The Ed Orgeron era at LSU is over.
Orgeron, whose firing was announced in mid-October, has coached his final game for the Tigers, a 27-24 win over Jimbo Fisher and No. 15 Texas A&M in College Station. He announced after the game that he will not lead the Tigers (6-6) in their bowl game, instead heading to Destin, Fla., with his girlfriend.
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“I told the guys I wish them luck,” Orgeron said in his postgame news conference. “I’m not gonna sit here and coach when there’s another guy coming in to be the head coach this week or the week after that. I’m not gonna do that.
“This is my team and as soon as they got a new head coach, I was gonna go.”
Offensive line coach Brad Davis will act as the interim coach until LSU finds its permanent replacement for Orgeron. With that, he ends his tenure in Baton Rouge with one SEC championship (2019), one College Football Playoff national championship (2019), a 51-20 record and 20-12 record vs. top 25 teams. The only other LSU coach with as many ranked wins is the man Orgeron replaced, Les Miles (42-23).
Orgeron also went 2-2 against Fisher, the coach whom LSU athletic director Scott Woodward reportedly favors to replace Orgeron as the head man in Baton Rouge. That victory came off a Jaray Jenkins 28-yard touchdown reception from Max Johnson to take a 27-24 lead with 20 seconds remaining in the game. Jenkins finished the day with eight catches for 169 yards and two scores. Johnson finished completing 22 of 38 passes for 306 yards and three scores.
“I can’t say enough about our football team, can’t say enough about our 19 seniors,” Orgeron told reporters after the game. “We always just kept talking about keep fighting and something good will happen. What a way to end that game. Those guys kept on fighting and believed in each other. I can’t say enough about our seniors and our team. Those guys fought back and we knew it would be a battle.”
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Despite the less-than-ideal ending to his LSU career, Orgeron helped deliver LSU one of its greatest seasons of all time, if not the greatest college football season of all time. The 2019 LSU Tigers featured one of the top offenses of all time, capped with a season-long record-breaking performance by Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow.
But the Tigers were not only unable to replicate that success in 2020 (5-5) or ’21 (6-6), but failed to improve beyond .500 under Orgeron, despite having one of the most talent-laden rosters in college football. Off-field issues, coupled with the lack of football success, contributed to Orgeron’s firing, less than two years removed from winning the 2019 national championship.
With his tenure now complete, Orgeron holds the record for shortest time between winning a national championship and getting fired. The previous record-holder was Auburn coach Gene Chizik, who was fired 686 days after leading the Tigers to the 2010 national championship. Orgeron was fired 685 days after leading LSU to a win over Clemson to claim the 2019 CFP championship.
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That said, Orgeron — who opened his final news conference by saying, “How ’bout them Tigers, baby?” — wished his team and the next coach luck:
“I hope they go to a great bowl,” Orgeron said. “I know that Brad Davis is going to do a great job and whoever the new coach is, I wish them all the luck in the world. I’m always going to be an LSU Tiger fan.”
The most pressing question for Woodward is who to go after to replace Orgeron in Baton Rouge. Fisher is his reported leader, considering he hired him at Texas A&M while he was still the athletic director in College Station. Another reported option is Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley, who categorically denied interest in the job following his team’s 37-33 loss to Oklahoma State in Bedlam on Saturday. “I’m not going to be the next head coach at LSU.”