LSU Football: Ranking the top 5 candidates to replace Ed Orgeron

Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports /

LSU Football will have a new head coach in 2022 after announcing last week that Ed Orgeron won’t return after the 2021 season.

This is one of the best college football jobs in the nation, so the Tigers should have no shortage of suitors.

Not every coach available, however, would be a good fit in Baton Rouge.

Some of the top names available don’t make a lot of sense for the Tigers (or it’s unlikely they’ll land at LSU). Guys like Matt Campbell at Iowa State or Luke Fickell at Cincinnati probably won’t be coaching the Tigers in 2022.

Another name that was popular over the last couple of weeks has also seemingly fallen off the radar a bit. James Franklin at Penn State seems destined for USC if he leaves the Nittany Lions. His team’s loss to Illinois on Saturday didn’t help, either.

Here are my top five options (really six — I have a tie at No. 5) to replace Orgeron in 2022.

5. Dave Clawson — Wake Forest head coach/Billy Napier — Louisiana head coach

I couldn’t leave one of these coaches off the list. Clawson has been incredible at Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons are 7-0 for the first time in program history. They have a legitimate shot to crash the College Football Playoff if they can run the table the rest of the season (and their schedule is favorable). He’ll definitely be getting some offers from big-time programs.

As for Napier, his lack of experience at the Power-5 level as a head coach is concerning. But he’s done a great job at Louisiana and he has plenty of recruiting connections that could help with in-state recruiting. He’s not a sure thing, but he’s a decent option if LSU misses on top targets.

4. Mark Stoops — Kentucky head coach

I think Mark Stoops would be best suited to take over at Florida State, where he was an assistant coach before landing in Lexington. But I could see him thriving in Baton Rouge, where he’d have an insane amount of talent. Stoops has worked wonders at Kentucky with a roster not nearly as talented as the teams he’s regularly playing. Imagine what he could do with top-five talent.

3. Mel Tucker — Michigan State

Mel Tucker is a former LSU assistant who has Michigan State at 7-0 this season. He’s worked under Nick Saban and Kirby Smart. His resumé speaks for itself. If Tucker can knock off Michigan and Ohio State later this season, he could vault to the top of this list.

2. Jimbo Fisher — Texas A&M head coach

This could really be 1a and 1b, but I have Jimbo Fisher at No. 2 on this list because I’m not sure his salary is on par with his results. He’s a great coach. One of the best in college football. But he tends to have a letdown every now and then (like this season against Arkansas and Mississippi State). He’d have slightly better talent at LSU.

1. Lane Kiffin — Ole Miss head coach

I think this is the guy. Kiffin is one of the best play-callers in college football. He’s an incredible recruiter and he wins (he has Ole Miss on the verge of the top 10).

Kiffin would continue to bring elite talent to Baton Rouge while putting a first-class offense on the field every year. I could see Kiffin winning his first Natty with the Tigers within a couple of years if he ends up being the hire.

And yes, I definitely think he’d leave Ole Miss for LSU. He’d be crazy not to.