Sam Spiegelman/SEC Country
LSU offensive line coach Jeff Grimes reportedly left town for the offensive coordinator job at BYU Wednesday. But there's a replacement on the horizon.

Coaching carousel wreaks havoc on LSU’s offensive line

Nick Suss

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New man on the line

Football Scoop reported Wednesday evening that BYU is expected to hire LSU offensive line coach Jeff Grimes as its next offensive coordinator. The move isn’t completely unexpected. Talk of Grimes leaving Baton Rouge for Provo has been circulating for a week or so, and Grimes’ time as BYU’s offensive line coach from 2004-06 made him a natural fit to be the Cougars’ next coordinator.

But losing Grimes affects LSU in more than one way. The most obvious one is recruiting.

The Tigers have four offensive linemen committed for 2018, including top-rated JUCO tackle Badara Traore and Louisiana’s top O-lineman in Cameron Wire. Holding onto those commitments will be huge for LSU, especially given the way LSU’s offensive line depth was ravaged leading into the 2017 season.

On top of this, LSU is going to have to recruit back three of its starting offensive linemen. Center Will Clapp, guard Garrett Brumfield and tackle Toby Weathersby are all draft eligible. Losing a position coach could easily be a swaying factor for any of those three players deciding to stay or go.

Is everything going to break down because of Grimes’ departure? No. Of course not. But LSU has a lot to manage if Grimes leaves. That much is obvious.

All that said …

Less than an hour after the Grimes news broke, Sports Illustrated’s Bruce Feldman reported the Tigers will replace Grimes with Los Angeles Chargers offensive line coach James Cregg.

Cregg has a history with Ed Orgeron. The two worked together from 2009-13 at Tennessee and USC. As defensive line coach at both of those places, Orgeron should be intimately familiar with the way Cregg coaches his linemen. While at USC, Cregg developed future top-10 NFL Draft picks Matt Kalil and Tyron Smith.

With that sort of pedigree, Cregg will arrive at LSU with a reputation as a talented identified and developer of talent. On top of that, Cregg is proving his ability with the Chargers this season. No NFL team has allowed fewer sacks in 2017 than the Chargers’ 15.

Elsewhere in departure news

Grimes wasn’t the only fixture on LSU’s staff to leave Wednesday. The Tigers lost general manager Austin Thomas to Tennessee in the morning, losing a figure who was equal parts recruiting coordinator and front office manager.

Thomas was instrumental in getting freshmen JaCoby Stevens and Jacob Phillips to LSU last season, serving as LSU’s recruiter in place of defensive line coach Pete Jenkins. With Jenkins retiring after this season, the Tigers likely won’t need a person in Thomas’ role to be a primary recruiter anymore. That should make this loss slightly more palatable.

But make no mistake: Thomas departing for Tennessee leaves a huge void in LSU’s personnel. Orgeron relied on Thomas to organize a lot of the team’s recruiting plans. For the next two weeks leading into the early signing period, coordinating plans is going to be a massive task. And it’ll be up to a patchwork group to make it happen.

Will they stay or will they go?

A handful of LSU football players spoke to the media Wednesday about their odds of declaring for the 2018 NFL Draft. In case you missed it, here are their responses:

  • Cornerback Donte Jackson gave a lengthy response, explaining what it’ll take for him to leave early.
  • Offensive tackle Toby Weathersby said he’s undecided and will make the decision after the bowl game.
  • Center Will Clapp thought reporters were asking about a military draft.

In LSU basketball news

The LSU basketball team earned its second top-50 win Wednesday night, defeating Houston 80-77 A block from freshman guard Tremont Waters with less than 10 seconds remaining sealed the win.

Along with the Tigers’ victory against Michigan in Maui, this gives Will Wade’s 6-2 LSU squad two quality nonconference victories. LSU isn’t back to its glory days yet. There’s still some work to do. But this is a win worth celebrating, and a definite step in the right direction.

Just watch this block and try not to be impressed.

Tweet of the day

Redshirting defensive lineman Breiden Fehoko knows what recruits want to hear.

If that’s not a pitch to future athletes, I don’t know what is: Come to LSU, you’ll eat like a king!

Today in made-up holidays

According to the folks at NationalDayCalendar.com, Dec. 14 is “National Alabama Day.”

You know what? We don’t have to celebrate this one. Have a good day, y’all.

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