Ed Orgeron never had a bad day as LSU's football coach. Saturday could be his last.
When Ed Orgeron agreed to step down as LSU’s football coach in October, he was adamant about staying with the Tigers through a potential bowl game.
That possibility has become less certain over the past month.
Orgeron would like to stick around, but LSU President William Tate IV and athletics director Scott Woodward will make that decision for him.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Orgeron said. “I want to leave here and make sure everybody’s clear that when I do leave that I did the upmost I could for the LSU Tigers.
“If we do go to a bowl, I need to talk to the administration and have a conversation to see what’s best for the football team.”
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LSU (5-6, 2-5 SEC) becomes bowl eligible with a win over No. 14 Texas A&M (8-3, 4-3) on Saturday at Tiger Stadium (6 p.m. ESPN). The last time the Tigers failed to reach bowl eligibility was 1999. Gerry DiNardo was shown the door before the season finale against Arkansas, leading to Nick Saban’s arrival and the program’s second golden age.
It’s a tough sell, considering LSU’s porous showing in 2021, but the players are already packing their bags for the postseason.
“Oh, we’re going to beat Texas A&M,” linebacker Damone Clark said.
It wouldn’t be an LSU-Texas A&M game unless the attention was on who was coaching the Tigers. Les Miles was all but fired but fired in 2015, only to get carried off the field after beating the Aggies. Reports surfaced that former LSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher was in line to replace Miles.
Fisher, Texas A&M’s coach since 2018, is now one of the names mentioned to take over for Orgeron.
Orgeron dealt with the same intrigue while LSU’s interim coach in 2016. He landed the full-time job following another win over the Aggies, reportedly after then-AD Joe Alleva failed to land Fisher and Tom Herman.
“I’m used to it,” joked Orgeron, who came to LSU as defensive line coach under Miles in 2015.
“With me, it’s always been about the team. We’ve got 19 seniors and it’s their last home game, so I want to send them out the right way.”
Those 19 seniors want to send Orgeron out the right way as well.
“It would be great if we could win and try to make a bowl game,” defensive tackle Neil Farrell said. “Coach O is just a great man and I think sending him off a winner would mean a lot to him and to us.”
Orgeron appreciated the sentiment as he savors what could be his final game. He played back all the hits this week, both from LSU and his other head-coaching stint at Ole Miss, first taking his shirt off following Saturday’s win over Louisiana-Monroe.
Back in 2005, Orgeron famously ripped off his shirt and challenged his players to fight him during a team meeting at Ole Miss.
“I usually wait until before the game,” Orgeron said. “I was so excited about the game I took off my shirt after the last one, so we’re going to be pumped up and ready to go. This is about A&M and all respect to them.”
Orgeron’s bravado, beloved in local folklore when LSU won the national championship in 2019, became a running joke as the losses mounted over the past two seasons. The Tigers turned in one of the most underwhelming title defenses in recent memory, finishing 5-5 and self-imposing a bowl ban in 2020.
LSU is an uncharacteristic 10-11 overall and 7-10 in the SEC over the past two seasons.
Oregon plans on taking a year off from coaching after the season. He’s been approached about advertising and television opportunities but wants to speak to groups about his journey to sobriety after battling alcohol addiction.
The good still outweighs the bad for Orgeron, who insists he never had a bad day at LSU.
He doesn’t plan on starting now.
“I think I’m gonna make it,” Orgeron said.
Adam Hunsucker covers LSU for the USA TODAY Network. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @adam_hunsucker. Enjoy Adam’s work? Consider a digital subscription for unlimited access.