Not that you need to hear it again but it’s been one of those kind of seasons in Baton Rouge.
Today we look beyond the individual player performances and closer at just what the heck has happened. As you guessed, it starts with the head coach, now former head coach which led to an interim head coach.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely did you think Les Miles wouldn’t be coaching LSU at this point?
Hickey: 3, and it’s only that high because Bob Knight was fired the first week I was in school at Indiana. Things happen to long-time coaches when I show up.
Spiegelman: 7. To be honest, LSU, the No. 5 team in the AP Preseason Top 25, was expected to not only compete for an SEC championship, but a spot in the College Football Playoff. So I looked at it this way: Miles’ team was good enough to be a contender, but anything short of that would likely cost him his job.
Suss: 3. I always thought Miles would get fired if LSU didn’t win the conference, but I never imagined athletic director Joe Alleva would pull the trigger so soon. Maybe after Ole Miss or Alabama. Definitely not after four games.
Do you think it was the right decision?
Hickey: After seeing LSU play against Missouri, it definitely seems to have been the right move. Wish I could have had a Florida game to give you a more definitive answer, though. Wink.
Spiegelman: I would never advocate for someone losing their job, but Les Miles refused to change, and that refusal led to the university parting ways with a coach after 12 seasons. I think it was a justified move considering LSU’s offensive struggles and failing to win games it could have won against both Wisconsin and Auburn.
Suss: No. I come from the school of thought that the coach is rarely the problem. It’s on the players. And hindsight is 20/20, but LSU’s two losses were to the teams ranked No. 8 and No. 23 in the AP Poll right now. By a combined seven points. As bad as its played, this team is two bounces of a ball away from being undefeated.
What was the biggest factor in his undoing?
Hickey: His insistence on doing things his way, dammit, embodied in the form of Malcolm “Cam” Cameron.
Spiegelman: A stalled offense, plain and simple. From the recruiting side of things, he and Cam Cameron promised a new-look offense to tons of offensive recruits. That offense looked awfully similar to ones that have hindered LSU years before. From a team standpoint, players were expecting a more pass-oriented attack. That never transpired.
Suss: Cam Cameron. Offensive play-calling drove Les Miles out of Baton Rouge. Perhaps Miles had too much faith in Cameron as an offensive coordinator. Whatever it was, the team’s inability to spread the ball under Miles led to him being out of a job.
Can Ed Orgeron walk away from this as LSU head coach in 2017?
Hickey: I think the administration is rooting for Coach O to get this job, because he’s obviously a hit with fans. I wasn’t sure of that at first, but I’m sensing it more now. But he still has to win.
Spiegelman: Sure. Sources within the program have indicated Orgeron will have a chance to be LSU’s coach on a full-time basis if he’s successful in this interim stint. However, let’s not dwell on what happened vs. Missouri. We missed a grand opportunity to see what Orgeron’s team looked like on the road at Florida, but there are ample opportunities with home dates against Ole Miss and Alabama, and a big-time road tilt at Texas A&M.
Suss: Yes. If Orgeron wins two out of four of the games against Ole Miss, Alabama, Arkansas and Texas A&M with one of them being a major upset, he has a shot. If he wins three, the job will likely be his. If he loses to Southern Miss, it’s probably off the table.
If not, who are your three top candidates to replace him?
Hickey: Houston coach Tom Herman: He lived with defensive coordinator Dave Aranda for a semester in college. The city of Houston is a massive pipeline to add on top of Louisiana talent. He led Ohio State’s offense to a title with three different quarterbacks. It’s all too perfect. But keep Tulane off the schedule, maybe, after seeing how things when down for UH against Navy last week.
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher: This is one of the few programs from which you could argue LSU is merely a lateral move. But money, and relationships, could talk in persuading him to leave Tallahassee.
San Francisco 49ers coach Chip Kelly: One year is awfully quick to give up on a job. But if I had the 49ers roster, I’d be giving up.
Spiegelman: There’s Jimbo Fisher, Tom Herman and, to be completely honest, the field. Fisher was the main target in athletic director Joe Alleva’s search last fall, and there are rumblings out of Tallahassee that maybe Fisher would be best suited for relocation. Herman is the hot name on the coaching search, but could be courted by Texas if the Longhorns part ways with Charlie Strong, and that would be an obstruction in LSU’s hunt. The next name in the search is Orgeron or perhaps a promotion to another LSU assistant, but I don’t deem that situation too likely. LSU needs to make a splash with its hire. Anything short of that would be a disappointment.
Suss: Tom Herman is the obvious choice that every fan wants. He’ll be a tough get if Texas and Oregon both decide to throw money at him, but his ability to recruit East Texas would be very useful at LSU and his system has been proven capable of beating Alabama, if only just once.
Dan Mullen. Another Urban Meyer disciple, his time at Mississippi State might be running out, but he’s shown a knack for winning with inferior talent, so only imagine what he could do with Louisiana’s talent base and LSU’s resources. His knowledge of the SEC West is a definite plus.
Larry Fedora. My actual pick for best fit at LSU, Fedora is a fantastic coach who has proven he can win at a small school (Southern Miss, where he went 34-19) and a big school (North Carolina, where he is 36-22). He’s never finished a regular season with a losing record, and the only time his team has missed a bowl in his eight years as a head coach was a year it was ineligible due to the transgressions of a previous regime.