LSU Football: Anonymous coach suggests Tigers had an ego problem between coaches in 2020

Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s not a secret that LSU football didn’t live up to expectations in 2020.

The Tigers finished the season 5-5, which felt like an accomplishment after starting the abbreviated 10-game season with a 3-5 record.

With two games remaining in the season, against Florida and Ole Miss, a 3-7 season looked like a very real possibility for LSU.

The Tigers, however, were able to rally behind true freshman quarterback Max Johnson to win the final two games of the season and finish with a respectable record.

Despite the strong finish, a 5-5 record was still a disappointment last season. It’s not that anyone was expecting the Tigers to repeat as national champions — especially with all the talent the program lost. But most folks were at least expecting LSU to beat Mississippi State and Missouri. Those are two games the Tigers should’ve won easily — LSU was the more talented team on the field in both matchups.

So why did the Tigers lose those games?

It was mostly because of poor play by the defense.

LSU gave up 44 points to Mississippi State and 45 points to Missouri.

Did egos play a part in LSU football’s tough 2020 season?

The defense was expected to be a strength for the Tigers in 2020.

Ed Orgeron hired former Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini after the 2019 season to replace Dave Aranda (who left to become the head coach at Baylor) as LSU’s defensive coordinator.

The decision to hire Pelini — who served as the Tigers’ defensive coordinator under Les Miles from 2005-2007 — was widely praised by media outlets.

Pelini was expected to put an aggressive defense on the field that was constantly “attacking”.

Instead, the defense proved to be flawed and it resulted in one of the worst LSU defenses in recent memory.

So what went wrong?

According to an anonymous coach who spoke with Athlon Sports recently, it could’ve been because of egos.

“That was an ego problem between coaches,” said the anonymous coach. “What you see on film is a unit that’s convinced they’re more talented and doesn’t adjust. That is 100 percent coaching. When you have a guy like [Derek] Stingley, a good player looking so out of position and not getting calls, that’s on you as a coach.”

Now, the anonymous coach doesn’t specifically mention Pelini or Orgeron. But I think it’s reasonable to surmise that the ego problem was between those two.

And it’s not exactly a surprise. Pelini hadn’t been a coordinator since 2007. It’s not easy to go from being the head coach for over a decade to suddenly being an assistant — especially an assistant under a defensive-minded coach.

Pelini was never comfortable last season as an assistant. And that’s certainly understandable. It was a good fit on paper, but in reality, it turned out to be a disaster.

Next. 247Sports says LSU is underrated in 2021. dark

Fortunately for LSU, Orgeron made some big decisions this offseason. He hired Daronte Jones to replace Pelini and it’s a move that’s already paying off. Jones has been praised by Orgeron for his energy and the way he connects with players.

In less than a month, we’ll see if it pays off on the field, too.