be reminded of how LSU officials turned Death Valley into a dubious three-ring circus one year ago?
The report’s timing is a cruel twist of the knife in Orgeron’s back. He’s prepping for a key game against Florida on Saturday at Tiger Stadium that will help decide the crazy SEC East race. It’s one of his most important tests since breathing life back into the Bayou Bengals after Miles was fired after that disastrous 2-2 start.
The report mentions Orgeron remains a serious candidate for LSU’s head-coaching job. But it’s easy to wonder if he’ll be denied the position even if the Tigers defeat the Gators and Texas A&M to close the regular season with an impressive 8-3 record.
If Fisher is willing to answer the sirens in Baton Rouge with a resounding, “Yes,” then it appears all bets are off.
The good news for Orgeron is that Fisher might realize leaving Florida State would be unwise. In Tallahassee, Fisher has earned valuable capital. In Tallahassee, Fisher can remain a king parked on a self-made throne instead of trying to impress parts of a fan base that hold an inflated view of LSU’s position within college football’s landscape.
In Tallahassee, Fisher can survive a down year like the Seminoles’ current campaign without facing major questions instead of feeding a beast at LSU that would demand results now, 5 minutes ago and yesterday.
Everything about this story is so LSU. The program has become known more for underachievement and off-the-field drama than making Nick Saban sweat in the SEC West.
The Tigers cupboard is full of tantalizing talent, but their trophy case stands too bare.
The program’s next coach, whether it’s Fisher or Orgeron or someone else, must change LSU’s reputation as a paper tiger in the SEC West. Outside of a shutout loss to Alabama, Orgeron has done well to salvage a season that was in full nose-dive mode.
With a strong finish, will his performance be enough for him to earn the job full time?
It should be.
Sadly, Alleva’s eyes might have been focused on an old temptation all along.