Ed Orgeron is on borrowed time as LSU football‘s head coach right now.
The Tigers’ 42-21 loss to the Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday night is likely all LSU athletic director Scott Woodward needed to see to make his final decision — Orgeron’s firing is imminent.
It’s a shocking turn for a coach that less than two years ago led the Tigers to possibly the greatest season ever by a college football team.
LSU is 8-8 since going 15-0 and winning a national championship in 2019. That’s as mediocre as it gets.
So how did a coach who led an extremely talented team to a championship go from elite to mediocre? It’s not like LSU is lacking in the talent department.
I think it starts with a couple of bad decisions that Orgeron made before the start of the 2021 season.
Two big mistakes sealed Ed Orgeron’s fate as LSU football’s head coach
Ed Orgeron made two big mistakes this past offseason.
The first mistake was hiring two inexperienced coordinators.
Orgeron hired Daronte Jones to replace Bo Pelini and the combination of Jake Peetz/DJ Mangas to replace Steve Ensminger and Scott Linehan.
(Orgeron hired Pelini and Linehan after the 2019 season, making it two years in a row he’s missed on those hires.)
Jones is a good football coach. But his only experience as a defensive coordinator came at Bowie State over a decade ago. Hiring Jones to run an SEC defense with zero SEC experience probably wasn’t a wise idea.
Orgeron swung and missed on a couple of defensive coordinators before landing on Jones. LSU’s top target was Cincinnati’s Marcus Freeman, who ended up at Notre Dame. The Tigers also tried to hire New Orleans Saints defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen (that move was blocked by the Saints).
Hiring someone with some experience — especially the year after the Bo Pelini disaster — would’ve been the right move. Instead, LSU’s defense is ranked No. 74 in the nation.
Going with Peetz/Mangas to lead the offense wasn’t ideal, either.
LSU’s offense is ranked No. 62 in the nation. Not exactly what you expect from a team with one of the best wide receivers in the country.
Peetz is still learning how to be a play-caller. LSU, however, isn’t a place you go to learn on the job. Orgeron is the one to blame here. It was his decision to hire Peetz — because he was so dead set on trying to recreate what worked in 2019 (it’s impossible to recreate anything about that season).
The other big mistake that Orgeron made this offseason was firing his offensive line coach after spring practice. That’s one of the main reasons the Tigers’ offensive line has struggled so much this year (injuries haven’t helped either obviously).
LSU should’ve either made the move before spring practice to fire James Cregg or waited until after the season.
The recruiting violations that Cregg is facing aren’t that serious. It’s not like LSU was going to get hit with a Level I violation. This move could’ve waited.
If Orgeron would’ve made better choices in the offseason, maybe he wouldn’t be fighting for his job right now.