We should all pull for Ed Orgeron to become LSU’s coach beyond this year for a simple reason.
Each one of us can see parts of ourselves in his story.
No matter if you bleed Alabama crimson or if you love to go wild in The Grove, no matter if you yell, “Woo Pig!” or if you greet friends with a gator chomp on steamy Saturdays at The Swamp, it’s easy to feel a connection with Orgeron’s humbling, human story. His tale includes failure and recovery, disappointment and career rehabilitation. We should want him to succeed in this stint in Baton Rouge, to give us faith that happy endings are possible.
We enjoy watching greatness reveal itself in captivating ways. But sometimes, dominance feels distant and unattainable for those who witness its wonder.
As fun as it can be to watch the Crimson Tide’s dynasty, it’s hard to associate with Alabama coach Nick Saban swatting aside the competition each season like a giant would treat a flea. As enjoyable as it can be to witness someone at the top of his or her profession display mastery in a public arena, it’s much easier to relate to a person who has stumbled and fallen before taking part in the slow slog to return to a desired destination.
Orgeron’s shortcomings have been revisited often this week as LSU prepares to host Ole Miss on Saturday. The Tigers’ interim coach was awful leading the Rebels from 2005 to 2007, when he posted a 10-25 record as part of a run in which Ole Miss never won more than four games in a single season. After he was fired in November 2007, he served as the New Orleans Saints’ defensive line coach (2008) and Tennessee’s defensive line coach/recruiting coordinator (2009) before landing at Southern Cal as a defensive assistant starting in 2010.
Orgeron appeared to receive a big break in 2013, when the led to Trojans to six victories in eight games as their interim coach after Lane Kiffin was fired. But Steve Sarkisian was named Southern Cal’s coach before the 2014 campaign, leaving Orgeron to look within again before joining LSU’s defensive staff prior to last season.
Since leaving Oxford, Miss., Orgeron’s journey has included heartbreak, personal reinvention and frustrating false hope.
Who can’t relate to that?
Perhaps you were fired or laid off. Perhaps you were passed over for a job because you were overqualified or you didn’t fill a company’s quota. Perhaps you saw a crush fall in love with another partner and walk away forever, leaving you with aggravating what-ifs.
We should all recognize dips and valleys are part of life. Those situations help mold us into the people we become, for better and for worse. Those situations can serve as remarkable teaching moments, revealing our heart, character and maturity.
Still, human nature drives us to want a Hollywood ending.
Can you imagine if LSU runs the table the rest of the way, and Orgeron isn’t named the Tigers’ next coach? Can you imagine if LSU continues to play with energy and renewed excitement under him, just as Southern Cal did with him on the sideline three years ago, and he’s left to pack his bags once more?
That’s possible. LSU is 2-0 since Orgeron was named the Tigers’ interim coach after Les Miles was fired. But who knows what direction the program will go even if LSU continues to thrive with its current leadership? Anything seems possible.
Perhaps Tom Herman will receive and answer the call. Perhaps LSU will lure a big name from another Power 5 program. Perhaps there’s an under-the-radar candidate who will swoop in and snatch the opportunity of a lifetime.
The best thing Orgeron can do is win and give LSU athletic director Joe Alleva something to think about. The victories over Missouri and Southern Miss were nice, but so much remains to be learned. Ole Miss, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida and Texas A&M loom as large challenges. The next five games will be a gut check.
But if Orgeron guides LSU to victories in all five – heck, if the Tigers go 4-1 and beat Alabama – then it would seem heartless not to give him the job. It would seem Orgeron did all he could to overcome his Ole Miss failure and earn the chance to start fresh as a head coach.
However, as Orgeron learned at Southern Cal, feel-good stories don’t always end with grins before the credits roll.
You don’t have to be an LSU fan to want to see the coming weeks work out differently for Orgeron. We’ve all been there – disappointments are as much a part of our existence as the sweet moments that make us smile – but you wonder how many setbacks one man can take.
Hopefully, a happy ending awaits Orgeron this time.