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The LSU Coaching Search: Sorting Through What Happened

Coach O is in place, but how did we get here?

LSU v Texas A&M Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Ed Orgeron is the head coach at LSU. Tom Herman is the head coach at Texas, and Jimbo Fisher is still at Florida State.

So how did this all unfold? Not exactly the way you think.

The Advocate’s Ross Dellenger has a great piece here that details a lot of it, and it jives, largely with what I had been told from sources close to LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva.

LSU decision-makers used Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher’s talked-about candidacy as a ruse to quietly negotiate with Herman and stay ahead of the University of Texas in the chase for the 41-year-old hotshot, but the potential deal fizzled after reports on Thursday night exposed a plan the Tigers had kept shrouded for days.

Shortly after our profile of Fisher published on Tuesday, a source contacted me to explain that while Florida State’s coach was the chalk pick, Alleva wasn’t overly fond of him, and had “somebody else” in mind, with Orgeron as a fallback candidate. Boosters being particularly fond of Fisher, Alleva felt he had to at least show him some deference.

As Dellenger details, LSU had been in talks with Herman, trying to head off a potential Texas move. The leaks and reports on Thursday during LSU’s win over Texas A&M, not only caught LSU off guard, but, I’m told pissed Alleva off quite a bit. He felt that after bargaining in good faith, Herman and agent Trace Armstrong had leaked the info to suit their ends. And of course, that’s exactly what happened — Charlie Strong’s ouster at Texas and a move from the Longhorns to hire Herman.

On Friday, Orgeron made his pitch for the job:

Orgeron “blew away” decision-makers during an interview Friday, when he arrived equipped with two thick binders detailing his long-term plan for the program. He left that meeting feeling as if he would finish second to Herman.

And indeed, despite some misgivings regarding the leaks, Alleva still fully planned on offering Herman the in a scheduled meeting on Saturday, although he was content in the knowledge that if Herman balked or waited on Texas, Orgeron was an outstanding plan B.

But a call from Herman’s representative to reschedule the Saturday meeting told Alleva everything he needed to know. Texas was first, and would stay that way despite the week of negotiations. And so, Alleva told the Houston coach thanks but no thanks.

Dellenger’s piece is well worth your time and has some additional details — including other names that would have been interviewed this week had Orgeron not been a viable option. But I was told several times over the last few weeks that Alleva has always favored Orgeron — the question was more selling the interim coach to the other decision-makers involved. Those concerns were quieted Thursday and Friday in Orgeron’s presentation.