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Turnover Wednesday : Is LSU Football in the Upside Down?

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Consider, for a moment...

Syracuse v LSU Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Turnover Wednesday is all about turning to the next page and moving past dwelling on the past. In the past, I’ve focused on the minutiae but today, I want to theorize on big picture.

“We should fire Ed Orgeron!”

“It’s clearly not going to work out.”

“He’s in over his head.”

It took only five games for O to convert the bulk of the fanbase into the group of fans that were always waiting for the other shoe to drop with Les Miles. It’s not that the criticisms are without merit. You don’t snap a 49-game non-conference home winning streak against... Troy... and get to skate free into the future. And Orgeron’s disastrous tenure at Ole Miss looms as the key data points from which everyone draws. Fair or not, he has no others. Thus, the fanbase is in a bit of a free fall when it comes to expectations. So let’s take a minute and hit pause on that.

PAUSE

Okay, we’re back. Consider, for a moment, alternative realities which run parallel to our own. Each with a million different tiny variations.

Let’s grant, for a moment, the idea that LSU may not be as talented as we’ve come to believe. Yes, we’ve spent years barking about our talent level. Yes, we have tremendous signing days and top-10 recruiting classes and few other teams are our equal. Yes, 247’s composite talent ranking has LSU 6th nationally. It’s a foolish proposition, right?

Yet, consider that of the 84 players 247 ranks, 11 of the four-star-plus players are currently non-contributors for various reasons:

Dee Anderson

Andre Anthony

Donavaughn Campbell

Austin Deculus

Breiden Fehoko

Kristian Fulton

Lowell Narcisse

Mannie Netherly

Ed Paris

Tyler Shelvin

Ray Thornton

Now imagine a roster minus those contributors and working to fill gaps with either players that aren’t up to the talent level or players that don’t yet have the experience to be FT regulars. It’s pretty easy to conceive that a roster like THAT would experience some ugly growing pains.

It’s not quite a scenario as gloomy as imagining O is actively failing at every turn. We’ve long stumped for talent as the biggest factor on the pathway to success, but altering a single variable in this scenario may lend at least partial explanation to LSU’s early season struggles. Bud Elliot seems to think so.

On top of that, the new coach believes there’s a need for a culture change. Complacency set in under the Miles regime. Sure, the great players still made the NFL, but seniority took precedence and the bulk of the roster became rooted in their ways. O’s new ideas upset that comfort. Jobs are on the line. Things aren’t what they’ve always been and that’s a little bit hard to adjust to. Maybe some of them don’t take to it well. Maybe the new coach thinks some of these guys, even the talented ones, don’t belong in his program. They aren’t fits for the culture. They aren’t fits for the scheme. Maybe some of those guys are starters because you realistically have no other options. Coaching changes are hard, if you haven’t noticed.

Maybe your team lacks leadership because the leading locker room voices just left for the NFL. Maybe most of your best players are sophomores. Maybe, god forbid, you make a mistake or two. Maybe it’s a bad judgment call about offensive adjustments. Maybe it’s letting a player or two walk that could have been useful.

It’s true, there’s no explanation for an embarrassing loss to Troy, but young teams can often crater at unexpected moments.

It’s not that LSU is without talent; it’s just that LSU may not be as talented as we’ve imagined. It’s not that LSU has a culture problem; it’s just that Orgeron is still in the process of orchestrating buy-in. It’s not that everything has suddenly gone to hell and should be thrown out; it’s just that change management is one of the most difficult tasks for any leader.

Or, maybe O just sucks.