As of press time, there has still been no news on LSU’s search for its next offensive coordinator. Sunday, Ed Orgeron left the opening that they may even wait until after the Citrus Bowl to announce the name.
Which, frankly, comes down to waiting for Orgeron’s top choice, who is most obviously, Alabama’s Lane Kiffin.
As was widely reported, Kiffin interviewed on Sunday with the University of Houston for its head coaching job. How well that went seems to depend on whom you ask, with some media speculating that he’s the favorite to get the job, while others have indicated that UH would like a significant buyout clause, something that Kiffin and agent Jimmy Sexton are unlikely to agree to. CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd, for what it’s worth, is reporting that Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley made a huge impression in an interview today.
In my opinion, Kiffin would be a good fit for Houston stylistically, but will be looking for bigger and better things, and within the first two years. It seems to me that Houston would prefer something a bit more long-term. SB Nation’s Steven Godfrey has also reported that Kiffin will be the top choice for South Florida
should Willie Taggart depart, although that hasn’t happened yet change in plans as of this morning — Taggart in fact appears headed to Oregon.
One thing to remember in all of this, is that we are dealing with a Jimmy Sexton client. It’s his MO to make his client appear tied to as many jobs as possible.
Kiffin is very clearly Orgeron’s top choice, and he’s willing to wait to make the move. Beyond that, other names are being kept very close to the vest, although I do feel comfortable reporting that this is NOT a “Kiffin or bust” deal. Orgeron does have other names in mind. If the process does go beyond the Citrus Bowl, I would imagine Steve Ensminger would continue to call that game, although he is not getting the job beyond it.
Baton Rouge radio personality Matt Moscona reported that former Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich has reached out regarding the job, and that would certainly be an interesting choice. Helfrich didn’t work out in succeeding Chip Kelly in Eugene, but he’s a heck of an offensive mind — Kelly certainly thought so — and despite their issues Oregon has still had very productive offenses when they’ve had the quarterbacks to make things work. Although my read for the situation is that it seems a bit far-fetched, as Helfrich is a West Coast lifer that hasn’t worked outside of the Pac-12 in 15 years. A move to the SEC seems unlikely, although it would certainly broaden his horizons.
Major Applewhite is a name that has also come up in a lot of talk, although I think that’s more tied to his being a Baton Rouge native, and particularly a Catholic High grad. Applewhite had a lot of success working under Tom Herman, obviously, and could be a candidate to replace him, in fact. But otherwise, his record as a coordinator and assistant in general is incredibly spotty. That said, he does have a very diverse background: groomed in Greg Davis’ pro-style offense, then working with Bryan Harsin of the Boise State multiple-style, and then under another spread guy like Herman, although Herman’s offense was a little more utilitarian than most. For some, he’d be the kind of “splash” that Orgeron is looking to make, but to me, there’s a lot of questions.
But “splash” is still an operative term here. It’s what Orgeron is looking to make with this hire, and he’s also keenly aware of just how many eyes are on it. We should begin to get a little clarity on the situation in the next few days.