Ed Orgeron wanted a Rolls-Royce. Instead, he must settle for a Cadillac.
He coveted a familiar pal and partner. Instead, he must snatch someone new.
He aimed for the stars. Instead, he must set his sights a little lower.
LSU’s coach missed out on Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, who will become Florida Atlantic’s next leader. Kiffin’s choice to bet on himself in Boca Raton represents Orgeron’s first loss in Baton Rouge. The Orgeron-Kiffin pairing would have dazzled and delighted us. Tigers fans could have stood taller.
Now we’ll receive a glimpse of how Orgeron deals with adversity.
Forget facing Florida. Don’t even think about staring down Alabama. Never mind managing other tests with a rough SEC West schedule.
We don’t have to wait until next fall to see how Coach O deals with an “L.” Orgeron’s choice for his offensive coordinator in the post-Kiffin world will shed light on how effective he can be when calling an audible.
If he succeeds, the Kiffin whiff largely will be forgotten. After all, who can blame Orgeron for failing to create a third marriage with the eccentric, emoji-loving assistant coach after previous stops together at Tennessee and Southern Cal? Kiffin’s choice to become Florida Atlantic’s coach reveals how serious he was about becoming a head coach again following a three-season stint in Nick Saban’s boot camp.
Give Orgeron credit for swinging for the fences. Turns out, he only reached the warning track.
But if LSU’s offense resembles a Hummer stuck in mud next season, it will be easy to wonder, “What if?”
How could we not? It was simple to imagine Kiffin bringing offensive life to Death Valley in short order. Many words have been spilled about Alabama’s dominance in recent years. But Kiffin deserves credit for shaping the Crimson Tide’s offense into a destructive force that helped deliver three consecutive SEC titles and one national championship. He was responsible for punishing power and fantastic finesse, creative innovations and a deft touch that tortured defenses time and time again.
After Kiffin missed out on head-coaching opportunities at Houston and USF, he remained dangling before Orgeron like a diamond on a string, available to be pocketed. Unfortunately for LSU, Kiffin could be remembered as the one that got away.
“Very grateful to Coach (Nick) Saban,” Kiffin said during his introductory news conference at Florida Atlantic on Tuesday. “My phone was not ringing much after getting let go by USC. That was a very humbling experience.”
Now Orgeron has been humbled a bit.
Yes, Coach O has options. There’s Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Matt Canada, whose stock has soared of late.
Yet the choice will be known as, “Not Kiffin.”
Orgeron can’t get this wrong. Too much rides on LSU having a competent offense next year as the Tigers’ new coach tries to push his program toward dethroning Alabama in the SEC West. LSU finished 10th in the SEC during the regular season in both scoring offense (28.3 points per game) and in total offense (425.7 yards per game). The Tigers wasted three seasons with star running back Leonard Fournette, who’s bound for the NFL Draft. LSU’s offense must be better than average in a hurry.
Everything that follows will be on Orgeron. Life is a collection of adjustments. Best-laid plans aren’t always realized. Best-case scenarios don’t always play out. Adaptation is a reality. The most successful among us in any field learn to roll with the punches and thrive.
That’s the challenge facing Orgeron as Kiffin begins anew in south Florida. LSU’s coach must succeed with his choice as offensive coordinator, a crucial key in potentially solving the Tigers’ aggravating inconsistency.
Orgeron wanted an old friend. Instead, he must hire a future star.