If you’re a writer in Louisiana, you’re obligated by state law to have an opinion on the drama unfolding around the antics and departure of one of America’s favorite coaches, Ed Orgeron of LSU.
The deep, gravelly, Cajun voice behind the familiar “Geaux Tiguhs” will be leaving Louisiana’s flagship university at the end of this season, it was announced on Sunday. By Sunday morning, we had an obligatory Deadspin piece decrying the move as far too late and focused on the wrong thing – wins and losses rather than the problematic nature of Orgeron’s management.
Except… that doesn’t appear to be the case at all. Orgeron’s management style appears to be at the center of LSU’s decision to let him go, and you can bet that, despite not mentioning it, the Title IX lawsuit against the program is at the center of it. How do I know that’s a sure bet? Because cooperating with the investigation is part of Orgeron’s release terms.
By all accounts, Orgeron won the lottery as far as players and coaching staff go in the 2019 season when he led the Tigers to a National Championship thanks to quarterback Joe Burrow and assistant coach Joe Brady, among others. And despite threats of arrests over cigars of all things, that flash-in-the-pan moment made Orgeron a hero in the state of Louisiana – which, admittedly, is at times a low bar – and combined with a divorce around the same time meant he was single and popular.
Insanely popular and newly single, Orgeron was apparently playing a different game when not coaching his primary one. There was a viral photo leak of him in bed with a young woman, but that was the tip of the iceberg.
Coach O won that championship got a divorce and turnt up pic.twitter.com/MERclfKWMf
— Real Name: Grover (@DontrellChillis) October 21, 2020
At The Athletic, a detailed report on Orgeron’s behavior surfaced almost as quickly as the reports that he and the university were parting ways. Some of the details are, for lack of a better word, insane. He would bring his girlfriends to practice, let their kids take part in drills. He also apparently hit on a pregnant, married woman at a gas station. The fact that she was pregnant and married didn’t bother him, as evidenced by the fact that he replied “Why does that matter?” to her.
That woman, incidentally, was the wife of a board member at LSU. Oops.
Coach O’s behavior was indeed problematic. So for Deadspin (or anyone else) to come out and say this was just about wins and losses is insanely naive because just about every story that came out after the departure was announced is about literally everything but the wins and losses. It’s clear that his management style, especially after that great National Championship season, wasn’t good.
And you can bet that most of these stories are being circulated by folks at LSU to the media on background as a way of justifying letting him go. They are smart enough to let him complete the season so the team isn’t thrown into absolute chaos (again), but it’s clear they’ve had a lot of reasons for a while now to go ahead and end the Orgeron era of LSU football.
It’s also worth pointing out that Orgeron was hired during a previous administration at LSU. Both the President and the Athletic Director who chose him are no longer in those roles, and neither of them was stellar at picking people to head up the university’s athletic programs. That’s not to say that Orgeron was a bad pick, per se. At the time, he did a solid job. But in recent seasons, it hasn’t been the same program, and people are noticing that, outside of the win over Florida this past weekend, LSU players simply don’t look like they are giving their all.
Maybe it’s a result of Orgeron’s management style, or maybe it’s something else, but the quality of the product on the field was not what it once was, and it can be traced back to that chaotic management style under Orgeron since he won the National Championship.
I would not expect LSU to come out and say “Yeah, we let him go because of the Title IX stuff” because that would be legally insane. But Orgeron gave the university that and a host of other reasons as to why he shouldn’t be in charge anymore. And they’re going to start fresh.