Ed Orgeron, who took LSU’s reins Sunday after Les Miles was fired, isn’t new to this interim thing.
Three years ago he took over at Southern California after Lane Kiffin was fired midseason and led the Trojans to a 6-2 record down the stretch.
It’s also not the first time Orgeron’s been in something of an interim position at LSU.
After graduating from South Lafourche High in Galliano, La., Orgeron originally signed with LSU, but he quickly left the school.
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“I lasted two weeks and got homesick,” Orgeron said Wednesday during the weekly SEC Coaches’ Teleconference. “Baton Rouge was a far place from Larose.”
Larose, Orgeron’s hometown on the Louisiana bayou south of New Orleans, is actually less than 100 miles from Baton Rouge, but it felt like a world away to the young Cajun defensive lineman.
“I’ve regretted it ever since,” he said. “The next day, my daddy put me on the side of the road doing construction and people were passing by and making comments to me. It was kind of the worst day of my life.”
Orgeron eventually went to Northwestern State, nearly 300 miles away in Natchitoches, La., where he became a four-year starter, but LSU remained close to his heart.
“I’d pass Tiger Stadium and wonder what it would have been like and I said to myself, ‘One day I will be back and the second time around is going to be a better time for me,’” Orgeron said.
He’s served as LSU’s defensive line coach the last two seasons and also became Miles’ recruiting coordinator last spring before Sunday’s promotion to interim head coach.
Orgeron’s first task is getting LSU ready to host Missouri for its homecoming game at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in “Death Valley,” MU’s first appearance in Baton Rouge.
“It was a tough week for our players, saying goodbye to Coach Miles,” Orgeron said. “He’s a great man and what a great career he had here at LSU. He loved the state of Louisiana … but we’re starting a new season. We’ve had a lot of energy at practice. Guys are preparing for a very explosive Missouri offense that’s averaging 44.5 (points) per game. They’re an up-tempo offense, sort of like Baylor was. We’re expecting a tough opponent coming into Tiger Stadium.”
Orgeron, who worked on Jimmy Johnson’s staff at Miami (Fla.) in 1988 and Pete Carroll’s staff at USC from 2001-04, has completely rearranged LSU’s practice schedule. He also hopes his experience as an interim coach will mitigate the chaos and potential distractions his players must navigate this week.
According to Orgeron, “guys are having fun” at practice this week.
“They’re running around with a lot of energy … and we’re preparing to have a great game in Saturday …,” he said. “It’s a cumulative effect of what we did at Miami and USC, and the players are loving it right now.”