How Ed Orgeron persevered through all the jokes, layoffs and failure to win everything at LSU

NEW ORLEANS – Six football seasons ago, Ed Orgeron was out of work, and spent Friday nights sitting in the stands of Mandeville High School (Louisiana) watching his son Parker play. On Saturday afternoon I turned on the television.

“Sitting on the couch in my house,” said Orgeron. “I remember watching SEC games, and I said,” I know I can compete with these guys in the right place. “

He had once been a head coach at Ole Miss, but won only three SEC games in three seasons. Basically, he had retired to the history of southern football as a colorful character who could not train or lick. He had returned to become an interim coach at the USC, but even after going 6-2, the Trojans felt that the coach with the barrel, the thick accent and the pride of his Cajun roots was a bad fit for Los Angeles. .

You can laugh at USC, which hasn’t earned much since then, but in the fall of 2014, it wasn’t as if Orgeron’s phone was ringing with anyone who saw it as training material.

“I said,” Hey, maybe you’ll be an assistant for the rest of your life, “said Orgeron.

That’s life, certainly for Orgeron. It has never been ordered and ordered, it has never been a matter of everything turning into gold along the way, it has never been a masterly master plan followed.

LSU head coach Ed Orgeron celebrates after his victory in a NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game against Clemson on Monday, January 13, 2020, in New Orleans. LSU won 42-25. (AP Photo / David J. Phillip)

He grew up in Larose, Louisiana, where the heat of summer doesn’t stop, but dreams often do. It was hard by the edges.

He went to LSU to play football but resigned, too immature to realize the opportunity. He was digging ditches for a telephone company when Northwestern State gave him a second chance. They almost kick him out of there for having too much fun.

He remained in hell on wheels while transitioning to training, and as errors accumulated, his career seemed to hang on the scale. He finally got sober, got married and came to Ole Miss.

And then failed. And nobody was willing to forget it.

“I thought I had learned from my mistakes in Ole Miss,” said Orgeron. “I thought I was ready to be head coach.”

I said it while wearing a purple LSU golf shirt and a satisfied smile. He had just stood in a shower of purple, white and gold confetti, and held the national championship high.

Fifty-eight years and the star of the less likely coach of college football was on top of a world that frequently underestimated him, dismissed him and even made fun of him. The accent. The grunts The walk. However, here he was, still standing. No cartoon character these days.

The power of a team that gathered, motivated and trained in Baton Rouge during the last four seasons culminated here, sending Clemson and his streak of 29 consecutive wins, 42-25.

LSU won 15 games this year. He didn’t lose any. He beat seven teams ranked in the top 10 at the time of the initial kick, and four ranked in the top five. They reached the playoffs winning by an average of 26.0 points. They did it with a modern and modern offensive in which you would not think that a defensive line coach would sign.

“This team will be mentioned as one of the best teams in the history of college football,” said Orgeron.

How in the world all this happened, well, maybe nobody knows. It is a testimony mainly of a man who never hesitated in his belief that he knew what he should be doing, that he never listened to those who said otherwise, that he never lost his pride regardless of the jokes, laughter or laughter of critics .

In his third or fourth or who knows what act number, Ed Orgeron finally expressed it completely and this year there was nothing that college football could do to stop it. No Dabo Swinney. Nick Saban no. Not Tom Herman or Kirby Smart or Lincoln Riley or any other coach who looks and talks like coaches are supposed to watch and talk.

“Man, people are going to talk and all that, but you can’t let it affect you,” Orgeron said. “I use it as internal motivation. People annoy me by the way I speak, it bothers me by my appearance. And it’s a funny thing. The things I was doing in Ole Miss ridiculed me.

“Now I hit my jaw and everyone in LSU likes it. Therefore, it only depends on where you are. ”

The marriage of Orgeron and LSU proved perfect, at least the second time. When he was a player, he missed his house and vanished. Now you can’t imagine calling anywhere else home.

The peculiarity of this state, or this fan base, or these policies, goes through it easily. The boasting combination: “We’re coming! – However, knowing moderation, speak to the place.

“I grew up wanting to be the LSU head coach,” he said. “I am very proud of the state of Louisiana.”

There was very little “how do you like me now” in Orgeron’s voice on Monday, although no one would have blamed him if there was.

Instead, he only spoke naturally. Maybe USC stepping on it was the best thing that could happen because it led to LSU.

Hell, everyone around here seems to have been arrested and shot down several times. This is a state built at work. Is not easy. Never.

What better than having a coach who has gone through everything: the good, the bad and the self-inflicted mistakes. What better coach for this place to believe in? What better example for people of all ages and all backgrounds and all the stories to follow, that the dream is not over as long as you continue to believe in it.

“It’s perseverance,” said Orgeron.

It’s getting to the top of the mountain as a coach (twice) and being sent back (twice) and knowing that everyone in the sport laughed at you … and they still sat in the high school stands and in the sofa in a living room and never doubted that everything was still possible.

Even the national title.

“Just starting,” said Orgeron.

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