BATON ROUGE, La. — Not to freak out anyone, but campaign season isn’t over.
No, not that campaign. We’re talking about the one that has Louisiana buzzing: Ed Orgeron’s push to become LSU’s full-time head coach in 2017.
To get it, he needs wins. In that regard, Orgeron already has won over the hearts of a vital demographic. His team.
And let there be no confusion: this is his team now.
The No. 24 Tigers (5-3, 3-2 SEC) may not have an SEC title or College Football Playoff berth to play for anymore, but the idea of holding Orgeron’s fate in their hands is lighting a fire underneath them as they prepare for the season’s final three games.
“I think he’s the best guy for the job. He brought a lot more energy,” said junior defensive lineman Frank Herron. “He’s a Louisiana guy. As he says, we’ve been one team, one heartbeat. I hope we keep that going strong these last three games.”
Like a campaign banner, the “One Team, One Heartbeat” mantra is now plastered front and center in the LSU team room, surely an indicator that higher-ups approve of the job Orgeron is doing so far. You don’t let anyone redecorate if kicking them to the curb is your intention.
— Alex Hickey (@bigahickey) November 3, 2016
Herron is partial to his former position coach, but the love for Orgeron runs deeper than that.
“I told Coach O I’m going to do everything in my willpower to keep everyone on the same track because we all love Coach O,” linebacker Duke Riley said. “I know what he can do for this program in the future. I know what he’ll do for us in these next three games. I know what he can do for Louisiana. Having a Louisiana native, I know how much he cares about us and this program.
“I pray that we keep him.”
Orgeron’s future shouldn’t be that important to Riley, a senior who spent all but the most recent four games of his career playing for Les Miles. But it is.
“He’s different,” Riley said. “You need someone like that to motivate you and get you fired up every day. Make you love the game. Make you have energy, all of that. He’s a big part of the success we’ve been having.”
Maintaining that success will not be easy. Depending on what poll you’re using, all three opponents remaining on LSU’s schedule are ranked. If Orgeron earns the job, you can’t say he didn’t do it the old-fashioned way.
“People recognize it is possibly the toughest back end to a season for any team in America,” said fullback J.D. Moore. “I think that will be kept in mind when evaluating how we play out these games. It’s a challenge, but a great stage if we have success.”
A stage the Tigers are motivated to use to prove that the man they call coach deserves to stick around awhile longer.