He is the guy who got the LSU job at the end of November 2016 and did what any of us could do and then told reporters about it: he sang through the open window on the driver’s side while driving Interstate 12 at 67 miles from his home in Mandeville to Baton Rouge. (As for which songs, Brady McCollough of the Los Angeles Times set one in November: the composition of John Fogerty “Born On The Bayou,” the B-side of the 1969 Creedence Clearwater Revival hit “Proud Mary.”)
Most of those who have ever driven an American highway while working on the pipes could identify with that, just as many adults could empathize with an unemployed person who Orgeron spent the fall of 2014 at age 53 watching football idle and uncertainty, although he was not hurting for money. And almost everyone could see hope in Orgeron, sitting like a new national champion early Tuesday while recounting that quieter part of history.
“I remember sitting on the couch in my house,” he said after his LSU Tigers went to Clemson, 42-25, to win the national championship. “I had a year to reflect. I remember watching SEC games, and I said, “I know I can compete with these guys in the right place.” I mean, you have to be in a place like LSU and have great coaches and great players to win it. I don’t think I could have been anywhere else and have the success we had so quickly. So I think it’s a combination of being in the right place at the right time.
“I think it’s also perseverance. Man, people are going to talk and all that, but you can’t let it affect you. I used it as internal motivation. People, they bother me because of the way I speak, they bother me because of the way that I see myself, and it’s funny, the things I was doing in Ole Miss ridiculed me, and now I hit my jaw and everyone in LSU likes it so it just depends on where you are. “
It did not reach this point through Toledo, the staff of Bill Belichick in Cleveland, Michigan State, LSU, the Miami Dolphins, Alabama and a lifelong campaign against human complacency. (That would be Nick Saban). He did not arrive filling the rooms with natural aura and flying quickly from Bowling Green to Utah, Florida and the state of Ohio. (That would be Urban Meyer.) In any case, parts of Orgeron’s arch might resemble that time that Clemson’s coach Dabo Swinney spent two years selling commercial real estate. (And sell it absurdly well, of course).
Can we imagine Tom Osborne, Barry Switzer, Woody Hayes, John McKay or Bear Bryant singing through the open window when being promoted from full interim head coach? (Okay, maybe Switzer).
No, Orgeron trained Mississippi to a 10-25 overall record from 2005 to ’07, and Southern Cal to 6-2 as interim in 2013, after Athletic Director Pat Haden achieved an achievement in the shooting and shooting annals , in an asphalted airport, Lane Kiffin, who recently signed with the coach – My God – Mississippi. Orgeron could have succeeded with Kiffin at the USC more permanently if UCLA had not come to the Los Angeles Coliseum and had a 35-14 bacchanal. Orgeron went from there to the couch, and to see his children in high school games in Mandeville, and then, in 2015, the staff of Les Miles as a defensive line coach at LSU.
“I am grateful that Coach Miles has given me a chance,” Orgeron said. “He hired me at LSU. It is where I wanted to go. I knew I was going to train. I didn’t think this was going to happen. When I didn’t get the job at the USC, I said, “Hey, maybe you’ll be an assistant for the rest of your life.” I loved training. “
Somehow, a little later, he supervised the northern lights of LSU of an offense, the 726 points, the first 418 attempts, the 7.89 yards per play, the 8.526 yards, the 15-0. He did this in part with another related twist, his voluntary and humble import last season of Joe Brady, a 29-year-old step coordinator of the X-and-O corridors and geek movie theaters of the New Orleans Saints.
Of such humility for which you can’t handle enough credit, Orgeron said mid-season: “I think it’s [crucial], because the game is changing. Change daily, especially in offense, extended offense, new ideas. Obviously, I’m 58 years old, I’ve been training college football for a long time [nine colleges, one NFL franchise]. Now, there are some young and promising coaches like the ones we have in our staff, and I have no problem hearing them, especially in an area where I have no experience. My experience is motivation, recruitment, defensive line play, and I work as hard as I can on those issues, and I let the other guys I hire, people who are experts in their position, and let them go. “
Soon, he is standing in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in a small interview room after the game after an amazing 46-41 victory, and tells listeners that he is excited to go to 7-Eleven for his Red Bull or his Monster energy drink without LSU fans asking when he will beat Alabama. Soon, he is sitting in New York in a suit, watching Joe Burrow accept the Heisman Trophy and possibly listening to Heisman’s most touching speech to date, a speech that confirmed every hint about Orgeron’s relatability.
“Coach O,” Burrow began at one point before the emotion forced him to stop. Then he said: “You have no idea what you mean to my family.” He wiped his eyes and, in the audience, Orgeron sat with his shoulders covered with one arm from the seat next to him, that of Father Jimmy de Burrow, himself. Seasonal training assistant. Joe Burrow spoke and concluded that part with: “I hope they give him a contract for life,” and now they could do it.
As the rest of the country becomes familiar with the coach from the swamp in Larose, it is not just that Orgeron is listenable, and that there is no one in the world who prefers to hear from Clyde Edwards-Helaire, the admirable LSU back, “It has a large trunk.” It’s not just that there’s nobody you prefer to hear say how Burrow’s leadership came in part because he “kept his mouth shut” from the beginning. Is that the last coach of the national championship is a guy who does not mind telling the value of a nadir, the type of person who has been on the couch and back, the type of person you could hug while listening to a speech.