Ed Orgeron grew up a Tiger fan. He developed a passion for the Tigers at an early age, becoming a fan of some of the all-time LSU greats in the 1970s. Players like Bert Jones, Ronnie Estay, Tommy Casanova and Charles Alexander ignited a purple and gold fire under Orgeron that still burns today.
Now in his second full season as head coach of the Tigers, Orgeron has leveraged his passion and love for LSU into a determination and drive that sees him spend nearly every waking moment focused on LSU football and his vision for the program. Winning championships will always be the goal for the program, but it's what Orgeron and his staff are doing to develop and mentor players off the field, in an atmosphere that fosters inclusion and accountability, that will ultimately set Tigers apart.
Orgeron is a tireless recruiter, considered by many to be the best in the business at the craft. In 21 games as head coach of the Tigers, Orgeron has proven time and time again that he's much more than just a recruiter, he's a versatile head coach with all of the qualities necessary to lead the Tigers back to national prominence.
His quick impact on the LSU program was evident in 2016 when he was elevated from defensive line coach to interim head coach just four games into the season. The results were immediate and impressive, turning a 2-2 team with little confidence following a loss at Auburn, into a squad that played with swagger and energy. Orgeron earned the title of permanent head coach on November 26, 2016, two days after LSU beat Texas A&M, 54-39, to wrap up the regular season with a 7-4 mark, which included a 5-2 mark under Coach O. He's the first Louisiana-born LSU head coach of the Tigers since Jerry Stovall in the early 1980s.
With a “One Team, One Heartbeat” motto and high-energy practices that focus on being crisp and efficient, the players have bought into the Orgeron system, both on and off the field and the results are hard to ignore. Orgeron has guided the Tigers to a 15-6 overall mark in his 21 games as the LSU head coach, which includes a 7-3 record against SEC Western Division opponents and six victories against teams ranked in the Top 25. Of LSU's six losses under Orgeron, three have come by six points or less and two others came against the nation's No. 1 ranked team. Furthermore, of Orgeron's 15 LSU wins, 10 have come against SEC foes and 12 have been by double-digits.
In 2017, Orgeron led the Tigers to a 9-4 overall mark, a second straight appearance in the Citrus Bowl and a No. 18 final national ranking. While LSU came up just short in claiming a 10-win season, Orgeron and the Tigers gave plenty of reasons to show that the program is on the rise. A total of 20 true freshmen – the second-highest figure nationally – saw playing time for the Tigers last year and the group of rookies combined for 44 starts.
All 20 of those true freshmen return in 2018, combined with a defense that returns eight starters, including All-America linebacker Devin White and All-America cornerback Greedy Williams. Throw in a signing class the saw the Tigers load up on offensive and defensive linemen, a must in order to compete in the rugged SEC, and that nation's No. 1-ranked wide receiver class, and Orgeron and LSU have the making for a team ready to make a run in 2018.
The Coach O Way
With the “One Team. One Heartbeat” motto, the Tigers seemingly became a different team overnight under Orgeron and the results that LSU sought soon followed. As the head coach of the Tigers, Orgeron said he was going to “flip the script” and he assigned a theme for the daily practices. The purpose of the descriptive practice themes for each day during the week is one of the ways that Orgeron and his staff hold the players accountable and focused both prior to and during the workout. The daily practice nicknames are as follows: Tell the Truth Monday, Competition Tuesday, Turnover/No Turnover Wednesday, No Repeat Thursday, and Focus Friday.
Orgeron has also opened the doors for former LSU players to come back and be active in the program. Having former players actively involved is a way for the current Tigers to get a better understanding of who helped build the foundation for the program, while also letting them see first-hand what it means to be a LSU Tiger and the responsibility that goes along with it. It's worked as rarely a day that goes by where a former Tiger isn't seen at practice or walking the halls of the football facility interacting with the current team and staff. Coach O also recently hired former LSU great Kevin Faulk as the team's director of player development.
The 2017 Season
Coach Orgeron's first year at LSU saw the Tigers go 9-4 overall and post a 6-2 mark in league play. LSU opened the season shutout of BYU in New Orleans followed by a win over Chattanooga. LSU stood at 3-1 after a win over Syracuse in Tiger Stadium, but the Tigers fell to 3-2 following a loss to Troy. It was then that Orgeron did perhaps his best coaching job as he showed no panic and rallied an LSU team the responded by winning six of its last seven games. Included in that stretch of games was a road win over Florida the week after the Troy loss, followed by a 20-point comeback win over Top 10 Auburn in Tiger Stadium.
The lone blemish over the final two months of the season was a 24-10 setback to top-ranked Alabama in Tuscaloosa, a game that saw the Tigers outplay, outgain, and beat the Crimson Tide in every category except the final score, and while there are no moral victories for the LSU football program, it was a performance that validated the direction the program was headed.
With Orgeron now leading the way, the born and bred Louisiana native who is purple and gold to the core - has his team believing that every time they step on the field, they are going to not only win, but play with a passion and energy that will be unmatched.
LSU wrapped up the month of November with three 20+ point wins over SEC opponents Arkansas, Tennessee, and Texas A&M. It's only the second time in school history, and the first since 1949, that LSU has won three league games in November by 20 points or more. LSU dominated Arkansas for the second straight year, beating the Razorbacks 33-10 after a 38-10 victory over the Hogs in 2016. In a rain-soaked game in Knoxville, LSU was again dominant in a 30-10 victory over Tennessee to claim win No. 8 marking the 18th straight season of at least eight wins for the Tigers. LSU closed out the regular season with another impressive win, rolling up 601 yards in a 45-21 victory over Texas A&M. It marked LSU's sixth straight win over the Aggies since Texas A&M joined the SEC in 2012.
LSU closed out the year with its 18th straight bowl appearance as the Tigers dropped a last-second decision to Notre Dame in the Citrus Bowl. Still, LSU finished with a 9-4 overall mark and ranked in the final national polls for the third straight year and the ninth time in 10 years.
Off the field, LSU's academic achievement reached a historic high for the school as the Tigers' most recent Graduation Success Rate hit 78 percent, the highest total on record in school history. The 78 percent is far better than the national average of 44 percent and validates that LSU Football is about competing for championships on the field and ensuring that its players leave with a college degree.
Coach O bolstered his staff during the offseason with the promotion of Steve Ensminger to offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach. It will be Ensminger's second stint as offensive coordinator under Orgeron as he held that spot for eight games during the head coach's transition year in 2016. Under Ensminger, LSU's offense thrived, setting numerous records and proving that he is the right man for the job.
He also added longtime NFL veteran and former LSU assistant Jerry Sullivan to the staff on a fulltime basis as the senior offensive assistant and passing game coordinator. Sullivan, who spent 2017 as a consultant for LSU, won a pair of SEC titles with the Tigers as wide receivers coach in 1986 and 1988 and then spent 25 years coaching the NFL where he helped the Chargers reach the Super Bowl during the 1994 season.
James Cregg, another coach with NFL experience, joined the staff and his impact has already paid off as the offensive line is expected to be one of the strengths for the Tigers this year. Cregg joined LSU after six years in the NFL where he was part of a Denver Broncos team that won Super Bowl 50.
Defensively, Bill Busch, who spent three years working alongside Dave Aranda at Wisconsin and Utah State, joined the Tiger staff as safeties coach. Greg McMahon, who won a Super Bowl with the Saints and spent 11 years coaching special teams for the franchise, was elevated from analyst in 2017 to LSU's special teams coordinator in 2018.
Coach O As LSU's Interim Coach
Coach O took over as LSU's interim coach the week of the Missouri game in 2016. The impact he had on the program was immediate. His first duty as LSU's new head coach was to appoint veteran assistant and former LSU quarterback Steve Ensminger from tight ends coach to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. The move paid off right away as Ensminger injected life into the Tiger's offense by diversifying the play calling and bringing a culture of inclusion to the offensive staff room. Seldom used wide receivers DJ Chark and Russell Gage – who later went on to become NFL Draft picks – were spotlighted on offense to compliment an already explosive running game led by Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice.
In eight games under Orgeron in 2016, LSU set offensive records for most yards in an SEC game (634 vs. Missouri), longest scoring play from scrimmage (Derrius Guice 96-yard TD run vs. Arkansas), and twice set the school single-game rushing record (Leonard Fournette 284 yards vs. Ole Miss, Derrius Guice 285 yards vs. Texas A&M).
Defensively, LSU held opponents scoreless for 15 of 32 quarters under Orgeron and limited the opposition to an average of 15.3 points per game over the eight contests. In 12 games, LSU allowed only 16 touchdowns all season, which led the nation. The Tigers also gave up just 1.3 TDs a contest, also first nationally.
Orgeron Coaching History
Orgeron, a native of Larose, Louisiana, is LSU's 33rd head football coach, and the first Louisiana native to serve as head coach of the Tigers since West Monroe native Jerry Stovall held the position for four seasons in the early 1980s.
Orgeron, who has also served as head coach at Ole Miss and Southern Cal, is 15-6 at LSU. His career mark as a collegiate head coach is 31-33, however he's 21-8 over his last 29 games. Orgeron went 6-2 as Southern Cal's interim head coach in 2013, taking over a USC team that stumbled to a 3-2 mark over the first five games of the year. Orgeron rallied the Trojans as USC closed out the regular season with wins in six of its final eight games, which included a victory over fifth-ranked Stanford along with double-figure Pac-12 wins against Utah, Oregon State, California and Colorado.
In his first game as LSU's permanent head coach, Orgeron guided the Tigers to a 29-9 win over No. 13 Louisville and its Heisman Trophy quarterback Lamar Jackson in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl.
The win against Louisville capped a remarkable turnaround for the Tigers under Orgeron, who assumed the role as interim coach of the Tigers a day after a disappointing 18-13 setback at Auburn.
Orgeron originally joined the Tiger staff in 2015 as defensive line coach, before adding the title of recruiting coordinator in the spring of 2016.
Prior to joining the LSU staff, Orgeron's last coaching stop came at Southern Cal where he served as recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach for the Trojans for four years (2010-13). Orgeron was elevated to interim head coach at USC for the final eight games of the 2013 season, leading the Trojans to a 6-2 mark over that span.
Orgeron served two stints at Southern Cal, the first as the Trojans' defensive line coach from 1998 to 2004. Orgeron coached under Paul Hackett at USC for three years from 1998 to 2000 and was one of just a handful of coaches retained by Pete Carroll when he took over as the Trojans' head coach in 2001.
He added the title of recruiting coordinator for USC in 2001 and helped the Trojans to top five signing classes for three straight years from 2002-04. Rivals.com and Sporting News named him the 2004 National Recruiter of the Year.
On the field, Orgeron was part of a Southern Cal staff that led the Trojans to a 12-1 mark and an AP National Championship in 2003 and a 13-0 record and another national title in 2004.
Orgeron left USC in 2005 to become the head coach at Ole Miss, where he went 10-25 in three years with Rebels from 2005-07.
Orgeron spent the 2008 season coaching the defensive line for the New Orleans Saints and then joined Tennessee as defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator in 2009. He returned to Southern Cal following the 2009 season.
Orgeron made a name for himself as a top defensive line coach at the University of Miami from 1988-92, where he coached eight All-Americans, including NFL first rounders Cortez Kennedy, Russell Maryland and Warren Sapp. In 1988, he was a graduate assistant at Miami, working with the defensive line. During his tenure, the Hurricanes won the national championship twice (1989 and 1991), finished second in the AP poll once (1988) and third twice (1990 and 1992) while appearing in five New Year's Day bowls (1989 Orange, 1990 Sugar, 1991 Cotton, 1992 Orange, 1993 Sugar).
Orgeron also was a graduate assistant at Northwestern (La.) State, his alma mater, in 1984 and McNeese State in 1985, working with the defensive line at both schools, then was an assistant strength coach at Arkansas for two years (1986-87).
As a player, Orgeron was a four-year starter on the defensive line for Northwestern State, captaining the Demons as a senior in 1983. He received his bachelor's degree in liberal arts from Northwestern State in 1984. In 2007, Orgeron was named to the Northwestern State Top 100 Players which was part of the school's Centennial Football Celebration.
He starred in football, basketball and track at South Lafourche High in Galliano, La. On the big screen, Orgeron played himself in the 2009 Oscar-nominated movie, “The Blind Side.”
Born July 27, 1961, he and his wife, Kelly, have three sons, Tyler, and twins Parker and Cody. Tyler is a member of the LSU football coaching staff, while twins Parker and Cody just completed their second season as part of the McNeese State football team. Parker is a starting wide receiver for the Cowboys, while Cody is competing for snaps at quarterback heading into his redshirt sophomore season in 2018.
Ed Orgeron File
Year at LSU: Fourth (third as head coach)
Birthdate: July 27, 1961, in Larose, La.
Children: Tyler, Parker, Cody
High School: South Lafourche High School (Galliano, La.)
College: Northwestern State (La.), 1984
1981-84 Northwestern (La.) State (defensive line)
1984 Northwestern (La.) State (graduate assistant)
1985 McNeese State (graduate assistant)
1986-87 Arkansas (assistant strength coach)
1988-92 Miami (Fla.) (graduate assistant, 1988; defensive line 1989-92)
1994 Nicholls State (linebackers)
1995-97 Syracuse (defensive line)
1998-2004 Southern Cal (defensive line, 1998-2002; recruiting coordinator, 2001-04)
2005-07 Ole Miss (head coach)
2008 New Orleans Saints (defensive line)
2009 Tennessee (defensive line/recruiting coordinator)
2010-12 Southern Cal (defensive coordinator/defensive line/recruiting coordinator, 2010-13; interim head coach, 2013
2015-16 LSU (defensive line; recruiting coordinator, 2016 interim head coach, Sept. 25, 2016)
Nov. 26, 2016 - Present - LSU (head coach)
Season, Bowl, Team, Opponent, Results
As Assistant Coach
1986, Orange, Arkansas, Oklahoma, L, 42-8
1987, Liberty, Arkansas, Georgia, L, 20-17
1988, Orange, Miami, Nebraska, W, 23-3
1989, Sugar, Miami, Alabama, W, 33-25
1990, Cotton, Miami, Texas, W, 46-3
1991, Orange, Miami, Nebraska, W, 22-0
1992, Sugar, Miami, Alabama, L, 34-13
1995, Gator, Syracuse, Clemson, W, 41-0
1996, Liberty, Syracuse, Houston, W, 30-17
1997, Fiesta, Syracuse, Kansas State, L, 35-18
1998, Sun, Southern Cal, TCU, L, 28-19
2001, Las Vegas, Southern Cal, Utah, L, 10-6
2002, Orange, Southern Cal, Iowa, W, 38-17
2003, Rose, Southern Cal, Michigan, W, 28-14
2004, Orange, Southern Cal, Oklahoma, W, 55-19
2009, Chick-fil-A, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, L, 37-14
2012, Sun, Southern Cal, Georgia Tech, L, 21-7
2015, Texas, LSU, Texas Tech, W, 56-27
As Head Coach
2016, Citrus, LSU, Louisville, W, 29-9
2017, Citrus, LSU, Notre Dame, W, 21-17
Ed Orgeron's Head Coaching Record
|2013 (Interim)||Southern Cal||6-2|
|2016 (Interim)||LSU||6-2||Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl (def. Louisville, 29-9)|
|2017||LSU||9-4||Citrus Bowl pres. by Overton's (lost to Notre Day, 21-17)|