The rumor mill is rife with accounts of what will become of the LSU coaching staff. The most drastic rumor is that five (5!) assistant coaches will be fired, resign, or simply move along in the very near future. That would be the entire defensive coaching staff: Mallory, Peveto, Lane, Robinson, and ... ?
While I will be the first to acknowledge that changes must be made, dropping the entire defensive staff PLUS seems a little harsh to me. Really, I think what this defense needs is a change to a more aggressive mindset, and Bradley Dale Peveto for one seems like he would fit into that mindset just perfectly. Do I want him to be the defensive coordinator? No. But if he can return to his capacity as a linebackers coach and get the linebacking corps to play like it did previously I don't see a problem with him.
I have no opinion either way on Earl Lane as the defensive line coach, but it is very strange that we have a defensive line coach and a defensive tackle coach (Robinson, who doubles as the special teams coordinator). Two coaches essentially with identical responsibilities on the defense.
Personally, I don't see anything as drastic as 5 coaches getting the ax unless one or two of them are moving on of their own accord, which I suppose could happen.
The other juicy rumor is that Ed Orgeron, currently the defensive line coach for the New Orleans Saints and formerly the head coach at Ole Miss, is going to be hired on at LSU in some capacity. This would either be as defensive coordinator or as defensive line coach/head recruiter.
I know that a lot of LSU fans mocked Ed Orgeron when he was at Ole Miss, but the man built that team that just beat us. And while his head coaching performance left a lot to be desired, the man was a great defensive line coach before taking the job at Ole MIss. He wasn't good for USC and Miami. He was outstanding, and he would bring a lot of energy and aggressiveness to the LSU coaching staff. He was promoted beyond his abilities to be head coach at Ole miss, and personally I would be ecstatic if he would leave the Saints (where he seems to have done a nice job of coaching a line that has been devastated by injuries) to come to coach the defensive line at LSU.
If he would come here to be defensive coordinator, I'm not so sure about the move. He has never been a defensive coordinator anywhere, and while I think his more simian qualities have been greatly exaggerated by his detractors, he simply does not come across as a man who develops the strategy and calls the plays for a defense. It would be the same kind of situation that Ole Miss found themselves in, in the middle of a tough conference with a man who has never had the responsibility he currently has. That could end up being a mistake.
If we're going the Orgeron direction on any particular vacancy, we are left with a couple of questions:
- Would he leave his current job to take the one we're offering?
- When would he do it?
- How would Orgeron mix with the rest of the staff, especially Miles?
The NFL is the dream destination of most football coaches. It's a great gig, coaching the best talent in the world against the best coaches in the world. If we're offering Orgeron the chance to coach the defensive line here, when he is already coaching the defensive line at the NFL, it's a fair question to wonder if he'd really take it. It seems like a demotion.
The key to this question is, I think, to read Meat Market, Bruce Feldman's marvelous book about Coach O's life during the 2006-2007 year. Coach Orgeron loves recruiting. Loves it. Lives for it. For a man who has struggled with addiction, recruiting is his way to channel the obsessive impulses into something constructive. Like an alcoholic who stops drinking and then works out maniacally, Ed Orgeron is a recovering alcoholic who has transferred his fixation on alcohol into a fixation on evaluating talent and convincing it to come to his program. He can't do that for the New Orleans Saints, but he could do it if he comes back to college, and what's more he would be back at a program that is capable of drawing the best, like when he was at Miami, and distinctly different from when he was at Ole Miss.
If LSU has something to sell to Ed Orgeron, it is the possibility of getting back on the recruiting trail with a real shot at signing the best kids in the country.
The second question could be a little trickier. While LSU's regular season is over, the New Orleans Saints are still playing. They are at 6-6 after a loss to Tampa Bay, and they're hanging on to the playoff race by a thread. Presumably, nothing could happen until the Saints are officially out of the playoff race, but that could be a while.
Now there would be no harm in announcing it as an impending move, but allowing him to stay on with New Orleans to the end of the season, but then what of the person he would be replacing? We have a bowl game coming up in late December and we will need a full coaching staff. Would we expect Earl Lane to stay on to coach the bowl game when he could be out looking for his next gig? Could a grad assistant take over?
The third question is really anyone's guess, but rumors abounded after Orgeron was fired by Ole MIss last year that he and Miles had a sit-down meeting and that Miles expressed interest at that time in having Orgeron on the staff, perhaps in the capacity now occupied by Joe Robinson, who was hired later. If this rumor was true, and if the current rumors are true, clearly Miles has some considerable degree of respect and admiration for Orgeron, and frankly Miles seems like the kind of guy who can and would make every effort to get along with a prickly personality if it was good for the team.
But is Ed Orgeron also of such a personality? Could he come into a program like LSU, not being the head guy, after being the head coach at Ole Miss, and take direction from not only Les Miles, but from whomever Miles hires as defensive coordinator? And could the other coaches on the staff get along with him? Tommy Tuberville famously couldn't. It's something we will have to see, and honestly I hope we get a chance to see it.